Updated: Apr 29, 2020
I was obsessed with fishing at an early age. I have pictures of me holding fish when I was just two years old. While I was introduced to the world of fishing by both my father and my grandfather, it was my grandfather’s passion for the sport that I inherited. His stories of years of fishing the San Francisco Bay became imprinted in my head as a kid and made me long for the days when I would be old enough and strong enough to bounce a 2 pound ball sinker across the rock piles and sand bars of the bay in pursuit of striped bass and halibut.
My grandfather and I became obsessed with bass fishing at the same time and I remember the moment that it happened. I was nine years old and while on a family camping trip at Lake Camanche we were at the marina fishing from shore near the docks when all of a sudden, boats started coming into the marina all at once. My grandfather and I began walking towards the ramp to see what was going on.
As we reached the ramp, we noticed the anglers from the boats begin putting fish after fish into bags, some that were very impressive to a nine-year-old, and walking them to a guy on the dock standing next to a table. Then we watched as this gentleman would place each angler’s bag on a scale like the ones you would find at the grocery store, a hanging scale, with a big red pointer that was set up on a stand on the table. He would then turn and tell another gentleman, holding a clipboard, what they weighed. It was all very interesting, and we watched until the very end, wondering what all of this was about. As the last angler weighed in, the gentleman behind the table announced to all the anglers that the awards would be announced in the boat parking lot in a few minutes.
At that point I remember turning to look at my grandfather, our eyes met and, in my mind, I felt like he was thinking the same thing as me… “there are competitions for catching bass?!” It was that moment that my grandfather was transformed from just a saltwater angler to a bass fisherman and I was along for the ride! The years that followed were filled with enthusiasm and heart pounding excitement as we pursued our newfound quarry. The obsession had begun.
The obsession never faded and at the age of 14 I had an assignment for a creative writing class and what follows are the words that I wrote:
“Catching a Largemouth Bass”
“On the southern shoreline of the lake, tules protruded out of the water and thrust skyward towards the dark grey overcast sky. A Great Blue Heron flew low over the tules, the tips of its wings slapping the tules with every rhythmic beat. My fishing partner and I idled the sleek blue bass boat along the shoreline. I sighted a spot which I felt looked good, so I turned the key to the off position. The 150 horsepower Mercury outboard gurgled for a split second and then was silent. I positioned myself at the seat on the bow casting deck so I could work the foot controlled electric motor, while my partner got positioned at the casting deck to the rear of the boat. I grabbed my 5’6” boron baitcasting rod. The level wind baitcasting reel that was seated firmly on this rod was filled with 12-pound test monofilament fishing line, and the lure tied to the end of the line was a black rubber jig with a black pork rind attached for an added attraction. I slung out a cast towards the tules and the lure landed inches away from them. It was a good cast! I turned the reel handle and the reel clicked into gear. I then reeled up the slack line, and by lifting the rod tip I moved the lure ever so slowly, so it bumped and nosed along the bottom. Suddenly I felt something tapping on the line and I knew that a largemouth bass had just inhaled the jig. I reared back hard on the rod, driving the needle-sharp hook into the fish’s mouth. Suddenly, I found myself in a tug-of-war with a strong fish. The bass came to the surface wildly thrashing around, but to no avail. I wrestled the bass closer to the boat and my partner slid the fish into the net. A GOOD SIX POUNDER!”
I have not changed a single word, sentence structure or punctuation in this writing from over 30 years ago. I wanted to share it as it was. Reading it again brings back all the excitement that I felt during the beginning of this journey of being a “Bass Angler”. I think about how things have changed over the years but when I read this, it brings me back to the years that I spent on the water with my grandfather and I realize that not much has really changed at all. I still drag a jig around and I still long for those perfect mornings just like described in this writing.