While tournament bass are driver David Goldsberry’s favorite target, he’ll happily fish for a mess of smaller fish. These bream, from the pond next to his home, are destined for the pan.
You don’t go out on Kentucky Lake if the weather forecast is for storms. But the weather around the lake can change quickly, and then things can get hairy.
When Paschall Truck Lines driver David Goldsberry is not on the road, odds are he’s on Kentucky Lake, and more than once he has wondered if he’d get off the lake alive.
“The wind can suddenly come up and surprise you. There were times out there I didn’t think I’d make it back; I was just like a little bitty bobber out there on the ocean in a storm,” he says. “I know the lake well enough, and I always check the weather forecast on television, and I watch all the time I’m out there. I know how it can change in the blink of an eye.
“Even so, a couple of times I was lucky to make it home.”
Kentucky Lake, partly in northwestern Tennessee and partly in southwestern Kentucky, is one of the world’s largest man-made lakes with 2,380 miles of shoreline and 160,000 acres of water. It can seem like an angry ocean when you are caught on it in a small boat when storms suddenly roar down.
But storms won’t stop Goldsberry, 44, from going out on Kentucky Lake.
“I’ve been living in the outdoors ever since I was a kid,” he says. “My dad took me hunting deer when I was real small. I carried a double-barreled cork gun. When I was maybe nine or 10, we went and I could shoot.” That was back in Illinois, little less than 100 miles west of Chicago, where he was raised.
“As I grew up we’d go up to Minnesota on vacation and go fishing. I loved it from the first time I went out there. It’s something I always wanted to do after that,” says Goldsberry, who drives the lower 48 with a Freightliner Century and a dry van, making most of his runs in the Midwest.
Today Goldsberry lives in Paris, Tenn., near his favorite lake. But “home” is really out in the woods or on the water. “I live outdoors nearly all the time I’m not on the road. I drive through the week, but I’m back on weekends, so the job really fits my needs, and I’ll be hunting in deer season or I’ll be going after bass. I’m out there as much as it’s possible to get out there. I have a life besides being a driver, so what I’ve got with PTL works out real good.
“I’ll get back, take the boat out to the lake, find my place, throw up the tent and be there for two or three days, whatever I can get.”
Goldsberry was a carpenter for most of his working life, but an accident led him into trucking five years ago. A fall from a balcony injured his feet, and he needed a job where he would not have to stand and work. “I had to get off my feet. I could have gone on welfare I guess, but that’s not me,” he says. “Trucking seemed to be a way to earn my living and have the freedom to do it my way for the most part.”
Goldsberry and his father Wayne, a retired machinist, still hunt and fish together, enjoying that father-son camaraderie that flourishes in the wild. There’s also a bit of competitiveness in that camaraderie.
They are both in a local bass club that meets in a little country store, and they fish in club tournaments against friends and each other.
“If I can’t be there [at the meetings], dad represents both of us. And I’ll drive all night if I have to be home for breakfast and a club tournament in the morning.”
Both men regularly take on regional qualifying tournaments in the hope of getting all the way to the big time and taking part in major competition. “Those big tournaments are a long way from the country store, but I’m trying to get into them every chance I get,” Goldsberry says. “I’ve fished some big tournaments, and it really is something to be out there with so many tournament fishermen.
Tournament fishing or just wandering in the boat on the weekend, Goldsberry loves to fish. “I don’t need a reason. I’m just as happy fishing for the fun of it on the weekend or trying to win a tournament.” When it comes to tournament fishing, Goldsberry says, “I do all right, I can hold my own. Dad got me into it, and I love it.”
The club holds its tournaments on Kentucky Lake, so when Goldsberry is out there he’s not just having fun – he’s doing research.
“If I’m out there, I’ll be looking for places or trying different lures or something like that. I’ll be working the lake while I’m relaxing,” he says. “Looking for something to help me win when the time comes, a little edge. I’m looking for places, trying to figure what lure will work at what depth.
“In this sport you can be coming up with nothing while a guy in a boat near enough to right next to you is chewing your butt off with all the fish he can handle, and the only difference is a tiny little bit of different color on the same lure you’re using. Experience is important, but so is spending time working out ahead of time where you are going to go and what you’ll use when you get there.”
But Goldsberry doesn’t always fish when he goes to the lake and throws up his tent.
“There are times I’ll just pitch the tent, find a shade tree and sit under there with a cold drink and relax. If it gets too hot, I’ll go swimming. I live outdoors on the weekends to get rid of the stresses and strains of the job. When I fish, I really put a lot into it. It’s intense, but it relaxes me. It’s nothing like the intensity you need when you drive.
“I’m a completely different person out on the water, or in the woods or in the tent for that matter,” he says. “When I fish I’m really into it, it’s exciting and there’s adrenaline, but I’m not on edge like you can get sometimes behind the wheel; that disappears when I go fishing.”
Goldsberry also hunts deer every chance he gets, another sporting adventure he still does with his father.
“I don’t get much of a chance, but I made it out five times last year and I was pretty successful. I got three bucks.”
Father and son fish the local tournaments in their own boats. On the water, Goldsberry is in an 18-foot Javelin bass boat with a 150-horsepower Yamaha outboard that will push him along at 65 miles an hour “or a little more.” His father fishes from a 20-foot Stratus with a 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard, but, says son David, “I can still outkick and outrun him.”
