In the mid-'60s, I fished from the bank, or a small aluminum johnboat, mostly small ponds and lakes close to home. I fished with minnows some when I was a kid.When I was about 12, in the late '40s, my dad gave me an old solid steel Wave King rod, a Pflueger Akron reel, a 1-pound spool of the old black braided line, and a big hex nut for a casting weight. He told me to go out in the backyard and learn to cast. He said by the time I used up that spool of line, I should be able to use the reel. I remember I did use up most of the line before I learned, but it's like riding a bike: Once you learn, it stays with you.I had a neighbor fishing buddy, whose cousin was a guide on Ross Barnett Reservoir (Miss.). He told us about BASS and I joined. I think his name was Oliver Leonard. When the lifetime membership was offered, my kids gave me one. I still enjoy the magazine, but it's not like it was in the early years. I may be in the minority, but to someone like me, who's trying to get by on Social Security, all the articles on the tournaments, megabuck bass boats and tackle and all that are simply a world out of reach.I think the article Don Wirth did in the May/June 1986 issue, "Return to Montgomery Lake" was the best article ever in your magazine. I really enjoy "Ask Uncle Homer," What's It Worth?" and all the things you've done over the years on the world record controversies. I also like the articles on the fishing methods, the different ways to rig a worm, knots, etc. They have been really helpful.I've had several highlights in bass fishing over the years.On Feb. 17, 1968, I caught the biggest largemouth in the state of Mississippi. It weighed 11 pounds, 8 ounces. I also held the world record for bowfin, 14 pounds, for about three months in 1970.
Another highlight was having my cartoon published in the Winter 1970 issue of Bassmaster. And my name appeared in one of the early ads for the magazine, along with Jack Nicklaus and Milburn Stone. I always wondered if people were asking, 'who is John T. Carr?'"I still love to bass fish, but what I do now is take one of my old Pflueger steel rods (I have three), put on one of my old Pflueger reels (I have seven Akrons, Supremes and Summits; I love the Summit, mainly because of the engraving) spool it with the old 20-pound camouflage line, stick two or three baits in my cap (Lucky 13 or Heddon Basser) stick my 50-year-old Garcia fishing pliers along with my 60-year-old rope stringer in my pocket, and go walk the banks of my favorite 8-acre lake. I like to see if a 71-year-old man can still catch fish with 70-year-old tackle. The answer is "yes." and it's still the same thrill it was years ago.
(John T. Carr, 71, lives in Tupelo, Miss. He's a retired draftsman and product engineer. He was a co-founder of the Tupelo Bass Club, one of the first clubs to become affiliated with BASS.)