Camaraderie runs deep in tournament bass fishing and much of that endearing sentiment is rooted in sportsmanship, grace and a willingness to help fellow competitors. In an odd juxtaposition, fate offered a shining example Sunday night, as anglers were preparing to begin practice Monday morning.
It all started when K.J. Queen found his truck stuck in the mud near the trailer he was renting with former Bethel University teammate John Garrett. Strapping his truck to his buddy’s vehicle, Garrett did his best, but also fell victim to the muddy ground.
Now they had two stuck trucks and no immediate options.
No snickering — recent rains had saturated the ground and left treacherously captive conditions. This stuff happens, and it’s no fun.
So Garrett calls his fellow Bethel alum Cody Huff who’s rooming with Chris Jones about an hour away. Long story short, Jones and Huff drop what they’re doing and come to their fellow competitors’ aid.
“We’re all fellow fishermen; if they were stuck, they weren’t going to get to go practice the next day if they didn’t get help,” Jones said. “It didn’t matter who it was.
“When John called Cody, he said ‘Dude, we’re stuck,’ and his phone cut off. We thought they were stuck out in the lake; we got scared that they were broke down on the water. When he called back, we found out they were stuck at the house.”
Thanks to his Westin Winch, Jones had the trucks on stable ground in about 30 minutes.
“If I hadn’t had a winch, I wouldn’t have been able to get them out,” Jones said. “I would have spun out; it was just black gumbo mud.”
Instances of anglers helping anglers happen often, and while each deserves respect, the Jones-Garrett relationship merits particular note.
These anglers finished first and second, respectively in the Basspro.com Bassmaster Central Open on the Arkansas River, June 20. A margin of only 6 ounces separated their finishes, but Garrett’s final-round catch would’ve given him the win, except for a self-reported rules infraction.
After catching his sixth fish, Garrett continued fishing without culling. Tournament rules stipulate that an angler cannot continue fishing with more than five fish in the livewell.
“There is definitely zero hard or bad feelings between me and Chris,” Garrett said of the Arkansas River event. “If anything, it was the start of a friendship for me and him.
“When I was on the phone with Cody, Chris said ‘That’s the least I can do for John. I think I owe him one.’”
Jones agrees: “John’s a super-nice guy. We’re all competitors, and we all want to win. I felt sorry for him when I won. I wanted to win, but it wasn’t the way you want to win. It was just a bad break.
“They tried to pay me for pulling them out, but I said ‘You’re not paying me nothing. We did it because we’re friends.’ Maybe I’ll catch a 10-pounder this week for being a good guy.”