Category Archives: Fishing With Family and Friends

Five Tips for Making Fishing a Memorable Family Affair

Multispecies angler, Josh Peacock, shares what he has learned throughout the process of igniting the fishing flame in his kids

Take your family fishing


PARK FALLS, Wisc. (May 31, 2022) – Raised in Kenora, Ontario where the water from all one million acres of Lake of the Woods eventually flows into the Winnipeg River, Josh Peacock is a fisheries biologist, tournament bass angler, and a former full-time fishing guide. Like many other men his age, Josh is also a husband and a father.

Peacock comes from a long line of river rats. His four-year-old son, Brock, and two-year-old daughter, Eva, make it six generations of Peacock’s on the Winnipeg River dating back to the early 1900s. “The Winnipeg River is a special system with lots of fish, flora, fauna and an abundance of space to recreate,” says Peacock. He claims the river is in his blood. “Some days I swear I can feel it coursing through my veins. There have been days where I’ve felt such an intense connection with my surroundings that it has actually brought tears to my eyes. Not usually because of a fish, either; sometimes it’s just the way the water looks or the way the wind blows,” he states. “It can be a chance encounter with a normally secretive great blue heron that keeps following me around as we are on the same fishing pattern, or an osprey that suddenly appears overhead while I’m thinking about someone that isn’t with us anymore. Those are the connections I want my kids to have with Nature.”

Peacock says he never really thought much about how his family goes fishing together until recently. Seems his frequent family-fishing social media posts began to illicit a steady stream of messages and comments from inspired new parents, friends, and family members. “How do you get to spend so much time on the water?” they ask. “It must be nice!” they exclaim. “Got any tips for new parents wanting to get their kids out in the boat?” Peacock took pause.

“I guess I do!” was the answer he heard in his head. Peacock offers five “rules” for making the most of family-fishing fun on the water.

Rule # 1 – Start Them Young

Peacock advises parents to involve their kids in outdoors experiences as early as they are comfortable getting them out. “My parents had me in a boat at three weeks of age,” Peacock shares. “I truly believe that the gentle rock of a boat, the hum of an outboard, and the sound of water lapping against the boat not only calms newborns, but it alters their DNA in a positive way. Both our kids were born in the wintertime, but as soon as the ice melted, we made sure to get them out in their snow suits – all bundled up for their first ride on the river.”

Peacocks says he and his wife, Paula, have made the first boat ride of the year a family tradition. “Our kids have taken center stage in that tradition,” Peacock says. “We do lots of idling and sight-seeing, run the auto-chart live and make a few maps, maybe fish an hour or so tops – just to be able to say we caught our first bass of the season. These annual first rides get our kids reacquainted with wearing their sunglasses, lifejackets, sunscreen, and hats so it becomes second nature throughout the rest of the boating and fishing season. We make it fun and say things like, ‘don’t forget your fishing hat, or your special fishing glasses!’ We teach them good habits by wearing PFDs ourselves and always wearing the kill-switch tether. As you get older, you realize you are more than a role model to your kids. You are their super-heroes, and they are like sponges and parrots.”

Rule # 2 – Make it Fun, Keep it Fun

Peacock says you can’t fake true enthusiasm, and kids are excited when you’re excited. “I’m constantly astounded by what a child can pick up on,” he says. “I truly believe if you are positive, enthusiastic, and excited. They will be to. I love to go fishing and I love to catch fish, so my kids love those things, too.”

Peacock says keeping things fun starts with making sure kids are comfortable. “Pick a fair-weather day. Light winds, no rain, and sunshine but not heatstroke weather,” he offers. “Make sure they are dressed for the conditions and pack plenty of snacks. Not the ‘Tournament Lunch’ like a bag of trail mix and a Gatorade; I’m talking the whole nine yards. My wife, Paula, is the snack master. Kids love snacks, so spoil them a bit. Have them associate fishing with fun things, not just fishing, and certainly not just sitting there bored while mom or dad fish. A picnic in the boat with the Power-Poles down, or a nice shore lunch or beach spot to break up the day is always a good idea.”

When fishing, Peacock says to pick quantity over quality. “You and I would love to spend all day flipping for largemouth and getting six bites in eight hours for 20 pounds, but kids not so much,” Peacock advises. “Think action! Live bait and slip bobber setups are great for catching almost anything. A couple dozen live minnows are your best investment in making sure your kids have an unforgettable day. When fishing is slow kids, love to play with them, too.” Peacock extends the fun by setting a minnow trap and checking it regularly with his son. “Whether we catch eight minnows or five dozen, he loves it. We get some fresh air and exercise and extend our lessons about nature.”

