I’m sitting here on my couch rocking out to Steve Earle with my English setter, Dixie, on one side and my sweet lab, Pika, curled up on my other and I have to admit it feels so good to be home. I got off work tonight and mowed my jungle of a yard, then took the dogs swimming and chasing birds at the ditch, followed by a wonderful steak dinner with my wife. With things feeling perfect…I still have a melancholy feeling lingering deep down inside. There is a part of me that is still at Rock Creek with the cottonwood breeze tingling my face and haunting my soul. I guess it’s just the normal decompression from coming off such a magical high in god’s greatest country with some of the world’s most awesome folks! If you haven’t already caught on…I HAD AN ABSOLUTE ROCK CREEK TIME!! And the first thing I want to do is say THANK YOU to every single person that was at the Rock Creek tournament that made my trip so awesome!! I could dedicate this entire blog to listing the names of folks from the trip…in fact, as I sit here writing this blog, I am going through a collection of magical memories and people’s faces that made this trip so special to me. We might not have come home with a trophy, but we came home with memories that will last a lifetime.
Serenity in its truest and purest form
The next thing I need to say is how dedicated my partner Kris is…this guy gives 110% to everything he does, from fishing to family to flinging arrows at giant breaks bulls. He worked twelve hour days all week and managed to sneak out and trap us minnows after work so we would be fully prepared for the derby. I think is it so awesome that people can have such drive and passion for the things they love. Let’s just say we make a pretty darn good team together and most importantly we have a lot of fun. I met up with Kris the first night and we headed down the lost highway to the south fork of Rock Creek. Both starving, we decided we would get to the marina and order one of Wild Bill’s famous Rock Creek pizzas. Showing up a little too late, after taking our time enjoying the sunset over the lake, we were out of luck. Then Kris remembered he had brought a jar of the best pickled fish I have ever tasted (freshly caught a couple weeks prior I must add). Since I brought sandwich rolls, we made epic northern pike pickled sandwiches for a late night dinner. Talk about a great start to the adventure. Following dinner were conversations of fishing and then dreams of pitching jigs the next morning.
We were met the next morning by all the prairie birds singly wildly to wake the sea of sagebrush, and all the fishermen of course! After backing Kris in, I parked the trailer and off we went to one of the most magical places on this earth. Pulling into a place where Kris had caught some awesome fish the weekend before, the rigs went down and the jigs started flying through the air. Not twenty minutes into our first pass Kris’s lindy loaded up and he set the hook. Just our luck, there was a boat right beside us and they yelled, “Dang, that looks like a big one” and Kris said “Yup.” Then Kris yelled “Dang pike” and opened his drag and jerked his rod and said, “Damn, he just bit me off.” Me thinking Kris had actually just been bitten off, I kept whizzing my jig into the willows. After the boat passed I heard, “Hey Trev, look at this stud!” Kris knelt down and lifted a gorgeous 27.5” walleye into the boat for a quick picture. “You Sneaky Bastard” I smirked out at Kris in a whisper. I thought to myself, what a god darn professional I’m dealing with here…he even fooled me and I’m in the boat with him. He just gave a big smile and laughed and tossed the big hen walleye back to her home. Over the next couple days we caught some awesome fish and had a heck of a game plan to put on a jig clinic come game day!
Kris with his sneaky 27.5” eye
Eating our cake before derby day
That afternoon it got super windy so we decided to call it a day and head back to the marina. The first thing I couldn’t help but notice which HUMBLED THE LIFE OUT ME was how much support was there for Kit’s Tackle. There were Kit’s Tackle hats and t-shirts and sweatshirts all over as you looked across the crowd of folks. I guess the thing that is so crazy to me is that someone who doesn’t even know me would wear a hat from our business. Not easy to admit, I actually had to toughen up not to get emotional looking at all the support. Just crazy to think a kid and his dad with a dream of building a dream could get so much support. So if anybody supporting us with that good looking Kit’s Tackle swag is reading this, don’t think I didn’t notice you or how much it means to me. I couldn’t be more grateful that you believe in our dedication of following our dream of “Jiggin’ the Dream” and that you can be a part of our dream.
Every time I would turn around that afternoon I would see another face that I hadn’t seen in some time and would get a big ol’ hug and have some laughs. I just felt like I was in a giant sea of the best friends a guy could have…and then I realized I was. These folks are damn near family to me and I look up to so many of them so much and feel so blessed and proud to call them my dear friends. Overwhelmed with all the excitement I heard “Hey you sexy beast, ready for a Montana boat ride?” There stood my good friend Gary Cayko and his insane Ranger. Grabbing Kris and our great pal Ricci, we jumped in for the magic carpet ride. Let’s just say it was better than six flags…WOWZA!! It was defiantly a boat ride of shenanigans propelled by some mysterious drive!! After things winded down a little, Kris and I fired up the grill for a surf and turf feast! Kris brought choice T-bones and I filleted fresh walleye with the skin on. We grilled the steaks and fish together coupled with a few sips of whisky neat and it hit the spot very nicely.
Here is a link to our Montana Boat ride video!!
