Skip to content

Coming August 26th – SCOF 52 Ascofalypse Now

The New Strip Club

There is something about a fishing tournament that gets me going. It’s almost enough in and of itself. The SCOF crew was staying in Gainesville, GA, on Lake Lanier. When I arrived, Hank was tying up a mess of blueback herring clousers. His fishing partner Eli was sitting next to him rolling an occasional joke out from under the table, and Alan was sitting on the other side of Hank subtly critiquing his work. Then he saw my newly bought fly box with the price sticker still on it. I was mortified. None of my game changers were really ever going to be in the game, at least according to that fly ninja Alan. Unlike me, Alan has won tournaments before—even this one.

At the captain’s meeting at Alpharetta Outfitters, about 60 folks gathered to take part in the 2024 Striper Open. My expectations were rather low for competing. Sam would be my captain, and Gecko my partner in this contest that benefitted participants in Project Healing Waters, which is a non-profit that teaches veterans who suffer from trauma how to fly fish. The goal is to put rods and tying equipment in front of these real-life heroes. Even more, the goal was to get these vets out on the water with guides. To give them an experience with something wild.

Quite a few of the anglers had wives that were working the event or were at least supportive of this event by their attendance. It would have been despicable to take my tourney money away from this event, in spite of how the odds were stacked against out-of-towners, and move it over to the Pink Pony in Atlanta.  Three hundred dollars would have made a perfectly good contribution to Project Healing Waters, and to set it down like rain man before the strippers of the Pink Pony, unforgivable. The good gesture would have been transformed into a waste. The strippers may tell you they are using the money for nursing school, or their kids’ Ninja Turtle collections, but don’t you believe them.  

For about 20 years, I thought it was occasionally very fun to go to strip clubs. To spar with waitresses, to share emotional trials and tribs with women whose tribs look like a Niagara Falls of conflicts and hard luck. After the captains’ meeting, Sam and I went to stock up on groceries. I pulled up the Pink Pony on my iPhone. It was only 37 miles away. I remembered the last Pink Pony I did in Huntsville. After about 10 private dances with no gratification, the woman promised to meet me at the IHOP. I smelled a rat, and a sad pancake dinner alone. I vowed then that I would never go back.

Plus we all had to get up at 5:00 a.m. to get after the stripers. These landlocked striped bass were slapping all around the boat launch. Sam knew a few spots he had fished with Alan before, and so we hit a few of them. Gecko and I both caught nice 20-inch spotted bass. Hank caught an actual striped bass. Then a cold front set in, and the bite abruptly turned off. It was like the friction and compliment train of the Pink Pony if you were to experience the rare occasion of an ATM running out of money. The fish were lockjawed for the next few days.  

You’d think I would have wised up by Saturday evening, and gone for the excitement of the Pink Pony, but suddenly, I was all out of joy for making it rain. Raining dollars was too expensive.  The women smelled of cheap perfume and cheaper cigarettes. Of course Alan caught the biggest striped bass at 31 inches. Because he is Alan. But I am the most improved angler in that I no longer needed the tawdry touches and cheap thrills of a Pink Pony. Always stripers over strippers.