Rule # 3 – Temper Your Expectations

Peacock says not to stay out too long and advises on planning for what happens when kids start to get restless. “We often bring two vehicles to the launch. I usually launch the boat ahead of time and have everything ready to go,” he says. “If your trip needs to be cut short for whatever reason – inclement weather, forgot diapers, maybe your ‘threenager’ is having a meltdown, etc. – one parent can cut bait while the other can deal with kid # 2, loading the boat, or maybe stay out on the water for a couple of extra hours to catch supper! Anytime on the water is better than none at all.”

He also says you shouldn’t expect to be fishing nonstop yourself. “You can fish on your own time. Focus your attention on helping your kids be successful,” he offers. “You will have successes and you will have failures, but if you remain focused on your kids, they’re going to have a good time, and that’s the win, not how many fish you catch.”

Rule # 4 – Have the Right Gear

“For early spring, we all wear our snowmachine or ice-fishing suits, neck warmers, toques, long underwear, winter boots, gauntlet mitts – the whole nine yards,” Peacock says. “Bring heavy blankets, too. Our kids have always slept really well under the consoles of my Skeeter. We make them comfy beds with blankets, or a ‘fort’ as Brock likes to call it. We also bring a stretchy sunshade that drapes over the console. Some days it feels like we are moving out of the house as I struggle to find another boat compartment to put more snacks or clothes into, but it pays to be prepared.”

Peacock says Brock’s rod of choice is a super-hero-themed spincast combo, but he is starting to become more interested in his dad’s full-sized St. Croix rods, so he keeps a couple of them – Avid and Triumph models – outfitted with spincast reels he helps Brock use whenever he asks. He also bought and stocked a matching tackle box for Brock. “Making sure kids have their own gear goes a long way in giving them ownership of what’s going on, makes them more excited, and begins to teach them lessons about taking care of your equipment,” Peacock says. “Buy your kids a small net with a long handle and invest in a couple of minnow scoops, too. Even if your kid isn’t catching they will love netting the fish and helping out. It also doubles as a sweet bug or frog net!”

If your kids are a bit older or your family in general is new to fishing, Peacock recommends simple 6’0 – 6’6 medium-light, fast action rods, like those available in St. Croix’s Triumph, Avid, and Premier series. “This rod length, power and action combination is one of my favorites of all-time,” Peacock says. “It’s such a perfect and forgiving rod for jigging live bait, slip bobbers, or casting for bass and pike. And if you happen to stumble onto a large pike or a musky this rod will pass the test. Spool up with some inexpensive eight-pound monofilament line and you are in business.” Peacock adds that while these rods are all very durable, he says it’s nice to have St. Croix’s warranty and customer service to fall back on if any accidents happen. “St. Croix truly has a rod for everyone in the family at every price point. Their quality, craftsmanship and warranty set them apart from the rest.”

Rule # 5 – Make Memories

Peacock advises any parent going down the path of introducing their kids to fishing to simply enjoy whatever stage they are at. “Enjoy the journey,” he says. “If you start thinking there’s a concrete destination and are in a rush to get there you’re going to miss a lot. Celebrate every fish and every outing with your kids. More than once on the drive home from the lake, when the truck is all quiet, I’ve heard an innocent and grateful voice in the back seat say, ‘dad, that was a really fun day.’ Or at bedtime when instead of reading a story book he wants me to recount our day on the water and talk about all of the super fun things we did and experienced.

“That’s why the Peacock’s go fishing.”

Digging Bait and Other Ways To Get Fishing Bait Growing Up

Digging bait was always fun, mainly because it was preparation for a fishing trip.  We used all kind of bait in local ponds to catch bream, catfish, a few bass and a good many turtles, and red wigglers were one of our favorite baits.

    On our farm we had seven chicken houses with a total of 11,000 laying hens.  The four old houses were long wooden sheds with chicken wire walls. The birds ran free inside on the wood shaving floor.  Their roosts were wooden frames set down the length of the house on either side of the center. 

    The support posts inside divided the width into thirds. On the downhill side, a galvanized trough three inches wide and five inches deep ran the length of the houses at a slight slant.  At one end was a faucet that dripped constantly. At the other end a nipple in the drain stuck up about four inches and acted as an overflow pipe much like the one in a pond, keeping water up to four inches deep the length of the trough. Water slowly ran over the top and out a pipe to the outside.

