Pardon me for continuing to tell stories about “days gone by.” But if you will allow me to tell one more quickly, I’ll leave it alone for a while.
Back in the mid-1960s, I was working on some television material on Lake Greeson, which is about 100 miles from my home in Little Rock, Ark.
As I remember, it was a chilly winter day on the lake, and as I eased down the bank I came across the only other boat there that day. Again, as I remember, it was a 14-foot, V-bottom, metal boat with two anglers aboard. Both anglers looked to be in their early 20s to me. As a matter of fact, the young men looked exactly alike.
Fate is a funny thing, isn’t it? I could have gone to 100 different lakes that morning ... but I went to Greeson.
I could have fished 100 different banks on Greeson that day … but I chose that particular one where I met a set of twins who were just out of college. Those twins were Billy and Bobby Murray.
We bonded that morning, and Billy ended up traveling with me for the next 10 years. As a matter of fact, we were fishing somewhere in Tennessee when we got word that Bobby had won a B.A.S.S. tournament.
Not just any tournament, mind you, but the Bassmaster Classic … and not just any Bassmaster Classic, but the first Bassmaster Classic.
Yes, I’m talking about that Bobby Murray.
If I ever make anything of myself, I may owe it to Arkansas’ Lake Greeson and those incredible twins.
I thought about that day on Lake Greeson last week when I was fishing in the Legends event near Montgomery, Ala.
The Legends event was a one-day, five-hour tournament between four two-man teams; it was held in conjunction with Toyota Trucks All-Star Week.
The lake we fished was 100 acres across – the perfect size to be completely out of each others’ way but still be in sight of every boat.
At least seven of the legends participating had incredible B.A.S.S. credentials. I don’t know how that eighth guy slipped in. But anyway, I was thinking about the Bobby Murray story I just told you at one point during the day.
My partner Bill Dance and I spent more time trash talking the other competition than we did bass fishing. However, at some point there was a lull and I spotted a boat in the back of a pocket and it was Guido Hibdon and Bobby Murray. Yes, that Bobby Murray. And you talk about two legends: Guido and Murray could arguably fish one-on-one against any bass fisherman in the world still today.
Then I flashed back to Lake Greeson and wondered where I would be had I not ran into Bobby and Billy Murray that cold day 50 years ago. Now, that’s being in the right place at the right time. Fishing just above Guido and Bobby in another pocket was Rick Clunn and Tommy Martin. There were more Classic titles in that boat than I can imagine but this was my first thought: We crowned our first Mercury College B.A.S.S. Champion a couple of weeks ago, and the angler was Andrew Upshaw from Hemphill, Texas. Tommy Martin also calls Hemphill home, and the first thing Andrew, who represented Stephen F. Austin University, said when he won his title was, “I owe this all to Tommy Martin, who taught me everything I know about bass fishing.” Come to find out, Tommy had been working with this young man for years; Andrew’s College B.A.S.S. Championship was the result.
Now, here’s my point for bringing up this Tommy Martin story. These legendary bass fishermen are extremely talented at catching fish, but even more impressive is how much they want to share their knowledge.
Rick Clunn, Ken Cook, Guido Hibdon, Guy Eaker, Bill Dance, Bobby Murray – do you realize how many bass fishermen this group of legends has inspired and taught? As a matter of fact, this is a small example of top flight fishermen who have gone overboard to teach the world how to bass fish. Do you know another sport where the cream of the crop will talk to you personally about how to improve your game? Here’s something else: No other sport has as many techniques or as many secrets as bass fishing does. Yet, if you catch them on the side, Clunn, Dance, KVD or Skeet will tell you everything you need to know.
Boy, I’m all over the place today – from bass fishing brothers to a college champion who learned from a Classic champion.
Here’s what I’ll leave you with, though:
We must make more out of the Legend event. The fans, the kids, and even the Elite anglers on site for Toyota Trucks All-Star Week were all thrilled to meet this small group of legendary bass fishermen.
We need to grow the group and give other parts of the country the opportunity to meet them.