Tracy K. Lorenz / Outside Chance

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Not AprilFools

I’m writing this on April 1, 2020, exactly five years to the day from when I got a call from my former college roommate Mike McClure. That call led to an adventure that would rank in the top five experiences of a pretty experienced life.

Mike was at the gym when his phone received a tweet from some sports marketing firm in Atlanta saying that he (Mike) had been chosen as Michigan State’s #1 Fan and that AT&T was going to fly him and three friends to Indianapolis for an all-expenses-paid trip to the Final Four. Mike was a little suspicious because not only hadn’t he entered any contest, he wasn’t even an AT&T customer. Any normal person would have immediately disregarded the message (more on that later) but it had a little blue check-mark next to it which, according to Mike, meant it was verified by Twitter as real.

When Mike got home he called me and told me about the text and the blue check mark, he said there was a plane waiting for us in Detroit. He read me the tweet, told me about the check-mark, and how, even though it was April Fools Day, he didn’t think it was a prank.  He asked me if I wanted to go, I thought “What the heck,” and said I’d go but suggested we drive just in case it was a scam (I was POSITIVE it was a scam) we wouldn’t be trapped in Indianapolis listening to a Timeshare spiel.

Okay, so now we had two suckers willing to waste a weekend on a whim, we just needed two more.

We called everybody, former college friends, regular non-college friends, people we met in line at Arby’s who seemed nice, and everyone said we were morons for falling for an internet scam. I couldn’t convince anyone to go. But Mike talked a cousin of his and a business associate from Ohio into taking the risk. Now we had four.

I met Mike and his cousin at a half-way point south of Wayland. The ride to Indianapolis was filled with talk centering around what schmucks we were. Mike was so sure we were being duped that he had driven straight from the gym and was wearing sweatpants and a do-rag. None of us were wearing anything even remotely “Michigan State”.

When we arrived at the Marriott a camera crew was waiting to capture our reaction. Not only was it real, it was unreal. We had a handler (Hannah) whose only job, as far as I could tell, was to throw money and gifts at us and get us into places we had no business being. When we got to our rooms(s) there was a Beats Pill XL, Beats wireless headphones, Michigan State clothing, NCAA Final Four Luggage, a Go-pro, Visa gift cards, passes to private parties in the CBS Hospitality Suite, our tickets to the Final Four and the Finals, and so much more. How over the top was it? I can still hear Hannah saying “Take whatever you want from the mini-bar, it's on us;” tell me that’s ever happened in your life.

Within an hour we were eating $25 shrimp cocktails for appetizers at St. Elmo’s. There was a line to get in but not for us, we were led to a private dining area where guys like Tony Romo and Charles Barkley were sitting. The next night I sat at the table next to Mitt Romney, it was name droppers’ heaven, I could rattle off a dozen more but, well, I’m too humble to mention Kareem, The Rock, Bill Raftery, Bryant Gumble, Steve Smith, Grant Hill, Wynona Judd, Dennis Miller, and the like. 

Backstage passes for the Imagine Dragons concert, private tours of the Indy 500 raceway and the NCAA Hall of Fame, playing H-O-R-S-E with Shaquille O’Neil, every time we turned around they had some other spectacular thing waiting for us. Had we actually flown I don’t know how we would have gotten all the swag back. I mean the 50” TV alone took up quite a bit of space.

But back to the part about people deleting the message, AT&T invited four people from each school in the Final Four (Michigan State, Duke, Kentucky, and Wisconsin), two people showed up from Duke (a girl and her mom who was chaperoning her daughter because she thought it was a scam), a guy from Kentucky and his mom, and nobody showed up from Wisconsin. We spent the whole four-day weekend texting pictures to the friends who turned down the invite. Did it make them feel blue? ... Check!



Printed by permission of the author. Email him at Lorenzat
large@aol.com.
Get Tracy’s latest book at BarnesandNoble.com or Amazon.com, or  download it from www.fastpencil.com.
Only $3.99, cheap.

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Outside Chance

It’s the simple things that make a difference

Perch fishing started in earnest about two weeks back. Bodies of waters that connect to Lake Michigan are becoming very consistent for us. They include Spring Lake, Lake Mac, Muskegon Lake and White Lake.

Inland lakes that normally produce for us but we have not been on include Crooked Lake, Gun Lake, Gull Lake, Fremont Lake and both Croton and Hardy Ponds.

Now before anyone gets in an uproar, according to the DNR website this is an acceptable and suggested event under the Governor’s restriction list. You need to practice safe distances and the cleaning procedure.

Tying up or buying rigs and having them ready is a huge time saver. Flies and glow in the dark tear drops have proven themselves over and over for us. Good flies include homemade and the Perch Pounder rigs . The Perch Pounder rigs are used on at least 1 rod each time out.

We like switching colors and combinations. Often we run a fly and a teardrop on one rod. The second rod might be the same but in a reverse order. Do the fish want the bait near bottom or up a foot?

This is where the Speed Snaps come into play. With the speed snaps we tie up our own rigs and can change colors or style of baits quickly. We tie a small overhand loop knot and have a bearing swivel on the top with a snap lock for the bell sinker on the bottom.

All of our rigs are wrapped onto a Plano plastic rig saver. These rigs are about 5 inches long, maybe 2 inches wide and a quarter inch thick. You can wrap two rigs onto each holder and they stack up 4 deep into each slot of my Plano tackle box.

A tip when doing this: put your lures onto the rigs. The Speed Snaps have a nasty habit of catching everything if no lure is attached. Swim noodles work but they do take up a fair amount of room. All of our bluegill and walleye spinner rigs go onto these Plano Snell holders.

Another handy device is the Speed Snell. Shaped like a mini barrel this little device is super slick when wanting to add extra bait to your line. We do this a lot with perch and occasionally with bluegills when these fish are nose to the bottom. You can easily run a lure below your sinker in this set-up.

A third handy accessory is the Speed or Quick change clevis for spinners. All of our crawler and worm harness rigs have them. No need to make up dozens of spinners when you can quickly change blades. A later article will detail the limited color of blades that we use for bass, walleye, gills and perch.

When using super small blades for perch and gills we use the Clev-R-Clip Clevis. This clevis works great with blades in the 000, 00 and 0 size which are very small. The small blades turn at the slowest speeds possible on this clevis.

Another handy tool is the Carlisle Stop Knot for slip floats. They come on a small piece of plastic and you insert your main line thru the plastic and then slide the slip float stop onto your line. Folks, forget a clip on bobber. Go with a slip float. They work great from 1 foot depths to 25 feet down.

Speaking on that, we carry an assortment of slip floats. From the very tiny floats used on panfish in the shallow backwaters to the larger floats used on walleye and deep suspended crappie.

The only non-slip float we use is the plastic casting missile floats. These floats are killer on shallow water or on surface feeding panfish. You tie one end to your mainline and then a leader that is shorter than the length of your rod on the bottom end of the casting float. Add a fly, teardrop or a hot leg spider and you are in business.

Last two items include a scissors and a jig eye buster. A good scissors is a must for cutting line, etc. and the inexpensive jig eye buster for removing paid in your teardrops. Tie up some rigs when cooped up. Make sure to buy a few Perch Pounders in various colors and don’t forget the gold colors!

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