    The water was very fertile since chickens are not real careful where they leave their droppings, and every morning one of my jobs was to remove the nipple, turn the water on at the other end and walk the length of the trough with an old broom, cleaning out the mess.  It flowed out the drain pipe.

    The ground behind the house near the drain was always wet from the constant flow of water and extremely rich from all the droppings washed out every day.  Red wigglers found it an ideal habitat and we could dig a can full in a few minutes with just one or two scoops of dirt with a shovel.  There would be dozens of worms in every shovel full and picking them up from the ooze was easy.

    Every critter that lives in water loves red wigglers. We even caught crawfish on them when fishing for catfish on the bottom.  They were our staple bait when fishing but we did have many others.

    The chickens themselves provided great catfish bait.  With that many birds on the farm, a few died every day and I would cut them open and take out the heart, liver and gizzard.  Those innards put in a jar and set in the sun to ripen made an irresistible bait for catfish of kinds.  The livers were soft and hard to keep on the hook but gizzards and hearts were tough enough to last through several fish, if we could get past the smell when putting them on the hook.

    One of mom’s favorite baits were meal worms. We didn’t buy them, we grew our own.  Mom would fill a coffee can half full of corn meal and flour siftings and let it sit open for a few days, then put a cover of cheese cloth or old curtain sheer over it. 

    The eggs the flies laid in the corn meal while the top was open soon hatched into grubs, also called maggots, and grew from tiny white worms barely visible to light brown bait about an inch long. If left too long they turned black and tough and fish did not like them much.  After that stage they soon emerged as young flies.

    Although maggots stunk when taken from dead critters, taking on the smell of rotten meat, they were clean and odorless when grown in corn meal.

    Anything we could catch was tried as bait. Grasshoppers, wild crickets, caterpillars, crawfish, big white grub worms and wasp eggs were all good and most harmless. But wasp eggs were a special problem.

    First, just getting the nest with the larvae growing in it was dangerous. We did not want to spray the nest with poison to kill the adults guarding the nest since it tainted or killed the larvae.  What I would usually do after locating a good nest during the day was go back in the dark, knock it to the ground with a long pole and run off. 

    Wasps do not fly in the dark so after a few minutes I could go back and pick up the nest, being careful to step on any adult wasps that had stayed with the nest.  You could not wait too long to go back for it since ants would quickly find the source of food and be all over the nest.

    The nest was then put in the refrigerator in a paper sack to slow down the growth of the larvae.    You had to be very careful when taking the sack out for a fishing trip since some larvae would come out as an adult even in the cold.  Since they were cold they were sluggish but you had to open the sack carefully and kill any adults that were barely able to move around and sting you.

    I found out the hard way that a sack with a nest in it, left in the sun while fishing, would make any larvae close to changing make the transition to adult quickly. More than once, in the excitement of catching fish, I would reach into the bag to get a new bait and get stung by a newly changed adult wasp.

    A friend once told me how he would take tiny pieces of meat and stick a little strip of cigarette paper on it.  Left outside, a yellowjacket would often pick up the piece of meat to take to their underground nest. He could follow them to the nest by tracking the tiny white dot of paper.

    Yellowjackets build big underground nest with paper cells that look like wasps nest.  My friend said he could sell a big nest to fishermen too timid to try to get them on their own for several dollars.

    I did not know about yellowjacket nests as a kid or I am sure I would have tried his trick to get my own bait!  

St Croix Rods Celebrate National Fishing and Boating Week


It’s National Fishing and Boating Week, June 4-12.

Over the past several weeks we have been providing tons of great information to help you get those that are new to fishing, inexperienced, or feeling helpless back out on the water. Now is the moment to put shine and put all of your hard work to good use.

Get your friends, family and up and coming anglers out on the water and show us your fish. Post your story to social media, tag ASA and RBFF and #ShowMeYourFish!

Why St Croix Rod?Meet the individuals who make St. Croix Rods in Park Falls, Wi. The employees at St Croix Rod speak to why being part of the Team that builds the “Best Rods on Earth” is meaningful to them.

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BASS Founder Ray Scott Dead At 88 Years Old

RAY SCOTT DEAD AT 88

from The Fishing Wire

Ray Scott Dead at 88

Ray Scott, the man who founded Fishing Tackle Retailer (FTR) and the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS) and forged the modern sportfishing industry died in Montgomery, Alabama, Sunday night of natural causes. He was 88 years old.

