It’s time for the second annual Les Miles vs. Nick Saban fishing derby, sponsored by lakedarbonnelife.com
Everything SEC is competitive, so it’s no surprise that before the LSU-Alabama football game, even the“Fish For Victory“ event is intense. As defending champion, Alabama’s Nick Saban chose the 2013 fishing waters, Lake Burton in Georgia, probably because his little $10.95 million summer home there was up for sale. The jokes on Nick now – it already sold. He should be grateful because it is a long drive to Lake Burton from Texas – but that’s another story for another day. Note to Herbstreit: Miles did not want to fish Lake Michigan.
Saban and A.J. McCarron won last year, but McCarron didn’t have room for a fish tatoo. Saban picked Ha Ha Dix, but he was ruled ineligible for illegally borrowing fishing lures from a coach. So Saban picked senior receiver Tyler Bass, what a natural sounding part of the “process”.
Miles said from the start that Mettenberger was “his guy”. This year he is casting right on target, hitting piers and grass beds with amazing accuracy and not afraid to make the long cast, thanks to his new casting Cam. “You choose to come to LSU to look forward to days like this,” Miles said. “Ideally, you’d like to have that partner that gives a great advantage with the rod in his hand.” He looks as though he is about to give one of his patented claps, when he says, “We need to catch some about this big.”
The tournament begins! Les stopped his purple & gold bass boat, reached over and snagged a piece of aquatic vegetation, chewing it slowly before tucking it under his lower lip. “We’ll just mull around here a bit, when we catch the first fish, it will be like getting the monkey off our back.”
Mettenberger cast his way down the grass bed and led LSU to a three. “I look forward to the opportunity today at very positive consequences”, Miles confidently said.
Miles rode further down the lake and trolled right up to Saban’s boat, where Mettenberger lofted a TigerBait right over Saban’s line and snagged a quick six. “After we let a big one get away at Lake RebelBear, I am determined to do better this time,” Mett told Miles. LSU 9, Bama 0.
Saban screamed and threw his rod down and kicked his depth finder into the lake. Then Mettenberger egged him own, pulling a corn dog out of his tackle box and asking Saban, “Want one, coach? I hear for a time, you really loved these”.
The Bama coach was livid. His frustration at losing on his “home” lake was getting to him and it took an Illegal commotion call from the fish ref to calm him, the first flag thrown on Saban his entire career. He appeared stunned. While Saban carped about the call, Bass did hook a bream, but it was ruled an illegal catch. Saban felt more crappie than before. At least the 60 Minutes cameras were gone.
Miles idled out from the shore, carefully watching his depth finder. It went from 20 feet deep to 15, then 10, then 5. It was obviously the top of a submerged hill and showed good fish on the fish finder screen. “I think we will trust in this hill to carry us to victory,” Miles said. “A lot of people didn’t want us here with this hill, but they are just scared of how much it can produce.”
Saban was in Bass’s face, “You are a senior and I know you don’t want to go out without a catch. Catch something!” Bass went to his tackle box for a peach-colored crank bait. Georgia bass like those. Bass threw the bait by an old leaning log and hooked a chunky six. Saban almost smiled. LSU 9, Bama 6 as the half ended.
A cold north wind blew across the lake. Neither team did much good at first, then Miles said, “It’s time to go to the Hill.” On his first cast, a big bass nailed it and it was suddenly LSU 15, Bama 6. “We are going to hammer them on the Hill”, Miles said. Mettenberger flipped his purple worm over the dropoff and nailed another six. LSU 21, Alabama 6.
Panic set in on the Red Team. Saban started the final period with a trick worm. It didn’t work. His team had a chance to land another three, but the bait sailed wide right. He was livid again. Bass was scared (Not the fish, Saban’s partner….).
The wind picked up and turned really cold. Saban fumbled around looking for another lure when he discovered a lone Alabama Rig. These things are outlawed in many tournaments, but winning is everything. There it was, eight baits in one and more massive than the Kouandjio brothers. It had to work. He chunked it out and Bam! A six and a quick three were soon in the Bama livewell. LSU 21, Bama 15. Bama was on a roll.
The very next cast the bait stopped dead on the retrieve. Saban set the hook and nothing happened for a second, then line stripped from his reel. The title was in sight. The process was working. Then the line went slack, big fish and bait…and the title hopes. . . all gone. This was not Ole Miss. He was not happy, happy, happy.
Miles and Mettenberger went into bait control mode, guarding the LSU livewell in Victory formation. Bama was helpless. No miracles this time. No lucky last minute six. The whistle blew. The run was over. Nick had flashbacks to the day when he fell out of his boat and hit his head on the dock on this very lake the year before he left LSU to go chase some big-flippered fish in Florida. He was only in five feet of water, but remember, that is still over his head. He looked for someone to blame and pointed at the empty Bama Student Boat Dock stands: “Where are our fans? I see empty seats. These people pay me a lot of money. They should come watch. I think that some kind of way, everybody that chooses to go to the lake should stay and support me. Maybe if you’re not interested in doing that, you should let somebody else go, because I have a lot of people who want to see me fish!” Hey, Jack, if you are an Alabama fan, get over it. If you didn’t want to hear it, you shouldn’t have had someone read this to you. Barbs are just part of fishing and football. Ha Ha.
The bright lights of the press boats suddenly jarred Nick back to reality. LSU 21, Bama 15. On his home lake. Horrors. And there was Les, soaking it up, the want to secure victory achieved, a wry grin on his face and a slight green stain on the corner of his mouth. “Well,” Miles says, “I gotta be honest with you, I think we definitely healed the scars of losing last year today. There was no lack of effort, energy and nerve. This was a fish-fight.”
“C’mon, Mett,” the coach said. “We’ve got bigger fish to fry. Have a great day.“
** NOTE: If you would also like to read about last year’s tournament, go to the search bar on this page and type in “Les Miles LSU” .