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The Gift of the Draw

By Leslie Anderson pictured above November 2019

The Gift of the Draw

Let me start by apologizing to all about the degree of "sappiness" in this blog. It's just that so many positives have come out of my experiences fishing the LBAA. For me, this topic is definitely number one on the list! While talking about the LBAA tour, I am often asked how an angler gets paired with a partner. Among all the other anxieties a new participant must deal with, the concept of climbing into a boat, with a complete stranger, for 10 hours, can be a little unnerving. I can sense the nerves and trepidation as I look around the room at the registration/drawing meetings, and trust me, I can empathize. However, as I finish up my 5th year as a boater on this tour, I can say unequivocally that the draw for a fishing partner is a true and special opportunity that will enrich your life. It's an opportunity to learn, ALWAYS; an opportunity to open your heart and your eyes; and an opportunity to make a friend for life! I can share many, many anecdotes about all the wonderful anglers I have spent time with, but that would be a book instead of a blog. I will recount only a few here, but let me say to ALL the ladies I have fished with that I view my time spent with each of you as a gift. I will start with how much I learned from the legendary Doris Parsons. Of course, I didn't know at the time about the influence and creativity she contributed to the bass fishing community. I had never met her before! We spoke on the day of the draw, but not at great length. At the time, I had no idea she was battling cancer. On tournament day, she got into my boat with TWO rods and one small tackle bag. This surprised me, but after talking that morning, she and I agreed that often anglers overcomplicate bass fishing. I told her I had one good spot; we went there and after observing her for a bit, I could tell she was a very, very experienced angler. And she was SMOKING me!!! I was Carolina-Rigging and she was doing something different. Well, after watching this for an hour or so, I finally gave in, and with her tutorial, started using her technique. It WORKED! And it worked for my next two tournaments in Missouri. She was wise and patient and generous......never once did she complain of fatigue or pain. We had a great day, and I cannot put into words how thrilled I was that I got to share in Doris's victory. What a gift!! I will think of her always. I have learned so many fascinating things from all of my co-anglers. Did you know that Deanna Lovvorn's mom and dad make and sell marionettes in the little town of Bell Buckle, Tennessee? How cute is that? I have heard stories of immense pain and adversity that have left me in awe of the human spirit. So many of the pairings seem predestined! Like this: after spraining my ankle pretty badly, while pre-fishing on Caddo Lake with my dear friend Cassie Hall, I was sitting at registration with Glyn Ellen Valentine. I looked around the room, and saw a new angler walk in, limping, with a boot on her foot. I said to Glyn Ellen, "I'm gonna draw her.” And I DID! Well, Deb Oswalt and I had quite the day as I had to fish her out of the lake, but I sure made a great friend! All of us have stories of laughter and challenges with a person we had often never met before. This year I got to fish with several new co-anglers and truthfully, nothing makes me happier than seeing my co's weigh in their first limit! Now, I'm not saying that we all don't have a few idiosyncrasies. No one, and I mean no one, is perfect. But we are all so much alike than we are different. At my first ever tournament as a coangler in Missouri, I fished with the one and only Lynda Gessner. I didn't know her at all and we were freezing in March and throwing Wiggle Warts. I probably nervously babbled all day, but Lynda kindly tolerated me. And that ONE day opened so many doors for me that I could never have foreseen, including introducing me to a lifelong friend. Every single one of us has a story of making a lifelong friend or friends because of the random pairings. I use to be so much more nervous at the draw, but now I have learned the truth: the draw is an opportunity, a gift, and a chance to grow!!! I send a big thank you to all the women I have fished with.....I can only imagine how much I would learn if I got to spend a day in my fellow boaters' boats!

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