When this site first started back in March 2012, Stan Fagerstrom became one of the early supporters of the site. A year later, during one of our frequent conversations on the phone, he asked how he could help with the site. That conversation led to Stan’s monthly column, Let’s Look Back. Stan provided nearly 40 entries over that first iteration of the site and I feel it only respectful we start putting some of those articles back out for all to enjoy. Here’s Stan’s first Bass Fishing Archives entry, originally dated, March 13, 2013. I hope you enjoy.
The kid didn’t obviously know nearly as much about bass fishing as I did.
He was standing up on the bank and slamming a surface lure down onto the surface of a narrow neck of the Columbia River slough I had just come down to fish myself.
“Are you having any luck?” I asked as I walked up.
“Not yet,” the kid responded, “but there’s a big one down there and I’m gonna get him. If you’ll take a look right down there in the corner you can see him.”
The kid reeled in as he spoke. Then he pointed his finger to indicate where the bass he was after was holed up. To my surprise, the kid was right. There was a fish down there and it was a dandy.
As soon as the kid got his lure back he immediately brought his rod up and slammed his lure back down again. It hit the water with a crash that would have scared the hell out of anything but a starving barracuda.
“Son,” I said, you’re just wasting your time. Anytime you can see a fish as easily as you can see this one, that fish can also see you. All you’re doing is scaring it. There are a couple of good spots down the bank a ways. If you want to come along I’ll show you where they are.”
The kid wasn’t about to leave that fish. “No thanks, Mister,” he said. “I’m gonna catch this one right here.”
“Okeh,” I said, “but like I said you’re just wasting your time.”
As I mentioned in my previous column, I hadn’t been bass fishing long myself when I had this experience. I wasn’t that far removed from having spent almost two years packing a rifle around the South Pacific in an infantry rifle company.
I knew I was still learning, but I certainly knew a helluva lot more than that dumb kid I’d offered to help. I remember thinking the only way that youngster would ever get that sizeable bass out of that pocket he was hammering would be a stick of dynamite.
I reached the spot farther up the slough where I’d been getting bass with some regularity. I’d found my prospects were always best if I could be there when the tide from the big Columbia River was moving into the sloughs its backwater had created.
I’d only made a half dozen casts when I hear that kid yelling his head off. “Better get back up there and see if he’s in trouble,” I found myself thinking. “Maybe he’s hooked himself or something.” I was in the process of reeling in to go check on him when I saw him racing down the shore of the slough toward me.
That dumb kid had hooked something, all right, but it wasn’t himself. It was that bass he’d been after. He had his rod in one hand and that bass in the other as he raced toward me.
“I got him, I got him!” he shouted as he reached me. “It’s the biggest one I’ve ever caught. I can’t wait to show it to my dad.” Then that kid turned around and went racing back just as fast he’d come. I watched him scramble up to where he left his bike and seconds later he was over the bank and on his way home.
The bass that lad had caught had to have been close to 5-pounds. That’s a sizeable fish for the Columbia River sloughs. It was also larger than anything I’d taken myself up to that time.
As I’ve mentioned, I figured I had a pretty good handle on this business of bass fishing when that kid had showed me I didn’t. It really went a whole lot deeper than that. What that kid taught me was that I really didn’t know squat.
Eventually, after getting my butt kicked as badly as that kid did that night, I finally realized and laid down the first plank in my bass fishing platform. It’s this: A largemouth bass doesn’t always do anything.
You’ll be better off scratching that word out of your bass fishing dictionary. I sure as hell have. I’ve replaced that word with two others that are reasonably acceptable. They are often and usually.
I’ll share some additional experiences that have done nothing but reinforce that sentiment in my next couple of columns.
-To Be Continued-
Love this piece. It’s nice to have a well-told story mixed in with all the great historical pieces on lures, boats, tournaments, pro anglers and book reviews. Stan Fagerstrom’s writing is like a cool breeze.