KEVIN TATE: You never know when life’s opportunities will strike

By Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer

Jeff Foster and Errol Tootle are the kind of guys you like to see in position to break records, because they’re guys you’d hope to be like yourself.
The massive largemouth Foster caught and Tootle netted at Davis Lake last week was just another piece in the puzzle for guys who love the outdoors and the water, who enjoy the challenge of being afloat when the weather’s nasty, and who revel in the solitude that bad weather provides.
Once regulars on the tournament circuits, Foster and Tootle gave up the chase some time ago and have focused their efforts on enjoying the challenge in its own right, a challenge they enjoy best on their home waters 17 miles south of Tupelo.
“We got tired of tournament fishing, so we fish down there year round,” he said.
Last Friday’s big fish, which delivered Foster’s only strike of the day, came on 8-pound test line and a Zoom trick worm worked slowly, patiently on a shaky head rig.
“Right now it’s just slow,” Foster said. “It takes small line and patience. Sometimes we go and come home without a single bite, but it’s something to do to get out of the house.”
He cast from 9 a.m. until 2:14 p.m. without making physical contact with a fish, but it would be inaccurate to say that, in that time, nothing happened.
Time outdoors offers us so much beyond the harvest, it’s important to be able to enjoy a day of nothing but casting and retrieving. On blue bird days like last Friday or the more typical overcast grayouts of winter, the wind and the water make their own brand of silence.
Of course, the chance to hang the fish of a lifetime like Foster did at a quarter past two, the opportunity to summon all of your skill and every ounce of luck and bring topside a bass that, moments before, belonged to one of the secrets places of nature, to slide it into the net and lift it in awe, that potential is what dreams are made of.
Those dreams occupy some of the slow times. It’s nice to see them sometimes come true.
Kevin Tate is V.P. of Media Productions for Mossy Oak in West Point.