Born in Montgomery in 1933, Scott’s legend is well known among bass anglers. He was an insurance salesman who dreamed of taking bass fishing to a wider audience. In 1967, while waiting out some bad weather on a fishing trip, Scott sat in his motel room and had an epiphany. He would create a bass tournament format that would be fair, honest, and compelling. He dreamed of a time when professional bass fishing would appear on television alongside traditional spectator sports.

“It all just came to me,” Scott said. “I knew it would work.”

In June of 1967, he organized and conducted the All-American bass fishing tournament on Beaver Lake in Arkansas — the first modern bass competition and the template for all that have followed. Six months later, he started BASS, one of the largest fishing membership organizations in history. In 1968, he published the first issue of Bassmaster Magazine. In 1984, he launched “The Bassmasters” television program. About that same time, Scott started Fishing Tackle Retailer magazine as a division of BASS. It was his foray into the larger tackle industry and created a platform through which he could speak to retailers and industry professionals across the country and across all angling demographics.

“He created an entire industry,” said FTR co-publisher Brian Thurston. “Ray was probably the most influential individual sportfishing has ever seen and one of the best promoters of all time.”

It would be almost impossible to overstate the importance of Scott in the bass fishing world specifically and in the sportfishing world generally.

While growing BASS — which peaked at about 750,000 members and still boasts over half a million — Scott impacted virtually every other aspect of modern sportfishing, from water quality to safety to catch-and-release. He was a visionary, a trailblazer, an evangelist, an igniter, a showman, a salesman, a marketer, an entrepreneur, a publisher, a conservationist, and a leader. Most of those who work in the bass fishing industry and many in the sportfishing industry owe their careers to him.

Scott sold BASS and FTR to a group of investors in 1986, but he stayed involved as an executive and as the face of BASS. In the 1990s, he created Ray Scott Outdoors, a communications and marketing firm for fishing industry products and companies. Throughout the ’90s, he was a fixture at industry trade and consumer shows.

But fishing was not Scott’s only interest or passion, he also founded the Whitetail Institute of North America, advancing nutrition and habitat efforts for America’s favorite big game animal. And Scott was involved in politics, supporting the presidential bids of George H.W. Bush in 1980, 1988, and 1992. For several decades, Scott dedicated much of his time and resources to supporting his church — Pintlala Baptist Church in Pintlala, Alabama.

He is survived by his wife, Susan, and four children. Funeral services have yet to be announced.

Four Fishing Etiquette Tips Desperately Needed By High School Fishermen and Captains and Too Many Other Fishermen

FOUR FISHING ETIQUETTE TIPS

One of the biggest pet peeves for many freshwater anglers is when they are having a good day fishing from a boat in a quiet spot on the lake or river and another angler comes along, pulls up right beside them and starts casting in the same area without asking first.

“It happens pretty much on a daily basis,” said Mercury Pro Team member Michael Neal.

If it’s a public body water, everyone is welcome to use the resource, of course. In most places, there are no written rules about how far you need to stay away from other boats and anglers. It’s within your rights to fish next to someone, as long as you aren’t harassing them (intentional angler harassment is against the law in many states). It’s up to each individual angler to decide what’s responsible behavior in terms of how much distance to put between your boat and theirs. Practicing good fishing etiquette means treating other anglers and boaters on the water with respect and giving them their space.

Neal, who fishes the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour and Pro Circuit, said it all comes down to following the Golden Rule. “Treat others the way you want to be treated,” he said.

“Communication is key. It’s the number one thing that makes your day on the water go smoothly,” added Mercury Pro Team member and Bassmaster Elite Series angler John Crews.

Here are four fishing etiquette tips from these two pros to help keep it friendly and fun for everyone on the water. What’s outlined here are unwritten rules that guide tournament anglers and serious recreational anglers.

