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Fresh off my second place finish at the Peach State Kayak Anglers hosted event on Lake Lanier. I decided to spend the next Saturday doing some fun fishing with a buddy. Little did I know then that it would be a decision that would change the course of my 2020 season.

I hit up Hard Labor Creek Reservoir outside Atlanta that Saturday, March 21. It’s a fairly new reservoir and they stocked some nice largemouth there and gave them time to grow before opening it to public fishing a couple years ago. I’ve caught some okay fish there, but nothing like I know is in there so I wanted to put in some time trying to figure it out.

The fishing that day was average – some buck largemouth in the 13-15” range – but nothing big. After about six hours on the water, I decided to call it a day and and headed back to the ramp. I got everything loaded into my SUV, the only thing remaining was to put my Coosa HD on the top of the vehicle like I’d done 100’s of times before. Only this time the load up didn’t go like the 100’s of times before.

I’m right hand dominant and I always roll the kayak onto its side and lift with my right arm doing the heavy work. The left arm helps stabilize during the lift and guide the kayak on the top of the vehicle. For some unknown reason, this time I went opposite, trying to lift with my left arm instead of my right. The moment I went to lift the kayak, I immediately heard two loud “pops” and felt an instant burning feeling in my left arm, both above and below the elbow. I knew right away that I had torn something – I just hoped it wasn’t too serious. I loaded up my kayak (properly this time) and headed home to ice the arm.

Since I had mobility and strength in the arm, I was convinced it was a minor tear and set about to let it rest for a couple week. I was sure that it would heal fine and that I’d be back on the water in no time. I posted a photo of the injury stating that I thought it was just a partial tear and almost immediately heard from my Jackson teammate Jason Griffith who told me I needed to see a doctor about it. Jason had the same injury a year or two before that occurred the same way and seeing my pictures, he knew immediately I was worse off that I had thought.

I quickly made an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon to get it examined. After a couple quick minutes looking at my arm, he told me I had a “distal biceps tendon rupture” (the biceps tendon had been torn off my forearm) that would require surgery to repair. An MRI the next day confirmed everything and surgery was scheduled for the next week.

Post-surgery, my arm was immobilized in a splint for several weeks, followed by twice that time in a sling. After eight weeks, I was cleared to begin light activity and slowly build back up to as full day on the water. My rehab fishing trips were short at first. My arm couldn’t handle much more than an hour of paddling and fishing before it quickly tired, and I needed to have help with the kayak load and unload process. It took more than another month to build up to a full day on the water. All told, I missed the next four events due to injury and rehab, returning to the water for our Etowah River / Lake Allatoona in mid-August. I’ll cover that in part four of my season recap series.