By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
The Bassmaster Elite Series has been idle for more than a month, but Kevin Short has enjoyed little down time during that period. He and wife Kerry have spent much it designing what could be termed their "dream house."
It was a nightmarish scenario that that necessitated such an undertaking, though – BassFans will recall that the Shorts' home in Mayflower, Ark. was destroyed by a tornado in late April. They've been living in a fifth-wheel trailer they'd purchased just prior to this season and using a truck-mount camper, which had formerly served as their sleeping accommodations while on the road, as their office.
Between the two cramped spaces, they've made do.
"It's so strange, but when we switched from the truck to the fifth-wheel this year, that meant we both had to drive and I started thinking whether it was a good idea or if it was the right thing to do," Short said. "It's really odd how things work out sometimes.
"The fifth-wheel is a very nice one and it's big, but before the new house gets built I'm sure I'm going to be tired of living in it."
Little was Left
The Shorts were 300 miles from their home when the tornado struck on Sunday, April 27. Kevin was set to begin practice the following day for the Elite Series derby at Toledo Bend Reservoir.
When they got back to Mayflower early the next morning, they discovered that their house, which they'd live in since 2002, and another on the property that Kevin's father resides in were total losses. Their large shop, which housed the boat when they were home, was structurally sound, but the exterior had been thrashed.
Short, who's not a real sentimental type to begin with, was simply thankful that his dad was okay and regarded the lost material possessions as "just stuff." His wife wasn't quite as dismissive in regard to items she considered special.
"When we were driving home that night, she talked about how if somebody said she could go in and get 12 things and that's all she could have, she'd be good with that," Kevin said. "Of those 12, I think we got 11 of them.
"Otherwise, we never really liked the floor plan of that house anyway, so things worked out for the best."
Fairly Smooth Aftermath
Short said the design process for both new houses is complete and construction will begin soon.
"I was never one of those guys who just had to build a house – there were always so many nice ones for sale already," he said. "But when you have a clean slate it allows you to step back and say, 'Okay, what do I really want?' As you go along you'll see something you really like about a house, like maybe the front porch or the kitchen, and you say if you ever built one you'd do it just like that, but you don't ever sit down and sketch it out.
"We've been working on the plans since almost the week after (the tornado struck). We had an opportunity to try to figure out what would be the perfect house for us and we didn't want to get in a hurry to get it done. Kerry had never seen a house that she liked absolutely everything about, but as far as I can tell, she likes everything about this one. It'll have the look we want and the layout we want."
And what was the primary thing he wanted?
"A big-(butt) garage. I've always had to park my boat in the shop, which is across the street and downhill from the house. Having a garage big enough to put the boat in is a big deal for me, and this one will be 1,050 square feet."
He said dealing with insurance companies has been the easiest part of the entire ordeal.
"It happened on Sunday night and on Monday afternoon there was an adjuster on our street, and she took care of everybody. Most policies cover several different things – you have coverage on the structure, coverage on the contents, and several other little things. Within a week, we had a check for the amount we were covered for on our structure.
"It was absolutely a breeze."
Back to Business
Despite missing the Toledo Bend event and receiving no Angler of the Year points, Short still has a faint hope of qualifying for his third Bassmaster Classic. His best chance might be winning one of the two remaining Elite derbies or the final Central Open (he has two Elite victories and two Open triumphs on his ledger and two of the upcoming tournaments are on river systems, which are his specialty), but he could make it via the points list if he stages a huge rally.
He sits in 74th place and would have to be inside the Top 50 after the final regular-season stop at Cayuga Lake. From there, it's not inconceivable that he could move into the mid-30s at the AOY Championship at Michigan's Bays de Noc in September.
He believes he stands a puncher's chance, anyway.
"I like both (of the remaining Elite venues). That first one (on the Delaware River out of Philadelphia) is going to be in some guys' heads as a tournament that's going to be tough and in not a real friendly place. I don't have a problem with that – when it's hard to get a bite, I've done pretty well in the past.
"I've been to Cayuga once before and there's a few different ways to catch them there. The lake is real long, but it doesn't fish real big and it can get kind of crowded, but there's some different things a guy could do that might work out.
"Right now, my focus is just getting back into that Top 50."