Jason Cordiale, On His Way to the Top: The FLW Tour at Lake Mead, Las Vegas
May 6, 2010
A fishing boat operated by Greg Gutierrez had its motor dismount at high speed on Lake Mead, today, causing it to spin like a bottle on the water. Matt Newman, who witnessed the event, stated he saw a wall of white spray, followed by a wave as the boat spun end-around-end, at one point appearing to stop spinning in mid-air, facing Newman's boat as he witnessed the faces of the two men aboard. He doubled back around to check on the fellow anglers and was relieved to see the men safe.
The night before the Tournament, after three days of practice on Lake Mead, there was seismic charge in the air back at the hotel, following the FLW orientation briefing to all Anglers on Tuesday night. Cordiale was not happy with the lottery results that placed him far from among the first group to motor out and claim their ideal banks of this windy lake. I attempted to reassure him with his own words that it just meant a better placement the next day, but "The fish will already be caught!" was his less than jovial reply. Ouch. No advantage. Champions are champions not only when they've earned a coveted trophy or title, but in each victory along the way. Perhaps not as the recognized winner of the event, but as the individual who will take from every experience what needs to be extracted from it to make the competitor wealthier in knowledge, more seasoned in skill, and more mature in the face of adversity. Every one in this Tournament has proven themselves to be a champion in order to qualify, and it is here where the Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer's of the Fish Lover's World attempt to reel in their destiny as legends in the sport, feeders of their families, or reason to celebrate in their sponsors. Each of the six Anglers in our group, along with other anglers adjacant to us at the Sienna Suites Hotel, such as Justin Lucas, whose National Guard wrapped boat and SUV won my silent vote for victory. After all, the National Guard sponsored this Series, they protect our Country, and the Red White and Blue colors really look cool! Without question, however, the best looking boat wrap by a sponsor was Manolin Coffee, for Cordiale. Not that looks will catch fish, but who doesn't enjoy what pleases the eye? Each Angler was laboring with vigorous and meticulous concentration that night . . . changing the lines on their reels . . . luring what appeared to be near a dozen rods apiece, each set to be the one that catches what could be worth thousands of dollars swimming below the surface of the lake, at an instant's notice. Victory is often determined by milliseconds in many high-energy sports. Hideki Maeda, of Japan, told me what fascinates him about the sport. "More complex than a game of chess, it requires mental strategy that has such a spectrum of choices behind each decision, it makes it exciting to select each possibility. One variation in detail might determine if a fish is caught, or precious time is wasted. Which lure will work the best? There are so many to choose from, yet there is never enough time to try each one! Wonderful sport!" he concluded, with a gleam in his eye, and expression of apparant deep satisfaction with being immersed in the waters of challange. It is very important, for accuracy's sake, that I don't write Fisherman any where in the context of this report. After all, within our group, is Cassandra Caron-Thompson. I must say, with journalistic observation, that she put all of us to shame by not only being a Co-Angler in the Tournament, she cooked a fantastic meal for all of us each night, and breakfast every morning! Not to mention cupcakes and cookies for over 200 people!
One Week Earlier
Jason Cordiale, of Orinda, California, flew me in to Nashville, Tennessee, on his way to Lake Ouachita, Arkansas. He picked me up at the airport before making that long drive outside of Little Rock between events for the National Guard sponsored FLW Pro-Bass Fishing Tour. The FLW is, to fans of the lure and all the skill behind it, the NBA or NFL of fishing. I was to help tow the Manolin Coffee wrapped boat across the long expanse of this glorious Country. Our first stop, Hot Springs, Arkansas, proved a delightful taste of the heart of this nation.
We spent two days on the water of Lake Ouachita, which, if "A piece of Heaven, all around" were the proper translation, is a perfectly named destination to find one's self able to relax from any worries, sort them out, or find resolutions. To watch the wind as it approaches on the surface of the lake, then to feel its push against the skin . . . As I enjoyed the scenic panorama, Jason remained hard at work. As if examining the depths of water with x-ray vision, his concentration was relentless, and the mastery of his casts was impressive. His accuracy reminded me of William Tell, and his ability to shoot an apple off the head. I must admit, however, I'm not quite ready to stand somewhere and have a fish snatched off my head with a hook from great distance. I was so quieted by the whole experience of observation that I found it necessary to ask "You won't forget I'm here and accidentally hook my lip, now, will you?" laughing, but seriously concerned. The glare from my receding hairline could have easily contributed to such misfortune, if he weren't wearing his Coccoons polarized sunglasses. We rocketed across the water where nothing but rolling hills of forest surrounded us, propelled by a 250 Horse Power engine, I imagined being pulled by 250 horses in the water. I don't think they'd be as fast, or last as long, unless they just drank some Manolin Coffee, and I'm quite sure that at least a few of the horses would eventually turn around and let their hooves tell us what they felt about pulling us in deep water to go fishing. Hooray for technology! I was enjoying the ride. Victory in many sports is decided by no more than milliseconds. In Pro Fishing, the same may also be true. The first to reach the right location where the biggest fish are bedding, is more likely to catch the poundage needed to be the winner. The lure that lands first when the Bass is ready to bite, is more likely to feel the tug of delight. Professional Fishing is as much a race, as a discipline in patience. The enormous lake had occasional marinas where floating fantasy apartments docked between uses by owners/renters who could take them out for a drift into heaven while entertaining friends & clients, or strengthening families with a trip to paradise on multiple levels of human ingenuity in boat craft, including a water slide off the back! I certainly felt blessed to be there. BUT BACK TO BUSINESS!! Jason was not there for fun, except to strive for the thrill of being the best.
Hard Work, Determination, and a relentless pursuit to constantly become better, is how Champions earn their rank. What separates greatness from the ordinary is the product of time put in. Jason is truly an avid Bass Angler on his way to that distinction. Angler is an appropriate description, perhaps in more ways than one, because there is a definite mathematical science to the art of every cast. Not only must the Angler understand wind velocity, lure placement, sinking geometry, reel and rod technique, line resistance and floatability, not to mention the personalities of the fish, they must bring it all together, and hook that needle in a haystack . . . Without focus, visions cannot be achieved, and dreams remain only that. Those who immerse themselves in what they are attempting to attain, sometimes develop a certain type of tunnel vision, also known as a one-track mind. Great thinkers and inventors can be lost for hours in pursuit of their visions. To demonstrate Cordiale's mindset before a tournament, I need only tell of our drive into Las Vegas, from across the Arizona border.
The drive North, on Hwy 93, is nothing less than stunning. One is made to feel like a dinosaur traversing ancient lands, as well a form of life so fragile in nature, yet able to harness ingenuity for surviving journeys that sanity could easily deem impossible, as a testament to brilliance of our human potential, and ability to endure the challenges that await humanity. As we approached Hoover Dam, I became increasingly excited that we were about to drive over one of the wonders of the world. I wanted to gawk and inhale every detail . . . the cliffs . . . the architecture . . . the magnitude of space . . . I asked Jason if he wanted me to pull over to take a look. I burst out laughing for miles at his response; "You can't see any fish from here!" as if there would be no other reason to stop, and I were silly for even suggesting it. That is focus!
Return later today to read about Jason's practice and preparation for the FLW Tournament at Lake Mead, Las Vegas, which commenced at 7am Pacific time, today