2011 Bass Pro Shops Northern Open #1 James River - Richmond, VA, Jul 7 - 9, 2011

History and bass on the James River

I ended last week’s post by asking if we (the Hartley family) were compatible after so many years of living as adults. I’m happy to report we are — in all respects. Everyone had a great time eating, playing games, talking and just hanging out. I’m sure we’ll do it again. I hope so, anyway.

That was last week, though. This week I’m on the James River working as a professional bass angler. It’s quite an experience. Jamestown, the first permanent English colonial settlement in North America, was formed near the mouth of the river in 1607. The historical significance of this place is something a fellow can’t ignore.

You can almost feel the presence of those early settlers as you motor up and down ancient creeks looking for keepers. I found myself wondering if one of those men or women — someone with a strong British accent and a pugnacious attitude — fished “my” spot 400 years ago. And if he or she did, did they do any good?

Were they looking for bass, or just anything they could cook and eat? I’m guessing dinner. Survival was the motivating force behind their lives. I’m sure they enjoyed some recreation, but I doubt they caught a perfectly editable fish just so they could hold it up, admire it and then turn it lose so someone else could try to catch it. Life was too hard in those days.

We owe our country to those early settlers and the men and women who followed them. If it wasn’t for them and their ways, we wouldn’t be doing what we are today. I wouldn’t be a professional bass fisherman and you wouldn’t be reading about my adventures. We’d be trying to catch enough fish for dinner, much like they did. Survival wouldn’t be about making the cut. It would be about staying alive until tomorrow.

The Fourth of July was a sight around here, too. I’ve never seen so many pleasure boats celebrating the holiday. And the fireworks! What a beautiful display of color and patriotism they showed. I had tears of joy in my eyes as they were going up while I trailered my boat.

When you stop to think about it, the United States of America really is one heck of a concept. None of us should ever forget that, not for one minute.

Before I go I want to say a few words about the bass fishing. I’ve never fished the James before, but, based on what I’ve seen, I expect a lot of limits. The fish aren’t giants but they are plentiful, and they’ll bite if you fish the current and the tide correctly.

If I’m right, this could be one for the fans. The first Northern Open, and the resulting Classic slot, could come down to a matter of ounces on Saturday with the big bass going somewhere around 4 pounds.

I love this stuff!

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