Challenge Cup Battle Wounds
Photo by Todd Walker
Story by Greg Underdahl, Major League Fishing Videographer
It was the final hour of the final day of the Challenge Cup, and Kevin VanDam had been struggling all day to make a dent in Brent Ehrler's lead. VanDam was running and gunning to different spots trying to put a pattern together and find enough fish to make up some ground.
With less than 45 minutes remaining in the event, Kevin found an area loaded with enough bass to win. He repeatedly ripped out casts like only he can do and was catching quality bass on nearly every pass with his jerkbait. As a fan on fishing, and of Kevin, I was amazed at what I was witnessing.
The seemly anvil-like camera planted on my tortured shoulder disappeared and all I cared about was whether VanDam was going to make a last minute, come-from-behind surge to win the Cup.
It was about at this time when Kevin reared back, loaded his rod up behind him and launched a jerkbait cruise missile into my forearm. Upon impact, the line snapped and the lure exploded into tiny pieces.
The only visible trace that a jerkbait had hit my arm was two treble hooks, firmly implanted in my forearm. Being the guy Kevin is, he immediately apologized for the accident. I told him to keep fishing and that we'd worry about my arm after the day was over.
Looking at how deep four of the six hooks from the pair of trebles were buried, I thought that only an ER doctor would be able to remove them. Kevin insisted that I should seek a true professional, like Gary Klein.
Once back on shore, Kevin found Gary and they quickly wrangled up some braided line to perform the delicate operation.
Gary and Kevin doubled up the line around the two hooks of the first treble and told me to relax.
Easier said than done.
Gary positioned my arm behind me and gave a quick jerk of the braid and the first treble hook popped out without incident. I immediately felt blood beginning to run down the length of my arm.
The fishermen doctors then began working on the second treble. When Gary jerked on the braid this time, it rolled the treble and the line slipped off. The crowd that had gathered collectively gasped.
I didn't know what had happened, but Kevin and Gary thought it was best to keep me in the dark ... I was fine with that.
On the second attempt, this time with the line tied several times, the treble hook popped out without any issues.
I now bare a scar given to me by the guy considered to be greatest bass tournament angler. As a fan of fishing and KVD, that's pretty cool.