When you travel with a fraternity of guys who fish for a living, you become like a family. There are highs and lows, celebrations and sadness. Just like any family (especially one traveling and working together), there are arguments. But as with family, we always have each others’ backs.
I remember the first year on tour, I was fishing in an area and Kevin VanDam and Denny Brauer started arguing over a spot. It got rather heated. Here I was, young, excited, and thrilled to be fishing, and watching two of my heroes I had looked up to, going at it.
You have to remember, at this time, cameras weren’t always on and there was no social media; so no one saw the “professional disagreements” between anglers the way we do now. I felt like my heart was broken because these two guys didn’t like each other. Later that evening, I walked into a restaurant and see KVD and Denny Brauer eating dinner and laughing together. Like family.
One year, we left Santee Cooper – and this was some crazy scheduling (although I guess I can’t blame Michael Mulone for this one, ha!) – and had back-to-back events from Santee Cooper to the California Delta, with one week to get nearly 3,000 miles from one side of the country to the other. At that time, we used to carry CBs in our trucks to talk to each other, so Marty Stone, Stephen Browning, Kelly Jordon, Kevin Wirth, Gerald Swindle, Terry Scroggins and the late Roger Schofield and I were on the CB to each other the whole way.
When you travel that far, you sometimes get to know people you may not have known well. I was just getting to know my now good friend, Terry Scroggins. On that trip, we dodged tornadoes in Texas, a windstorm in the desert, and got to know each other a whole lot better.
If you know Terry Scroggins, you know he’s big on cooking … and eating. We had stopped at a restaurant and Terry told the waiter he wanted the steak and chicken. The waiter asked, “So you want the steak dinner and add a side of chicken?” Terry replied, “No. I want both entrees. Sides, potatoes and all.”
The best story of Terry’s appetite was on the way home from that trip. We were just about to cross the desert, and we stopped at a truck stop that had an Arby’s in it. Terry and I went in to order, and Terry walks up to the lady and says he wants five roast beef and cheddar combos. I thought, well Terry must be ordering for all of us. Then Terry turns to me and says, “Whatchu want, Hammer?”
He loaded up all five sandwiches, all five curly fries, and all five drinks and said, “It’s a long way across that desert.”
On another trip, we had fished Lake Amistad in Texas and had about a week before we had to be in California; so some of us decided to stay in Texas and do some fun fishing before we headed out. Jimmy Mason and I fished against Russ Lane and Scroggins. We had a little fun tournament, with the losers buying dinner. Well, Russ and Terry won, so we went to dinner that night. Of course, they ordered filets and a good dinner but didn’t take advantage of us too much.
I put the bill on my card, and Jimmy gave me $50 for his share. Well, the actual bill with tip and everything was around $175.
We fished again the next day, with Russ and Terry winning again. When we got to the restaurant that night, Jimmy went to the restroom. I told Russ and Terry to order EVERYTHING: Shrimp cocktail, quail, appetizers, two entrees, whatever. They looked at me like I was crazy. The bill came after dinner, and I’m sure it was pretty salty.
I handed Jimmy his $50 back and told him he could put that one on his card.
If you guys enjoy my blog and stories from the road, I hope you’ll follow along this year here at MajorLeagueFishing.com. Maybe I’ll talk about Edwin Evers and me water skiing on Table Rock, weekly entertainment by Marty Robinson and Casey Ashley, and Kelly Jordon shooting turkeys from the hip.