The following was reprinted with permission from Honey Hole Magazine, Inc.
|December 15, 1999
Dear Honey Hole,
I am a Texan in the truest sense and have an ego almost as big as my state. But the hoopla and perceived expense surrounding bass fishing were strong enough to intimidate even me.
For a while, I honestly felt that I could not participate in the sport if I didn't spend many thousands of dollars. I was so convinced that I simply gave up on the idea of fishing for bass, but I was still going to take my young son fishing and enjoy it.
I was a bass fisherman "wanna-be" on a very tight budget and had a child with whom I intended to share quality time. One thing about having limited funds is that no matter how attractive or necessary, advertisers make a product seem the money is simply not there to buy it.
My young son David and I spent the next year or so fishing from the bank at local creeks, ponds, lakes, and rivers. Our equipment was minimal, but we learned a lot, caught a lot of bass, and had a whole bunch of fun together.
Eventually, I came across an old flat-bottomed boat and a trolling motor that opened up a whole new world to us. We had become good at fishing up the bank. Now we could move out several yards from shore and fish down the bank.
We could float down the river and reach areas inaccessible from the shore. The fun, quality time, and experience just kept growing.
Another year or so passed, and, with careful shopping at flea markets, garage sales, etc., we accumulated a viable arsenal of good, quality bass fishing tackle. We grew from hoping to catch bass to expecting to catch bass. We learned a great deal about bass fishing and each other.
One day we were driving home when David yelled, "STOP!" There it was. Sitting back off the road with a FOR SALE sign on it was an old bass boat - big engine and all. After much dickering and a trip to a boat engine mechanic who gave it a clean bill of health, we had a fully rigged bass boat - sort of.
The engine was solid, and the hull was tight. Otherwise, it was a rebuild project. Wiring, hatch covers, carpet, paint, pumps, batteries, instruments, seats, etc., etc., etc. all had to be repaired, rebuilt, or replaced.
For more than six months, much of our fishing time had to give way to working on the boat. Even finished, the boat did not look, or act, brand new - but it was clean, nice looking, safe, reliable, functional, and affordable. Plus, we could now fish almost anywhere, in almost any weather, at any time, and do it with relative speed and comfort. Where I'm from, that's called "steppin' in high cotton!"
|...the happiness, pride, and self-esteem fishing have brought to my son are more than trophy enough for this man.
We fished local lakes and learned about depth finders, Carolina rigs, stump avoidance, spun props, and many other interesting boating and fishing topics. During the next year or so, we fished a few local open tournaments and even placed in a couple.
David asked to take the National Boater's Safety Course for his 13th birthday and received his first driver's license from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, thus relegating me forever to the boat's passenger seat.
We became known in local bass fishing circles, and I began receiving invitations to fish with and join local bass clubs. The problem was that I was invited, but not with my son. Like most people, my recreation time and money were limited, and what little I had was going to be spent with my family. So fishing was what my son and I did together. We learned to fish together. We worked on the boat together. I was only willing to participate in a bass fishing club if we could do that together.
Then a friend introduced me to the Central Texas Bass Anglers, a Honey Hole affiliated club with about 25 members who would consider allowing David to fish. The requirements were that he conducts himself as a young man (not a kid) and that I provide a notarized liability waiver. It seemed fair to me, so we joined. It is a draw club, and we have one boat. One month I'm the boater, the next month, David is the boater.
That was a little more than a year ago while David was still just 13. This year, at 14, my son qualified for and represented our club in the Honey Hole BCA Top Six Championship at Lake Livingston.
As for me, the happiness, pride, and self-esteem fishing have brought to my son is more than trophy enough for this man.
What am I trying to say here? Go fishing - not broke. Ease into the sport according to your own pace and pocketbook. Learn from any source you trust, but when it comes to money, remember a 20-year-old young man caught the World Record black bass, with a total equipment and tackle investment of less than $5.00, including the boat!
Share the experience with friends and family. The rewards are countless, and the cost? Well, a sunset on the water, seeing nature without fences, growing closer to your child or a friend, and the thrill of a big old bass ripping line - those rewards and so many more like them - they are all free.
David O'Neal's Dad (step)
The back of the photo of David had a note that said it was taken in May of 1998. "He's grown a lot since, but I like this picture," wrote Wayne. I like it, too.
It's nice to know that with determination and carefully laid plans people can achieve what has only been previously dreamed of. Put your young one's dreams to work. The respect and closeness gained are worth every effort and every dime spent. If they want to compete, try starting them in a club or events like our Family Fishing Tournaments. Like Wayne, you could be the real winner.
Editor of Honey Hole Magazine