When Goldsberry is out on the road, his father helps keep his son’s boat in shape. “He’s retired, and he likes to fiddle with it,” Goldsberry says. “He’s a pretty good mechanic.”
So far, there are no reports that Goldsberry’s boat had any performance problems after Dad tinkered with it.
Have a Ball
Long days behind the wheel can leave you feeling restless, and sitting around is the last thing you want during your off days. So why not get the blood flowing in a competitive game of paintball? With countless fields throughout the country, paintball is a convenient and entertaining way to fill off-duty free time.
For those unfamiliar with the sport, paintball is an outdoor game that is a combination of tag, hide and seek, and capture the flag. Players use a paintball gun – they look like very real guns and fire soft, paint-filled (and easily breakable) balls the size of marbles – to mark opponents as out, instead of tagging them by hand. There are many game variations, but most revolve around the capture the flag theme.
Bob Gurnsey, Hayes Noel and Charles Gaines invented the game in 1981 in New Hampshire using guns that were originally for marking cattle or trees with paint. By 1983, the first tournament was held with cash prizes. Now there are numerous professional leagues.
As the professional paintball world grows, more recreational players are joining in on the fun, leading to more field locations. Web sites like www.paintball.com and www.warpig.com have field locators that link to the businesses’ web sites. This is an easy way to find a field near you that meets your requirements. (see “Finding a Field”)
Paintball is also a fun way to get exercise instead of spending your day off cooped up in the gym. An average game lasts about four hours and keeps the heart pumping with adrenaline, amounting to a fun-filled calorie-burning experience. Being in tiptop shape is not necessary to play paintball, though good physical condition helps. Players should gauge their play to their level of fitness. The game involves some short sprinting, so warming up and stretching before a game is a good idea.
Newcomers will need to rent a mask, goggles and a paintball marker at the field. The cost of an average game, assuming that you have no equipment of your own, is approximately $15-$30, which includes about 100-200 paintballs and a CO2 canister. However, the cost varies tremendously because the use of paintballs per game varies. Experienced players will use as few as 30 paintballs, but beginners might use between 200 and 500. An afternoon of paintball can get expensive if you get trigger happy.
The rules of paintball depend on the type of game, but there are some common rules of play. A game begins when a team (two or more players) tries to hit its opponents with a paintball. If paint hits a player and the mark is at least the size of a U.S. quarter, then the player is considered “out,” unless the rules allow for more than one hit per game.
Each player is required to wear a mask, goggles, a safety cup for men and closed-toed shoes to prevent serious injury. Players should always have the safety barrel plug on their guns when not in play. Paintballs travel at approximately 200 miles per hour, so it is important to follow safety guidelines. Getting hit by a paintball will sting and might leave a welt or bruise. It can break exposed skin, so it is recommended to wear clothing that covers the whole body. Many worry that getting hit will hurt too much for the game to be fun; however, after getting hit once by a marker from a safe distance, most realize that it is not nearly as bad as they had imagined.
Many players prefer to wear camouflage when playing in wooded fields, and some fields have camouflage available to rent. Camouflage is not necessary, but wearing bright colors is not recommended. If you don’t rent clothing, then play in clothes that are comfortable and that you don’t mind getting dirty. The paint is water-soluble so it comes out of most fabrics, but you might get a grass stain or two.
Despite knowing the rules and what to wear, you need to know a few strategies to avoid looking like you just stepped out of your truck and onto the field for the first time. The hardest part for new players is hitting their target. If you can’t hit another player, then you’re not going to be a successful player. Because the barrels of most guns are usually smoothbore and the paint is not a solid gel slug, shooting a paintball marker accurately is quite difficult even for experienced players. To combat these odds, try to pin your opponent by firing a number of rounds. While your opponent is hiding to avoid the shots, you will have the opportunity to get closer to your opponent, which will improve your shooting accuracy.
Another important aspect of the game is finding adequate cover. You should avoid being out in the open; solid objects like trees, hay bales and multi-walled bunkers make great cover. Avoid sparse brush and trellises because paint can still splatter and eliminate you. You can also use your cover to trick your opponents. Try popping your head out of one side of your cover a couple of times. When your opponent starts firing in that direction, pop out of the other side and fire at him or her.
Flanking is also an effective strategy as it negates your opponent’s cover. As you or a teammate battle with an opponent between covers, someone else sneaks around behind the opponent’s cover and catches the opponent exposed, allowing for an easy elimination.
Finding a Field
Before traveling to a particular field, you should research fields online to ensure an experience that is worth your time and money. An ideal field will be listed online with a phone number, directions to the field, playing fee, rental fees and options, hours of operation and other information. Most fields are only open on weekends, so keep that in mind while planning a visit. Also, look for fields that welcome walk-on players because it might be difficult for a driver to find a group that will be in the area with time to play.
Web sites like www.paintball.com and www.warpig.com have field finders with all of the information you will need to select a field.
Here are some fields you can check out online to see what is waiting at a top field for you. They have everything a first-time player needs for an off-duty game. They welcome walk-ons, offer equipment rentals and have reasonable prices.
Paintball USA – Houston, Texas – www.lonestarpaintball.com
Headrush Paintball – Syracuse, N.Y. – www.headrush.com/paintball
Diehard Paintball – Silver Grove, Ky. – www.diehardpaintball.com
Splat Action – Portland, Ore. – www.splataction.com
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