Darren, Mark & Dave joined me today for their annual fall smallie fishing trip. This would be their third or fourth year in a row and the competition was on. After several detours for various reasons, we finally hit the water somewhere around 10:00 A.M. The weather would be the biggest problem on this day as high winds and rain would plague us throughout. Boat control would be difficult at best and I was prepared. With an on & off rain and ominous storm clouds all around, a 25 to 40 knot wind would just be perfect! Despite the rock & roll run to our starting location, we arrived virtually dry. Dave wasted no time connecting with the first three fish before either of the others even had a bite. By covering a rock & weed flat with search baits, I was able to determine what the fish were doing. I soon switched everyone to the same bait and the game was on! Now the competition was in full as both Darren & his brother Mark joined in. Although we were in pretty good waves, they still managed to hook up on a regular basis and the numbers were climbing. Ironically, most of these smallies were in the 2 to 3 pound range and I just kept covering water looking for the giants. The weather was a roller coaster as it was jumping back & forth from intermittent rainfalls. Every time Darren would take his jacket off, it would soon start again! There was even talk of breaking the zipper so that he would have to leave it on! At one point in the day it even seemed like the wind died completely, but that was really short lived. I think it was just a pause before the really heavy stuff began! I could see the rain and waves in the distance generating and I knew we were going to get crushed. When it finally arrived, it did with a vengeance and the fishing just died. We went from one foot waves to almost three foot seas and the rain seemed like it was coming at us, sideways. This lasted for almost an hour and the air temps dropped too, adding a little more hate to this day. When the rain finally stopped, the sun came out and it felt like Florida. Too bad the winds didn’t disappear, but at least the fish were feeding once again. Throughout all this hell, Mark never skipped a beat as he just kept casting in all directions. He was rewarded several times as he managed to land a few more decent sized smallies. Eventually, Darren & Dave thawed out and also started catching a few more of their own. The bet today was for the biggest and the most and by days end, nobody could figure it out. I think it was the brothers that came out on top with Mark landing the largest and Darren the numbers. All I know is that the last hour of the day was the most pleasant. The arrival of the sun definitely was a welcomed blessing after all the pain & suffering we had endured throughout this day. I hope tomorrow brings less misery as it’s round two of the competition once again. With a little help from “Mother Nature”, we might just have a more enjoyable day on the water!!