Tag Archives: bass fishing

Always Stay Humble and Kind

Steve Niemoeller, of Bassonline.com, who has helped this project enormously, hoists a St. Johns River largemouth.

I’ll admit that when I cross into what’s considered “The South,” I can’t help but change the Sirius Radio to the Highway, its country station. And I’ve heard the Tim McGraw song on a lot lately, and it’s resonated more and more with me throughout this trip.

If we have any type of success in whatever we attempt in life, it’s easy to start to think we’ve earned something, that because of what we’ve achieved, built or accomplished… we’re in some way ‘better,’ than those who have failed to do just that. I’ve been guilty of this, and I’m not proud of it.

But I think it’s important for us, throughout our lives, to look to others for inspiration and guidance, no matter how old we get. And when I look at the number of the people who’ve helped this project, not from some celebrity or business tycoon, but from a graduate student and freelance outdoor writer, it’s overwhelmingly evident just how many American people feel the exact same way, and live out that humility and kindness every day.

When I dreamt up Catch a Cure II, I sent e-mails to every company listed in the iCast catalog (the annual sportfishing trade show). Now we all open our e-mails every day and, unless it’s something from someone we know, we often disregard it. But the people at Get Vicious Fishing didn’t. The people at Native Eyewear didn’t. They opened the e-mail, their hearts and wallets and got on board.

The guides in Florida at BassOnline, who are the most professional, kind and helpful guys you’ll ever meet, didn’t hesitate to get right on board with the project, and went above and beyond to help out. Steve Niemoeller, Brett Isackson and Todd Kersey each went out of their way to see to it that Catch a Cure I, and II, got all the fish it could. Above all else, I want this project to be about hope, about a fun future for outdoorsmen that’s safer because it’s informed. And I could never create that kind of project alone, and those guys made sure I wouldn’t have to.

When searching for an outlet for this dream, I sent a Facebook message to B.A.S.S. social media editor Tyler Wade. How many of those must she get, in her job, per day? And she read mine, got back, and got on board for the project. That still amazes me every time I think about it.

And when I talked about my dream, of starting a beautiful fishing magazine for conventional (not fly) fishermen, an angler and professor named Gian Lombardo at Emerson College, where I’m a grad student, believed in it and got on board. He even helped me come up with an idea about how to build that very publication: By asking YOU what you wanted to see in it. And you can answer that question for me right here, and I’d greatly appreciate it if you would. And by the way, filling out this survey will make you eligible to win prizes, in case you need added incentive aside from getting the EXACT magazine that you want made for you.

And I never forget, when I’m out here, that most of the time this is enjoyable, if it’s at times challenging. But the people at the Melanoma Research Foundation, who are working with these dollars to fund the studies that WILL find the cure, they’re the ones who truly deserve a pat on the back, and our deepest gratitude. Katherine Daniels, specifically, has been a world of help to me as I’ve tried to figure out all the details that go along with a fundraising project like this one.

In truth, I’m kind of a shy young man. I don’t particularly relish being on camera to film these videos, or seeing myself in pictures with fish. I became a writer because… it seemed a preferable alternative to having to talk.

But when this disease came into my life, and my family’s life, I couldn’t help but see that as a challenge, to see it as having some purpose necessitating a response. Maybe I needed to see it that way, because UV rays causing malignant cells to spread throughout a loved one’s body and take his life, without any greater meaning in the grand scheme of things, is is somewhat hard to stomach.

And maybe life isn’t as complicated as we’d like to think, and things have a greater meaning if and when we decide that they do, for us, during that point in our lives.

But I know that the people who’ve come into my life through this effort, whether that’s the sponsors who’ve gotten on board, the people at Emerson who’ve encouraged the effort, the guides from Oklahoma to Florida who’ve helped… it has meant more to me than I can articulate. It has been a profound difference in my life at a time when I needed one. Their humility, kindness and help will stay with me forever. And most importantly, perhaps, when we as a species finally find the cure for this cancer, we can all say we had a small hand in that effort.

“Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you.” I’m certainly not.

