For a top pro angler like Team Toyota’s Matt Arey, showing up to a Bassmaster Elite Series event with no sonar units is like NASCAR great Martin Truex Jr. showing up to Talladega without a steering wheel.
That’s exactly what happened to begin Arey’s week in preparation for a slugfest on Lake Champlain when he got 10 hours into a 14-hour drive and realized his Lowrance units were back home in Shelby, NC.
“You’d think after 15 years as a pro, that would never happen, and I’m typically super thorough about packing and preparing, but I truly just overlooked them,” confesses Arey, who always takes his graphs off his boat to prevent damage or theft.
Of course, he phoned his number one fan and teammate, wife Emily, and asked her to express ship them to Plattsburgh. She did. However, a certain freight company failed to get them to Arey overnight, so he began phoning fellow pros for help, and several jumped to his aid.
“That’s the amazing thing about these guys. They’re blood thirsty competitors, but when a guy needs help, they’re right there to take care of you. Brandon Lester, Scott Canterbury and John Cox networked to round-up three Lowrance graphs for me to practice with,” says the grateful North Carolina State alum.
Finally, at five o’clock Wednesday, as practice concluded, his Lowrance units finally arrived from home at Lake Champlain, just in time to begin competition.
He actually had the SD card with a collection of Champlain waypoints in the boat, but he swears those honey holes proved totally worthless in practice, making the fact he dropped 19-pounds on the scales on Day 1 even more impressive.
“I found one good area in practice and leveraged it for all it was worth,” smiles Arey, who amid a crisis, found out the true soulful goodness of his fellow competitors, and subsequently turned a pretty impressive hot lap on the massive bass factory straddling the New York-Vermont border.