Tom Smith and Ray Gresham talk the old days fishing on the Tennessee River at the Fish Tales event held in November 2014 at the Florence/Lauderdale Tourism Center. Photo Brenda Serrano.

The last two weeks we posted the first two parts of a special event held at the Florence/Lauderdale Tourism Center in November 2014. The event brought together three of the original sticks on the Tennessee River, Bill Huntley, Ray Gresham and Tom Smith, to talk about their life experiences on the water during the early years of competitive fishing. Today’s post is the final episode of that get-together, Fish Tales Part 3.

In this episode, Smith, Gresham and Huntley continue their ribbing of each other as they recall events that happened over the years. Huntley starts out with a prank he pulled on a local angler who never gave him credit for his fishing abilities.

Then the conversation turns to questions from the attendees.

The discussion starts with a couple questions to Huntley about his place in coming up with the black light for night fishing as well as his early experience tying flipping jigs for Dee Thomas. This opened a story by Gresham and his first experience flipping.

They also talk about the old record tournament smallmouth limit (5 fish) of 27-plus pounds that came out of Pickwick back in the day as well as numerous 8- to 9-pound smallies taken over the years.

The question was then posed what other early organizations the three fished. Huntley told the story of being at an early American Bass Fisherman event where tournament organizer George Oates was arrested by the FBI for fraud. Of the three, they fished many of the early tournament organizations to include Dixie Bass, National Bass, American Bass Fisherman, and Project Sports Inc.

As the night goes on, Huntley talks about his turkey hunting exploits and a prank he pulled on a friend with a cormorant. It was an amazing night filled with stories.

Of the three anglers Ray Gresham and Tom Smith both nearly missed qualifying for the Bass Masters Classic. Gresham was the first alternate for the 1973 event while Tom missed qualifying for one of the earlier Classics by eight points. In fact, Ray Gresham qualified for a number of Operation Bass Redman All-Americans over the years.

We hope you enjoyed this series Fish Tales, put on by the Florence, Alabama Chamber of Commerce and the Florence/Lauderdale Tourism Center.

If you missed the first two parts in this series, click on the links for Fish Tales Part 1 and Fish Tales Part 2.