Thank you all,

Rick Bach

On a Day Without Fish: Reflecting on the Best thing about Them

The simplest thing about fishing is the best: you can't fake a fish.
The simplest thing about fishing is the best: you can’t fake a fish.

Out here on the road, immersed in everything angling, you can’t help but wonder what it is about the sport that has and continues to draw people from all walks of life to it, and I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know any more than the next guy, so I’m certainly not here to preach any wisdom from on high some throne of experience.

I have been fortunate enough to fish a great many places, from the northern reaches of Maine down through the wonderful beaches of New Jersey (that were beautiful and fishy enough that I called them home for a while) to the blissful Outer Banks to the slooowed dooown, methodical and graceful backwaters of Georgia, out to the wide-open amazing expanses of Montana and Wyoming and into the bass-crazy havens hidden in California, and especially here in Florida, where you’d be hard pressed to find a place that’s not fishy in some sense. Thanks to guys at Bass Online, I’m experiencing the bass capital in a whole new way.

And I know what I love most about the sport, and what I think draws so many of us to it, is that there’s simply no “faking it.” In so many arenas in life, whether it’s testing our intelligence, strength or courage, there are shortcuts and trapdoors and loopholes that might make us appear greater than we truly are.

But with fishing, there’s only the fish, the true test of our abilities and our understanding of the world in which they live and the measure of our capacity to bring them, if only briefly, into ours… even if just for a picture.

And in fishing we find this genuine, “can’t-fake-it” arena where there’s some hard-sought but rarely found legitimacy that’s sorely lacking in other parts of our lives.

The water and the fish are the measure of everything about us in this one small slice of life.

And as a writer, if you’ve something to say, in time you’ll learn someone has likely captured the sentiment better than you possibly could and the best you can do is find him and quote him.

As a fishing writer, you’ll find that that someone is often John Gierach. In his book No Shortage of Good Days, he writes: “Life is an unruly mess and ideals are hard to hold onto, but fishing is an isolated enough slice of it that there’s the hope we can do this one small thing perfectly.”

And being absolutely unable to improve upon or add to that sentiment, I’ll leave you with it.

Taking a Bass Break for some New Floridian Fish: The Peacock Bass

These fish are as brutal as they are beautiful.
These fish are as brutal as they are beautiful.

“Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today, thanks to Todd Kersey of Bass Online I got the chance to get off the beaten path and experience a fishery in Florida that has only taken hold in the last couple of decades. In the mid 1980s Floridians introduced a new game fish into their southern waters, the peacock bass.

The peacock bass, which has origins in South America, is a brightly colored and ferocious game fish that was introduced to Florida waters in order to control the populations of other invasive species like the cichlid. They are originally from South America, the Amazon River specifically. And yes, Florida is the metaphorical “Old state that swallowed the fly…”

But peacocks have flourished in Florida and fish to 12 pounds have been caught. The only fish that I’ve caught that had a fighting ability comparable to these things is a bluefish. I mean they just ravaged our topwater Zara Spooks with reckless abandon and then you weren’t so much fighting them as you were hanging on for dear life.

It was a tremendous experience considering that southern Florida is the only place in the lower 48 where you can target and catch these fish. In total we caught a mix of largemouth bass and peacock bass, totaling 21 fish on the day. That adds up to an additional 49 dollars for the Melanoma Research Foundation, since we made the exception to count peacocks just this one time (promise).

Todd Kersey shows off a peacock bass that hit a spinnerbait.
Todd Kersey shows off a peacock bass that hit a spinnerbait.

It was something for sure that I’ll be hard pressed to forget no matter where this trip wanders from here. Kersey and his wife were some of the most kind, accommodating people I’ve ever fished with and I’d strongly recommend you get in touch with the Bass Online boys if you’re down in Florida and looking to fish.

But catching these fish was an experience that will stay with me for some time. If you’re ever in Florida and want to face the toughest fighting freshwater fish that swims, get in touch with the guys at Bass Online.

I can’t give away the exact spot that we fished, but Peacocks are spreading throughout the Florida canal system like wildfire in and around Miami, and they’ll eat a shiner, topwater bait or even a spinnerbait. It’s truly something that’ll have your friends in awe when you go back home, even if that home is right in the state of Florida itself.