Bass Angling Heroes and Why We Need Them

Bass Angling Heroes and Why We Need Them In the world of bass fishing, heroes play a vital role as ambassadors to our sport. Here's why.



Young or old, having heroes is a true blessing. In the world of bass fishing, heroes play a vital role as ambassadors to our sport. Looking back on my life and career, I recognize how truly blessed I am to have been inspired by some of the very best.

   It was my grandfather who first introduced me to the joy of fishing. My grandfather, dad, and uncles were my first fishing heroes, for which I will be forever grateful.

   But I was further blessed with many other fishing heroes; inspirational professional bass anglers like Roland Martin, Bill Dance, and Billy Westmoreland.  Their names filled the pages of early 'Bassmaster' magazines and the outdoor sections of newspapers.

   Raised in Maiden, N.C., I had some local heroes that hailed from my neck of the woods. Expert anglers like Blake Honeycutt and Mr. Buck Perry. Buck wrote several important books on structure fishing before most of us knew what structure fishing was. And Blake was a friend of Mr. Buck Perry.

   Blake Honeycutt was a highly successful professional fisherman who mastered the Buck Perry method of deep water structure fishing long before Hummingbird and other depth finders became common place. He used to live not far from where I grew up, and I'd see him at weigh-ins on Lake Wylie. As a result, I carefully watched, studied, and followed his every move, and Blake became one of my early heroes.

   Blake was a great ambassador for our sport, and positively influenced many people, including myself. In 1969 he set a new record on Alabama’s Lake Eufaula catching 34 bass with a combined weight of 138-06. The amazing photo of Blake and his giant stringer of bass made an everlasting impression upon me. It left me dreaming about how someday I would love to do something like that.

   Bobby Murray, whom I watched from a very young age, joined my list of bass angling heroes. In 1978, on Ross Barnett, he won the first Bassmaster Classic that I ever competed in. I will always admire and respect Bobby as a champion... and as a great guy.

   Bill Dance, Jerry McKinnis, Roland Martin, Jimmy Houston have not only been great ambassadors for the sport, but each of them paved the way for myself and others to make a living in terms of television and bass fishing. I owe my foothold in the business to these television pioneers. Each of these legends has my greatest respect, admiration, and gratitude.

   As I said earlier; young or old, having heroes is a true blessing. But as important as it is to have heroes, it is equally important to step up and become one. It is my belief that every angler has both the potential and opportunities to become a fishing hero.

   Wherever I go, I challenge every bass angler, regardless of their level of expertise, to be a great ambassador for the sport by simply taking a neighbor fishing. In my opinion, the simple act of sharing your angling knowledge and the joy of catching fish, makes you a bass fishing hero.

   It is a fact of life that our communities are filled with single parents; a lot of them are single moms who don't have a clue as to how to take their kids fishing. As an angler, you don't have to be a professional fisherman to take them fishing. And you don't have to have a long resume of tournament wins to share the joy of our sport.

   The fact is, there is nothing simpler than taking a kid fishing.

   Shakespeare and I put together a little fishing kit that I am proud to say is flawless. It contains a good rod and reel, filled with premium Trilene fishing line, the proper hooks, and Berkley Gulp. There are a lot of artificial baits available today, but I still have not found anything more effective for kids than Berkley Gulp. This winning combination of equipment and jar baits makes it easy for kids to catch fish. 

   Now all they need is a teacher and an opportunity to use them.  That's where you come in.

   Taking a kid fishing promises every angler an opportunity to positively impact the life of a young person, and the future of our sport. It is an unfortunate fact, that many of us forget how simple it is to take a young person fishing, and we don't always get around to reaching out.  But the missed opportunity to become a fishing hero is easy to remedy.

   In my life, I have noticed one very important thing; regardless of age, fishing touches people in a positive way. Whether I am fishing with healthy kids or children struggling with diseases, whether I am fishing with toddlers or the elderly - there is one inevitable outcome that always results from catching a fish; everyone smiles. I don't care if you are 2 or 102, when you catch a fish, it makes you smile. And that is pretty awesome.

   We all need heroes. They inspire, teach, and bless us in our lives. And when given the opportunity, it's equally important to become a hero; which is what every angler becomes when they put a smile on the face of a child or neighbor by taking them fishing.


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