  1. A “bent pole pattern,” indicating that an angler has a fish on the line, is not an invitation to take your boat to that angler’s position and start fishing right next to them. It’s probably better to go somewhere else, but if it’s a spot you had already hoped to fish, just wait it out. “My advice is to wait until they leave to go over to that spot,” said Neal.
  2. When another angler is fishing in a spot near where you would like to fish, stop your boat within hailing distance and let the person know your wishes. For example, if an angler is fishing partway back in a creek, and you want to fish all the way in the back, ask first if he or she intends to head deeper into the creek before you go there yourself. “If I go into an area where someone else is fishing, I ask them if they are going to continue, and if it’s OK for me to fish there. If they are having a bad day and they want to be rude about it, you don’t want to be fishing around them anyway,” Crews said. On crowded lakes, you’re likely to wind up fishing near someone. In that case, keep a respectful distance. “We usually have a mutual understanding: ‘Don’t get any closer to me, and I won’t get any closer to you,’” Neal said, referring to his fellow tournament anglers.
  3. Don’t pass too close to another angler’s boat. “Stay away from the side where their rods are; pass on the other side if you can,” Crews said, adding that it’s important to give other boats with active anglers a wide berth when you pass, if there’s room. “Two hundred to 300 feet is ideal; 100 feet at a minimum. Pass at speed and make a minimal wake rather than slowing down and pulling a big wake. However, if there isn’t room to pass far enough away, come off plane well before you get near the other boat and idle past.”
  4. Never, ever cross lines with another angler. “The number one no-no is to cast across somebody else’s line. I’ve had it happen to me personally. I decided to leave the spot to him. I figured, if it’s important enough for him to do that, he can have it,” Neal said.

Use common courtesy, and there should be enough space for everyone to fish in harmony. When in doubt, err on the side of being as respectful as possible.

“Most anglers are super cool, and as long as you can communicate with them, you can make it work,” Crews concluded.

Christmas Memories of Times Forever Gone

 Christmas is a bittersweet time for me.  All the good and not so good memories come flooding back and I know those days and times are gone from my life forever.  Memories are all that are left.

    Good ones involve getting up Christmas morning to the joy of toys and unexpected gifts.  I guess my brother and I were a bit greedy, we hung one of mama’s old stockings on the mantle rather than a big sock.

But they were always filled with everything from oranges, bananas and pecans to rolls of caps, boxes of sparklers, bags of candy, boxes of .22 bullets and many other necessities of life.  I think Santa picked up the pecans from our yard and the oranges from the big bag we always brought back from our week before Christmas visit to grandma in Ocala.

    There were the gifts Santa left, which included one big gift and many smaller ones each year.  Big things I remember best are the high-power BB/pellet gun I got when I was 10, the strongest on the market at the time.  It would fire a pellet with the same velocity as a .22 short. And the Remington semiautomatic .22 I got when I was 12, the real thing. 

One year I got a set of Duckback briar britches and coat, a great need when quail and rabbit hunting.  Another is the stand that had metal ducks that revolved, and a gun that shot rubber suction darts at it.

    Smaller gifts included the usual underwear and socks, but even more appreciated were the insulated hunting versions of them.  Boxes of .410 shells, hunting knives, mess kits, hunting caps, hand warmers, fishing lures and other outdoor stuff topped the list.

    One memory brings back sad regret.  When I was about 12 I wanted a new bicycle, as did my brother.  But those were very lean years.  Daddy was the principal and shop teacher at Dearing Elementary School and one afternoon I walked into the shop while waiting on him to go home.

    Hanging from wires were two old bicycles that had been carefully disassembled, sanded and painted.  Daddy had got some junked bikes and repaired them to almost new status.  I got a sinking feeling when I saw them, I knew that would be my present, not a new one.

    I am afraid daddy saw the disappointment in my eyes Christmas morning, and it no doubt broke his heart.  He did the best he could, sacrificing things he wanted to do more for us, and working to make us something he could not afford, even thought he worked all day at school then went home to run our farm.

    I loved that bike and rode it for years.  I would give anything to be able to go back and thank him for it and tell him how much that memory means to me.

    A happier memory is when I was about 8 or 9 years old.  I knew about Santa but my younger brother still believed, although he was starting to question it.

    Our old house had a bathroom in the back off my grandmother’s apartment that we seldom used after she moved out.  For some reason I went to the bathroom a couple days before Christmas and heard birds chirping. When I pulled back the shower curtain a bird cage with two parakeets was hidden back there.

    Christmas Eve Billy and I went to bed but could not sleep. He kept asking me about Santa. It told him let’s make a wish for something no one but Santa would know and see if it comes true.  Let’s wish for parakeets! 

    The next morning he was excited and amazed to see the birds in our gifts.  My parents almost messed it up, saying the birds were from them, not Santa.  I convinced my brother since Santa knew they were giving us birds he didn’t need to. He believed another year!

    I do not ever remember getting daddy anything, but when I got old enough, I always had to find a bag of chocolate crème drops for mama. She loved them and chocolate covered cherries so I tried to make sure she had some.  That is really the only kind of bought sweets she ever ate, all the rest were homemade.

