2005.12.07 Some are born to fish

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

WHAT DOES Al Fisher have in common with Terry Fisher, Sam Fisher, Frank Fisher and Robert Fisher? A last name, of course, but there’s more. It’s not geography. Al is from Arkansas, Terry is from Florida, Sam lives in Virginia, Frank hails from Tennessee and Robert is from Vermont.

Here’s a hint: It’s their favorite pastime. And here’s the answer: They’re all professional bass fishermen.

The word “professional” probably needs an asterisk. It all depends on how you define it.

1. Engaging in an activity as a source of livelihood.

That’s certainly not the case for Robert up there in Essex Junction, Vermont. He hasn’t earned a dime as a bass pro, although it might be interesting to know how much he’s spent in this pursuit. 2005 was his first season of competition, so let’s give him a chance.

2. Performed by a person receiving pay.

Sam Fisher has earned $300 in three years. That probably helped cover fuel expenses hauling his boat from lake to lake.

Frank has a more promising career ahead of him. This was his first year and he raked in $726. His wife probably isn’t convinced yet. His earnings represent 15 days of fishing in eight events, although he did get one for the wall: a bass weighing six pounds, seven ounces. I don’t really know if it’s on the wall. The bass tour people say that 99 percent of the catches are successfully released back into the water, suffering from little more than humiliation and an extremely sore mouth.

3. Having or showing great skill.

Terry Fisher can make a statement here. He claims a one-day best catch of 21 pounds, eight ounces. He’s averaged only $350 a year in five seasons, but his one-day record certainly comes out ahead of Al.

This final member of these Fisher boys is the guy you would call a bass pro, or to look at it another way, he’s one of those guys who inspire so many other suckers to think that they can make a living off a mustard-colored Little Pig crankbait tied to an eight-pound line.

Al has been around since 1998. His one-day best catch is only 17-2 and his Big Fish is only 4-11, but he’s won $27,697. That’s almost $4,000 a year. He’s got his gas and his food covered, with enough left over to buy a new boat.

I’m making it sound as if these guys are in it for the money, but of course that isn’t true. That’s just an occasional bonus for the lucky few. Everybody is just out doing what they love to do.

THEY’RE ALSO out there because they have to be. If your name is Fisher, you have to fish. The same goes if your name is Chad Reel or Michael Stringer or Kelly Hook or Avery Poles. The same if your name is Blake Jumper or Fred Guppy or David Scales. It’s especially true if your name is Joe Bass, even if you’ve never earned a cent off your black and blue Strike King jig.

I would hope you have better uses of precious brain matter than to recall my fascination with bass pro names. I’ve mentioned it before, I know.

Mike Rudder, Danny Helm, Mark Hull, David Craft, John Skipper, Chris Keel, Mike Keel, Johnathon Keel.

Tony Waters, James Marsh, Jr. Brooks, John Shore.

Dan Fry, Terrance Gaar, Morris Herring, David Pike.

Charlie Crisp? Maybe, but certainly Donald Odor.

They’re just perfect. It’s as if there were newspaper people named David Headline or Jeff Editorial. It’s a really special crowd out in those bass boats.

I love the names and I love the way they talk when they win.

“I feel great. I’ve never been tingling so hard in my life,” Trevor Janscasz said as he walked away with a $25,000 check.

“My grass pattern died earlier in the week and I switched to flipping docks for the final round.” Now that was a true professional speaking. Sam Newby is no fishy name, but he won $140,000 one day last month, pushing his career bass money past half a million.

How about this: “This is the most wonderful feeling any person could have. It’s like winning the Super Bowl.” That was a $62,500 statement, and now you know why people have hopes of making the big time on the lake.

That’s why James Hailstones of Cincinnati is in there and Ronald Morency of Attica, Ohio.

But where does North Carolina angler Flash Butts fit in? I suppose he serves a purpose like last May when he led an event for a day and the headline read “Kicking Butts.”

   - Dec. 7, 2005 
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