Years ago I used to enjoy reading Reader's Digest articles about the most unforgettable characters that people had ever met. We have all known someone that would fit this category. But how many can say that person is their mother?
Over five decades of guiding bass fishermen, I have met and seen every type of character known to man, but none stand out more than an 89-year-old woman - my mother. She grew up on a private lake, Lake Pauline, which was named after her sister. Pauline was a long distance swimmer and at an early age she was touted to be the first female to swim the English Channel. Mom was not into swimming, so she spent most of her childhood fishing. Her dad was quite a fisherman in his own right, and years later was a tackle manufacturer.
Fishing was a heritage and I was fortunate enough to be born into it. Some of my earliest memories are of bass fishing trips with Mom and Dad. We all developed quite a rivalry about who was the best, and little did I know that years later I would make fishing my career.
Dad fished all over the country for bass long before there was any type of organized bass fishing and was, at that time, the best I had ever seen. I know I made him proud when I chose this profession as my career. Even though, to this day I am not worthy enough to tote his tackle. Now years later I know that Dad was good, but Mom has taken over the title of the very best.
How many 89-year-old women still bass fish? None that I know. She still is able to get into the boat with no help, and the only thing that runs her off the water is the heat, but that affects us all. She will cast a worm all day and has a touch when fishing it that is unequaled. Her hookset, though not as strong as in year's past, is still good enough to boat an eight-pound fish.
I could be catching bass on every cast with a topwater lure, yet she will still use a worm. Every year she comes to Choke and I have never seen anyone so excited about "one more trip." Each year she says that it will be her last, but she is still going strong and I look forward to next year when my favorite fishing partner returns for "one more trip."
She will still travel all over the state, driving by herself to Tyler from Bellville, to visit her 90-year-old sister Pauline. Only a couple of years ago did both of them take, and pass, the concealed handgun class. I know of no other women, or men for that matter, at that age who have done that.
In her 80's she was having trouble with her shoulder, so after doctors tried to discourage her from surgery, she had rotator cuff surgery - just so she could continue to fish. Young athletes go through this, not women in their 80's. Even Nolan Ryan could not believe this. Not only going through the operation, but the painful rehabilitation it took to build her shoulder back up once again. All done just so she could it took to build her shoulder back up once again. All done just so she could continue to pursue her passion for bass fishing.
Not only is she a world-class angler, she was also a champion golfer having been club champion many times at her home course. My brother and I both were golfers, having played college golf and we told Mother that the day she ever beat us we would sell our clubs. Well she did just that while in her 70's having shot a 37 to beat both of us and afterwards asking us - with a smile on her face, "When is the garage sale for the clubs?"
Over the past eight or 10 years she always catches more, and bigger bass than my brother or me. But I do not intend to have a garage sale for my tackle. I know better!
This year she came and fished for four days trying to catch a Honey Hole cover shot. I told her we could go to a private lake where I knew she could catch a trophy bass, but she said no, she wanted to catch it out of Choke Canyon. And, as always, she out shone my brother and I both. Of course I say I am the guide and she is supposed to catch all the fish, but believe me, I'm trying my best to beat her butt.
Bass 'N Gals, you're lucky she was too old to fish your pro circuit because she would have set records that would never be broken. But every sport needs a dominant player. How many of them will be 89 years old? Probably only one I know of ... my most unforgettable character, my mother.