    One very sad gift memory involves a neighbor. Lynn was about two years younger than me and a tomboy so she liked the same kinds of things I liked. My family went to visit for dinner a few days after Christmas.

    Lynn had gotten a stand-up punching toy, about five feet tall shaped like snowman with a heavy weight bottom so hit bobbed back up when you hit it.  I must have been nine or ten, and we were warned to keep the toy away from the floor furnace vent, it was very hot.

    Stupid me drug the punching toy across the vent and the heat melted the plastic with a loud pop. Of course Lynn started crying. That pretty much ended the visit. I felt terrible but could do nothing.  I wonder if daddy bought her another one, if he did I never knew.

    As an adult presents really don’t mean much anymore.  I tend to buy whatever I want when I want it, so it is hard to buy something for me.  Gone is the joy and wonderment of Christmas morning.

    If you have kids, make this as truly a wonderous time of the year as long as possible.

Free Fishing Days in Georgia

NATIONAL FISHING AND BOATING WEEK BEGINS JUNE 5: Two Free Fishing Days Mark the Occasion

SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (May 21, 2021) – You probably don’t “need” a reason to go fishing and boating…but when we tell you it is National Fishing and Boating Week (NFBW), doesn’t that provide one more excuse to get outdoors? Celebrate NFBW from June 5-13, 2021, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD). 

“Boating and fishing are great activities that you can enjoy with your family and friends and that provide many benefits,” said Scott Robinson, Chief of the WRD Fisheries Management Section. “Benefits include connecting with family members, providing an opportunity for stress relief, and actively supporting conservation efforts with the purchase of a fishing license, equipment and boating fuel.”

National Fishing and Boating Week began in 1979 and was created to recognize the tradition of fishing, to broaden the spirit of togetherness and to share the values and knowledge of today’s anglers with tomorrow’s anglers. 

How to Celebrate: FREE FISHING DAYS: In the spirit of introducing new family members or friends to the sport of angling, Georgia offers two FREE fishing days – Sat., June 5 and Sat., June 12, 2021 – during this special week.  On these days, Georgia residents do not need a fishing license, trout license or Lands Pass (WMAs/PFAs) to fish.

Where to Celebrate: There are so many great places to fish in Georgia, from trout streams in North Georgia, to large reservoirs, to lazy rivers in the south part of the state. You can always start at one of the 11 Public Fishing Areas (https://georgiawildlife.com/allpfas) or at one of many Georgia State Parks (https://gastateparks.org/) that offer fishing opportunities for family and friends. There also will be multiple Kids Fishing Events on these days (https://license.gooutdoorsgeorgia.com/Event/Calendar.aspx).

According to the National Fishing and Boating Week website, one of the main reasons people don’t go fishing or boating is because no one has invited them.  YOU can help change this! Make it a mission during National Fishing and Boating Week, or the next time you go fishing, to take someone new: a child, a relative or a friend.  

For more information on National Fishing and Boating Week and all it has to offer, including free fishing days, nearest kids fishing event or places to fish, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/nfbw . 

Reflections on the Passing of Ron Lindner

By Ken Duke
Editor, Fishing Tackle Retailer
from The Fishing WireLegendary angler, educator, writer, publisher and entrepreneur Ron Lindner died November 30. He was 86 years old.

Born in Chicago in 1934, Ron and his brother Al built a fishing empire by educating others about our sport. He was a pioneer and leaves a void with his passing.

I did not know Ron Lindner well, but I can tell you that he was an imposing figure in our industry. Larger than life, he seemed to burst at the seams with energy and ideas. On those occasions I spoke with Ron he was always excited about something — a new program, a new story, a new something that was going to be better and bigger and more effective than anything that had come before.

I admired his enthusiasm and tenacity, his unyielding dedication to the sport. Most of our conversations were more or less one-way. He talked, he expounded, he explained. I tried to keep up. Sometimes you just have to let that kind of passion carry you away.

I have admired the Lindners since the 1970s when I began to get serious about my fishing as a teen. What they were doing with In-Fisherman really fascinated me. Thinking about it now, it was the Lindners and Ray Scott who set me on the path that became my career.

It was — obviously — a different time. Things were changing fast in the fishing world. In fact, I think changes were coming faster then that at any other time in our sport’s history. The “me and Joe” stories that dominated the Big Three for time immemorial were being replaced by practical how-to and scientific content in In-Fisherman and Fishing Facts and by species-specific publications like Bassmaster Magazine. The fishing world would never be the same, and Ron Lindner was one of the people leading the way.

