For the first 80 minutes of his first day on the water, Kansan Brent Chapman made cast after fishless cast without a strike.
While most anglers know such disappointment, few had done it when there's $500,000 on the line.
Chapman, of Lake Quivira, was one of 50 anglers in Louisiana last weekend for the Bassmaster Classic and finished fifth.
Chapman made a 240-mile round trip boat ride to his fishing spot, meaning he'd get only four hours in each day.
"It was really disheartening right off the bat. I'd already had a fog delay and was down to 2 hours and 45 minutes of fishing for the day," Chapman said. "But that's why we have a Plan B. I moved there and caught 18 pounds (combined weight of five fish) in about an hour and 10 minutes. That put me in fourth and I knew I was in the hunt."
Since going pro in 1996, Chapman has done well. He's earned more than $1 million in the sport he loves. Twice he's won $100,000 at major tournaments.
This was his 10th Classic. Last year he'd finished a respectable fifth.
This year's event was based from New Orleans to give anglers access to amazing amounts of water from the Mississippi River and the delta region.
All winter, Chapman had planned on fishing delta waters about 120 miles from the launch site.
He figured the half-day lost to boat riding would be worth it to get to the fish-filled, warmer water of the delta.
The week before the event started, his plans looked perfect. Water temperatures close to the launch near New Orleans were in the 40s. The fishing and water were both much warmer in the delta.
Then Mother Nature began to complicate his plans. A few days before the Classic, air and water temperatures warmed around New Orleans. That would help anglers fishing nearer the launch.
Heavy fog each of the Classic's three mornings were larger concerns.
Anglers are allowed about eight hours of fishing per day but any kind of delay is simply time wasted. Fog delays cost him 75 minutes the first morning. The 7 a.m. take-off the second day was delayed until 9:45 a.m. because of fog.
"It was one of the most stressful, exhilarating and exciting days of my life tied into one," Chapman said. "I was doing the math in my mind and knew I'd only have about an hour and 10 minutes to fish between long boat rides."
Still, his five-fish limit that Saturday weighed 20 pounds, 1 ounce and put him in second place.
"I was only (behind) about three pounds and that's doable to make up where I was fishing," he said. "It was an awesome feeling. I really liked my chances."
The leader at that point was Kevin VanDam, the most dominant and well-paid angler in bass fishing history.
He won the 2010 Classic. Chapman said Van Dam's $5 million career earnings are more than the second- and third-best anglers combined.
VanDam and a small flotilla of other anglers were catching fish from the same spot five minutes from the launch.
Chapman thought that was in his favor.
"There was a lot of pressure there and never in a million years did I figure that small spot could keep producing nice bass for three days," Chapman said. "I thought I had things going the way I wanted."
After another fog delay and long boat ride the final day, he found the water temperature had dropped 10 degrees in the delta as cold water had come down the river.
That's normally the kiss of death for quality fishing.
"I probably caught 30 bass that day and had a bag of about 16 1/2 pounds," Chapman said. "The big ones just didn't bite that day."
It may not have made much difference.
VanDam caught another huge limit. His three-day total of 69 pounds, 11 ounces set a Classic record and beat second place by more than 10 pounds.
It's VanDam's fourth classic victory. Chapman won about $25,000.
Still, he finds positives. It took unusually warm weather to make the fishing so good where VanDam and others were angling.
Under normal conditions, he thinks he would have won. That's what he plans to do next year.
"It's just a good motivator and pushes me that much harder," Chapman said. "The next level for me is winning the Classic."