Real stroke of luck for me in Kentucky

In seven years of travelling all over the U.S. to compete in bass tournaments, I’ve been pretty fortunate that I’ve never had any of my fishing gear stolen out of my boat or truck.
Alas, that all changed last week in Kentucky when the back of my truck was nearly cleaned out of fishing equipment while I was out fishing.
I stayed at Lake Cumberland for a couple of extra days last week to take some sponsor people fishing after our tournament. After the second day of fishing on Tuesday, I loaded my boat up and hit the road for Nashville, where I was meeting up with my girlfriend and a few other friends to spend a few days in “Music City.”
When I got to Nashville, I stopped outside of the city to drop off my boat at a friend’s place so I wouldn’t have to worry about it in the city. I then opened up the back of my truck because I wanted to leave a bunch of the fishing gear with my boat–only to find most of it was gone.
While I was fishing, somebody broke into the back of my truck through the side window of my cab and stole about 20 fishing rods and reels, a bunch of fishing line, and about 10 tackle boxes full of lures.
I was shocked. This was years’ worth of tackle that I had compiled and it was irreplaceable. I literally stared at the back of my truck for about 30 minutes before I could do anything.
I just told myself that it was only “things” and it was not the end of the world.
I called the local police department in Somerset, Kentucky but was not able to get a hold of anybody the night that I realized what had happened. I also called a few of my fishing buddies to tell them the bad news and then made a post on my social media pages asking for help–mostly for people to keep their eyes out for it in case it ended up for sale somewhere.
Late on Tuesday night, I heard from Jason Estes, a Kentucky game warden. He asked me for a list of everything that was missing and told me he was going to look hard for it the next day.
Nothing happened the next day and I felt like I probably was not going to see my things again.
But on Thursday morning, I got a call from Jason notifying me that he had recovered about half of my stuff at a local flea market. The person selling my fishing equipment had purchased it earlier that morning and fortunately got a photo of the seller.
That photo was passed around with the local police agencies and somebody recognized the person.
Jason was on his way to meet a couple of police officers to make a plan to look for the guy when he actually passed a vehicle that matched the description of one belonging to the person they were looking up.
He tried to pull the vehicle over but it would not stop and he ended up in a high-speed pursuit for six miles that ended at the person’s home. He was met there by police officers who quickly arrested the man.
When they did a search of the home, they found the rest of my fishing gear, as well as fishing gear belonging to two other anglers who I fish against on the FLW Tour.
We all got our things back, which is pretty amazing. I carry more gear with me than many of the anglers because I left home with my truck and boat in January and I had to pack everything I think I might need to fish tournaments at six different lakes between January and May on vastly different bodies of water.
For next year, I definitely will be beefing up the security of my rig a little bit because I never want this to happen again. When all was said and done, more than $15,000 worth of fishing equipment had been stolen.
A huge thank you to Jason Estes and the Burnside Police Department for their hard work to find my things and get them back to me. Most of the time these kinds of stories don’t have a happy ending so I’m very lucky.
I’m back on the water this week at Lewis Smith Lake in northern Alabama for stop #5 of our season. It’s a lake I’ve fished a couple times in the past and it’s one of my favourites, so I’m looking forward to having a good tournament this week.