Saving the best for last:
Haire wins Bassmaster Series event at High Rock Lake
At Sunday's ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series tournament at High Rock Lake, Yadkinville's Danny Haire illustrated why the "last shall be first."
In a field of 88 anglers, Haire drew number 88 for the morning take-off from the Southmont Landing at Abbotts Creek.
"Taking off last at High Rock is not a desirable thing if you want to be the first one to your fishing spot," Haire said.
Surprisingly, Haire had his deep-water fishing spots to himself as most of the other anglers fished piers and bushes after heavy rains had brought the lake level to nearly full pool and caused muddy water conditions that hampered the deep bite.
Haire, a Carolina-rig specialist, dragged 8- to 10-inch dark-hued plastic worms across the lake bottom in 12 feet of water to catch his fish.
He made a critical adjustment to offset an unusual bite.
"If you felt the fish hit the worm and set the hook, you'd miss the fish," said Haire, who missed three strikes before he altered his hook set. "I let the fish pull tight and swim off before I set the hook to catch them. It was a funny bite.
"I had to get over the fish to make them strike; I was practically vertical fishing with the Carolina rig. The water at High Rock looks clearer than it is; it's very muddy beneath the surface."
Haire's non-boater partner, Joel Garvin of Shallotte, caught a 3-pound, 3-ounce bass during the morning; then the two anglers went several hours without a strike.
"I caught most of my fish around 1 p.m. in the heat of the day," Haire said.
At the day's end, the angler who had taken off last came in first as Haire caught a five-fish limit totaling 14 pounds, 1 ounce to win $4,516.
Haire attributed his training as a clinical psychologist with helping him stay focused under difficult fishing conditions.
High Rock yielded only eight five-fish limits to anglers in the Boater Division.
Boater Steve Sink of Winston-Salem scratched out one of those five-fish limits. He weighed in 13-07 to take the second-place prize of $1,385 plus $700 in bonus money.
Other Boater Division scores were Doug Young of Salisbury, fourth, with 11-10 for $723 plus $180 in bonus money; Jeff Coble of Manson, sixth, with 11-06 for $602; David Wright of Lexington, seventh, with 11-06 for $602; Jason Thomas of Southmont, eighth, with 10-09 for $542 ; Jerry Bono of Advance, ninth, with 10-00 for $482; and Darrell Parks of Asheboro, 10th, with 9-14 for $422.
Larry Inman of Greensboro took the big-fish award of $627 in cash and bonus money with a 5-pound, 15-ounce bass, his only keeper for the tournament.
Gavin won the Non-boater division where his catch was combined with Haire's for a winning weight of 17-04 worth $2,203.
Among the non-boaters, Brandon Gardner of Salisbury placed third with 16-01 for $411 plus $180 in bonus money; James Patton of High Point finished fourth with 15-07 for $294 plus $180 in bonus money; and Rick McCrary of Lexington ranked 10th with 12-13 for $206.
The father-and-son team of Bob and Bobby Jennett of Kernersville topped the field Sunday at the New Piedmont Team Tournament event at Tuckertown Lake with 16.06 pounds and shared $500.
Ray Hinkle of Welcome and David Berrier of Lexington placed second with 11.09 pounds and received $275 plus $110.50 for the big fish of the day, a 4.96-pound bass.
Tripp Torrence and Jack Vanderford of Salisbury ranked third with 10.51 pounds and collected $160. Shane Floyd and Tony Garitta of Lexington finished fourth with 10.46 pounds and won $102.
Todd Shoaf of Linwood and Gary Cline of Lexington won Saturday's Summer Blast at the Rock. Their catch of 13.09 pounds paid $700.
Orlando Giles and Rick Jarrell of Lexington had 13.03 pounds to claim the second-place award of $500. Their catch included the big fish of the day, a 5.59-pound bass that paid $150. Darien Crumbley and Jeff Proctor of High Point ranked third with 11.88 pounds and banked $200.
The river turns pretty: Several months ago, Robert Walser told me he had qualified for the July 6-8 All-American at the Connecticut River by ranking third in the N.C. Division and finishing fifth at the Clarks Hill Regional, Ga. He said he dreaded the thought of fishing a river system in the summer heat following the busy Fourth of July weekend.
But the Connecticut River became an attractive river to Walser when its rain-swollen waters played into his shallow-water jig pattern that resulted in a $140,000 payday and a Ranger boat. Walser's "overnight success" took 23 years. He began fishing professionally in 1983.
Tony Garitta is the fishing columnist for The Dispatch.