As game day neared, Kris and I came up with a solid game plan and we toasted beers over one of wild Bill’s famous pizzas we had been waiting for. Not only are the pizzas good but so is the hospitality of the Rock Creek Marina. I can give you a personal guarantee that Bill and crew will make your stay enjoyable. Bill has cabins for rent and campsites with nice showers and bathrooms on site. And you just have to meet his dog Pistol…he got his name for a reason! It is a truly awesome place that deserves your visit! The heck with a tropical destination…we have Rock Creek Marina on Fort Peck, baby! Here is the website for the marina: www.rockcreekmarina.com
As the birds woke us on tournament morning, I instantly had those pesky butterflies that made my stomach churn from side to side. In fact I was so nervous; I barely got to the bathhouse before having a gaseous explosion in my drawers!!! After taking care of the pre-tournament gas and purchasing five bottles of tums from Bill, I made things even worse by devouring a giant plate of biscuits and gravy for breakfast fuel. Kris and I both knew we wouldn’t eat during the game so we enjoyed the B & G and coffee! After letting our breakfast settle, it was time to dump the boat in. After parking the trailer and heading back down the ramp, I heard Kris yelling “Get the truck dude, the plug isn’t in.” Like a northern pike on a fire tiger Glass Minnow, I ran back up and got the truck. After ramping in again we were finally set and ready to roll. Being the fifth boat out, we had a smooth ride to our spot. Feeling confident and ready to kick some butt…we did what we do best.
Speaking of pike on a fire tiger Glass Minnow
To make a long and not so exciting story short…our fish had packed their suitcases and got the flock out of dodge. Kris and I fished our hearts out and the big fish we had pinned in the pre-fish just wouldn’t show up. We did have a huge cold front come through on Friday night and we figured this was the cause of the interruption. We believe the fish were still in the area but had moved deep and caught the lock jaw bug. We gave it everything we had in our bag of tricks but we couldn’t get big fish in the boat. Continuing on the confidence train, we knew the next day we could pull a huge weight and make up for the day one stumble. Exhausted from the first day and all the excitement, Kris and I were out like little kids by 7:30 that night and I didn’t wake once until the next morning…not even to pee!
As we enjoyed our biscuits and gravy again at the marina Bill had Willies Roadhouse playing on XM Radio. Normally content with old country, Kris and I changed it to Octane and had a little Rob Zombie blasting through the marina. Getting a lot of strange looks, it was just what we needed to get out there and kick some butt! Taking a while to get ramped in, I couldn’t help but smile that Montana’s oldest standing tournament had grown to seventy one teams this year. I would love to see this tournament continue to grow with how much fun it is. Being almost the last boat out on the second day, we gave each other the nod and let er’ rip. And then a wave hoppin’ we went in Kris’s trusty Triton.
Kris and I headed out on day two
With high hopes of the big fish showing up, it wasn’t long into day two and we realized our fish were gone. Keeping our chins up, we fished some other spots and hunted the big fish. As the day came to the final bell we were not able to get the fish we needed to place in the top of the tournament. If you ever plan on fishing a tournament, TAKE THIS ADVICE FROM ME! If you can’t handle getting your butt whipped, the tournament game isn’t for you. No matter how good of a fisherman you are or how many tournaments you win, I PROMISE…YOU WILL GET SERVED A GIANT UNDELICIOUS PIECE OF HUMBLE PIE!! Here is the kicker; if you can take the skunk and still have fun…you’re SOLID!! This was the first tournament Kris and I stumbled in together and I have to admit I am disappointed about the loss, but totally jacked about the way we handled the situation. We did a good job pumping each other up and giving it our best effort until the end. All a couple of guys can do is go out and give it their best…Kris even looked over at me and joked, “We got Fort Pecked bro, here one day…gone the next.”
Making it back to the weigh in, it was the highlight of my trip to hear that the tournament was won on the Glass Minnows!! Can I get a hell ya?!?! Cody Martinez and his partner actually came up to me and thanked me for the awesome product that gave them the first place honors at the 2014 Rock Creek Walleye Tournament. In a sick and twisted kind of way, it almost brings me as much joy to see their happiness as it would for me to win the derby. I have been in those shoes before and ooooohhhhh baby, it feels good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And to know that our very fingertips in our basement shop made the jigs that won them their first tournament is an indescribable feeling. To reiterate, we did not take away a tournament win, but all in all I had the most fun I have had in as long as I can remember. And that is the most important thing. So cheers to Rock Creek Tournament 2014 and all the wonderful folks that attended and helped out!
Here is Cody’s testimonial from there Rock Creek Win:
Hi Trevor, my name is Cody Martinez. I just wanted to tell you, that your jigs are one of the best jigs i have ever used. The motion of them in the water and life like appearance they have is truly incredible. Thanks to your jigs, my partner Doug Quast and I were able to put together a solid 2 day run and win the 2014 Rock Creek Walleye Tournament. It was just incredible how it all happened. We went in to day 2 in second place by 6 ounces. Come day 2 it was a rough start. After losing a 30 inch plus walleye at the boat right off the bat, we had a tough time putting together any size. We managed to weigh in a little over 8lbs by 2 o’clock. With only a hour or so remaining we made the call to jig in the sunken trees and boy did it pay off. With one drop of the pink and purple glass minnow jig we nailed a 10lb walleye to put us at 17.02lbs for the day and 41.52lbs for the tourney. Thank you so much and keep up the great work.
(Written by Trevor Johnson of Kit’s Tackle – www.kitstackle.com)