The following is a true story…
My name is TJ Shafer and I am the poster child for the weekend tournament fisherman. I have been fishing all of my life but just within the last two years have I really devoted my weekends to tournament fishing. The following is a story of one of those weekends that will always remain as a very special day in my life, and how Lazer Trokar Hooks played a huge part in it.
I had experience an extremely rough start to my 2011 tournament season. Signing up for the Bassmaster Weekend Series, East Texas Division had my adrenaline running in early as December of 2010. This was going to be the year that I gave it my all and fished hard all day long, never loosing a minute of focus. As I showed up for my first tournament I had received a phone call telling me that my link securing a spot to fish was a no-show and my hopes were that there would still be a spot for me. Those hopes quickly dies when I was told after the pairing meeting that I was not fishing. As I was driving home that night with boat in tow, it could have been easy to get down, or even upset at the situation, but the excitement of the next tournament a month away easily kept my feeling at bay.
The next tournament came along and as I sat in my boat ready for takeoff visions of my fishing heroes holding up their first place trophies wildly ran through my mind. I could not wait to get started. But this day of fishing proved only to be another enjoyable day of fishing with no trophy presentations featuring myself. Catching and weighing a few fish I could not help but think of the few fish that day that “got away”. I had always taken great pride in my tight knots inspecting the line after every few cast to check for nicks and frays in the line. Also knowing that when my 6’2″, 270 lb frame set the hook I used every ounce of energy and leverage to make sure that the hookset was solid and secure. But this day I had lost three fish. Could these three bites have made a difference? Could these three bites have been the difference in driving home empty handed and driving home with a First Place Trophy carefully secured with a seatbelt in the passenger side seat?
The third tournament rolled around and as I drove three hours to my next challenge again I was focused and ready to get a hook wet. But this time it was no ordinary hook that would be getting wet. I had armed myself with the new Lazer Trokar Hooks. I was bothered by my performance in my last tournament. I could not let the thought escape my mind that the three fish that escaped my grasp could have made the outcome of that tournament different. So I researched in my spare time reading articles, talking to people at the boat ramps, and even making a phone call to the one fishing pro I knew. All of my research led me to one product line… The Lazer Trokar Hooks. As I again anxiously waiting for the director to call my boat number for take off I began practicing in my mind the retrieve of each lure, the pressure of the bite, and the feared hookset. I was ready. As my number was called the boat took off with a mind of its own blazing a white-water trail to the first spot. The morning was slow, but then without any warning there was the light tap indicating that a fish was testing the lure. Without hesitation and without fear I violently threw the rod back setting the hook. This hookset felt like no other time before. Did I do something wrong? Oh, no… did I also botch this hookset? Wait, wait one second, the line took off bending the rod over almost double! I reeled carefully but aggressively making sure this fish knew he was in my grasp and finally getting him to the boat I noticed something, something that gave me great joy. This fish, my first keeper, was securely hooked through the roof of it’s mouth. He was mine all of the way. Could it have been a coincidence that the hookset felt so effortless and appeared to be inserted through the upper lip of this fish by the hand of God? I shook off these thoughts and focused on getting my second fish in the boat.
Throughout the day the fishing seemed slow and the fish were in no way aggressive. I carefully executed each cast placing the bait in key areas while with kid hands working the bait back to the boat. That day I managed to get 5 bites, and capitalized on each of those 5. I fished to the last second of that tournament day racing my boat back to the ramp for weigh in. I knew it had been a tough day for me, was it just as tough for others? Grabbing my weigh-in bag I carefully inserted each of my five fish into the bag knowing that one was a pretty good chunk. I walked up to the stage and waited for my turn to walk across and weigh my fish. Nerves built up as I glanced at the other anglers and their bags hoping that this might be a day for me to come home with a check… maybe even a trophy. I reflected about each of my 5 bites as my turn was nearing. I knew that the fish were not tearing the baits up. How did I manage to harvest each of those cautious bites? Then it hit me. I had been so focused on fishing I had not even thought about the new hooks. As I thought of each opportunity that each fish gave me that day I realized the impact these hooks had made. Would a hook that was made with less care and attention have worked as well? The calling of my name through the PA system interrupted my train of thought as I walked onto stage. I carefully placed my weigh-in bag on the scales. After a few brief seconds my weight appeared on the scale. I was in first place! Adrenaline rushed through my body as I lifted my biggest fish up for all to see. Walking down the stairs I understood that there were several anglers left, but I hoped my standing would hold.
What seemed like an eternity finally came to an end with the tournament director closing the scales. My name was called and I walked on stage and proudly received my trophy for first place. I had done it. I had achieved a dream. I had won a tournament. Driving home that day with the trophy securely strapped in the passenger seat with the seat belt I could not help but think about the bites I had that day. The fish were so careful, so cautious. What made the difference in securing those fish and loosing the ones the last tournament. I reached in a brown bag stowed in the back seat and pulled out a package of Lazer Trokar Hooks. I open the package and pulled one hook from it’s carefully positioned place. I felt of the hook. The solidness of it, the sharpness. I knew this is what made the difference.
I finished out the 2011 Tournament Season with one win and ending the season in the top 40 qualifying me for Regionals. Throughout the year I did not miss a single fish that bit a bait on a Lazer Trokar Hook. To this day, there are no other hooks in my box other than Lazer Trokar Hooks, and as far as I’m concerned, there never will be.
Team TroKar Captain TJ Shafer