I still have almost every issue of In-Fisherman (I’m missing some of the early “Study Reports”) and look back at them often. They brought science and education to the fore like nothing else. Al was the editor and Ron was the publisher, but both were splashed all over the magazines and then the television shows. Both were bright, exuberant and full of helpful advice. I just had to cut through those Chicago accents so that I could “maximize my potential to put fish in the boat.”I bought all their books, too — well, all the bass books anyway. I was a Southern kid, and though I may have dreamed of catching a musky, it didn’t seem likely in the canals of Miami or farm ponds of South Carolina.

Largemouth Bass SecretsLargemouth Bass in the 1990sThe In-Fisherman Secret System and more have places of honor on my bookshelf. They’re still among the best titles ever published on the sport. They took fishing to a new level and showed us that there were skills to learn, habits to study, patterns to follow. It was not all about luck or the Farmer’s Almanac.

As I reflect about Ron Lindner, I realize there’s almost nothing he didn’t do in the sportfishing industry. He was a guide, a publisher, a designer of gear, a television and video personality, a writer, a business person, a speaker and spokesperson and much, much more.

But I will always think of him as an educator and as an ambassador for our sport and our lifestyle. He inspired me and still does. I am very fortunate to have known him, if only a little.

As I get older and lose more and more friends in the fishing world, I try to focus on what they left behind rather than dwell on their passing. To do otherwise is just too sad. Too negative.

Ron Lindner’s passing certainly leaves a void, but it should also leave us inspired to try to do as much for fishing as this giant.

See a video of Ron’s life here: https://youtu.be/5b-3RfaQ24I

I Love Water – and Clarks Hill Is My Heaven

I have always loved water. From Dearing Branch, where I could jump across most sections, to 72,000-acre Clarks Hill, everything from branches, ponds, rivers and lakes have drawn me. 

    Clarks Hill was my “heaven on earth,” from the earliest camping trip there with the RA church group to my many fishing trips there as an adult. I fished my first tournament there in April, 1974 and the Sportsman Club has been back every year since then, including this year.  When I found out the dam was started in 1950, my birthyear, I just knew it was built just for me!

    The RAs camped a couple of times a year at “The Cliffs,” a ditch that ran back a couple hundred feet from the lake.  The edges were ten feet above the water, and we could never touch bottom when swimming in it. After I got a depthfinder I found out it was about 18 feet deep.

    We would pitch our tents on the bank along the ditch, build fires and cook our meals. After dark we would put out our lines for catfish.  I will never forget the time I took a quart jar of chicken livers and gizzards and left it out in the sun.  I was sure the smell that almost made me sick would attract catfish, but apparently, they though it was as awful as I did.

    We boys would stay up as late as we could, but invariably we would go to sleep, only to awake to the adults still talking quietly by the fire, watching their rods.  And after waking it was time to fry bacon, scramble eggs and toast bread on the open fire.

    Daddy joined Raysville Boat Club when I was 16.  Five years earlier, Mr. Hugh took me water skiing for the first time and I fell in love with it.  About three years later Harold’s family bought a ski boat and I got to drive it. I will never forget the feeling freedom that went over me that day.

    When daddy joined the boat club, he also bought a 17-foot Larson with a 120 HP Mercruiser outdrive motor.  It was a great ski boat and I spend untold hours both driving it pulling skiers and behind it skiing. I got pretty good slaloming and even skiing on trick skis and foot skis. But as hard as I tried, I never could ski barefoot.

    We also fished from that boat for bass, crappie, catfish and bream.  Daddy and I ran baskets for a few years and kept our freezer full of fish. Then we discovered spring crappie fishing and I spent hundreds of hours in that boat with mama and daddy, pulling in fish after fish and filling out limits.

    Linda and I met on a blind date at a fraternity party and, although we didn’t really hit it off, I invited her to go to the lake with me and go skiing. She turned me down. But a few weeks later we happened to have dinner together and really clicked. I again asked her to go skiing and she accepted.

    We did ski that weekend, but we also fished some.  I think that is what convinced me she was the right one. It has worked out pretty good, our 49 anniversary is this month!

    At the end of our first year of marriage we spent the month of August at the trailer at the boat club.  I would get up early and go out in the Larson, trying to cast for bass but mostly trolling. I would come in for lunch, stay in the cool trailer until late afternoon then Linda would go out with me in the more comfortable afternoon.

    One day at lunch when my parents joined us, I said I wanted to catch a 12-pound bass to have mounted. Daddy kinda laughed and said if I did he would have it mounted for me.  Linda said how about her, and daddy said if you catch an eight pounder I will have it mounted.

I found a long, shallow point where I caught a three-pound bass on a Hellbender one morning, one of the only deep diving “plugs” back then.  We had no depthfinder but I could tell how the point came up shallow and then dropped off by the action of the plug bumping bottom.

That afternoon Linda went out with me. I was trolling a chrome Hellbender and Linda a blue one.  We went over the point and Linda’s rod bowed up. At first I thought she was hung, then a huge bass jumped.  It jumped three more times before she landed it.

On my hand-held scales it weighed eight pounds, ten ounces and we confirmed that at the marina!  When daddy saw it I am not sure who beamed more, Linda, him or me.  And daddy had it mounted, I am looking at it right now, hanging on the wall with that blue Hellbender in its mouth.

I still have not caught that 12 pounder!

I have so many more memories from Clarks Hill they almost overwhelm me when reminiscing.   

July 4th At Clarks Hill

 July 4th always revolved around Clarks Hill, skiing, fishing and eating with family and friends.  Daddy joined Raysville Boat Club in 1966 when I was 16, so most things started and ended there much of my young life.   

One year in the 1990s Linda and I went over to spend a few days there with mama and daddy, and of course, I want to fish. But the lake was a madhouse during the day.  Clarks Hill is huge, 72,000 acres of water, so there should be room for everyone, but everywhere I went the water was churned by wake boats, skiers, and skidoos.   

We went down to Rousseau Creek all the way to the back of it. It got narrower but was still about 100 yards wide, but the water was only two to three feet deep.  Not a good place to ski! After getting far enough back to be in water four feet deep or less, one skidoo came whining in, turned and went back out. 

After that we did not see another boat from 11:00 AM until 3:00 PM when we headed back to the boat club.  It was so secluded we could do anything we wanted! But that’s another story!

I cast a four-inch curly tail worm on a one-sixteenths ounce Slider Head on a spinning outfit and six-pound line and caught nine keeper bass and several shorter than 12 inches.  I would cast past a stump, glide it just over the top of it, and watch the bass rush out and grab it. The water was so clear I could see every move the bass made from the strike to the boat.

When we went in, after getting back to deeper water, we had to slam through waves the whole six miles back to the boat club. A usual five-minute trip took 40!

Another trip was a bit scary.   Harold was my best friend and his family always had a big reunion at Winfield Picnic area in the mouth of Rousseau Creek. I often went to join them, taking our 17-foot Larson ski boat with a 120 HP MerCruiser motor.  It was a big, heavy boat that would run about 30 MPH on a good day, but was an amazing ski boat, the best on the water back then. 

More than once I pulled six people on skis at one time behind.  It had a lot of torque and the power to do that. I spend many happy hours behind it on a ski and got pretty good. The boat club was 15 minutes from Thomson High School and the boat stayed in the water under a boat shed, ready to get in and go skiing any time.

A group of us would often plan to head to the lake to ski after school during warm weather.  I think I taught about half my class to ski. In my annual, my senior predictions said I would grow up to be the Presidential Ski Advisor! 

Part of that was teaching so many to ski, the other part was most of my classmates figured I was too lazy to make much of myself!

One July 4th I rode down to Winfield and met Harold and his family about 9:00 AM.  There were probably 40 people there, about a dozen teenagers like me.  For three hours we would put six folks in the boat and go ski.

After a huge lunch we went back out just in time for a big thunderstorm with pouring rain to hit. We quickly put up the top and rode out the storm.  The boat had a top that came back over the cockpit and side and back flaps that enclosed the whole boat. Not a drop of rain got in, but it was hot in there. I think that was about the only time we put it up the whole time we had that boat.

After the storm, we skied until about 5:00 PM then I headed back to the boat club by myself.  Back then a trip to Winfield was an experience, taking about 30 minutes at full speed in the Larson, in mostly unknown waters.

When I came out of Rousseau Creek and hit the main lake, another thunderstorm hit.  I kept the boat at an idle, the waves were so big I would go down in a trough and lose sight of land. 

More scary, I would see stumps in those troughs, the lake is full of them, especially on the old river channel in the deepest water. They had been topped out about five feet below full pool, so the waves exposed them.

It took me more than three hours to get back and it was almost dark.  Now I can make that run in my bass boat in five minutes but would not want to try with waves like those that day.

Have a wonderful July 4th, eat good food, spend time with family, make good memories, but never forget why we celebrate starting out great nation, the best one on earth.