At 82 years old (but you'd never know it), Dick Garlock still fishes tournaments, still yanks up his trolling motor and still can whip you in a fight...on the water. He's won more tournaments on and around the St. Lawrence River than he can remember and is a certified legend there.
But he's much more than that.
In everything, there are pioneers. In bass fishing, we have names like Roland Martin, Ray Scott, Al and Ron Lindner, Tom Mann – a pretty long list of names just about everyone who's ever used a baitcaster knows. But have you heard of Dick?
An article won't do any pioneer justice, but here are a few stories about him that should give you a good idea of Dick's contribution to our sport.
How do you get into bass fishing when there's no bass fishing yet? For Dick, the answer is spinnerbaits.
"The first time I heard about these [bass] tournaments, I was like, 'Boy, what crazy thing will people do next?' They were coming out with bass boats, coming back and weighing in fish– it was crazy. I'd never heard such a thing.
"Then a fellow named Bill Rutherford introduced me to a spinnerbait," he said. "Up until then, we'd always used live bait. One day my father and I were fishing a place called Grassy Island, and I said to him, 'I'm going to throw this.' He thought I was crazy – it was a crazy-looking thing – but I was catching one fish after another.
"People [on the river] were coming up to us and saying, 'What is that thing? What is that thing?' It was a spinnerbait – that was in the '70s."
One more "thing" is the first tournament he fished, on Black Lake [N.Y., by the St. Lawrence], he won.
But in his second tournament he got a tip from a friend, convinced his boater to go that spot (requiring two lockages); they caught nothing, and when his boater finally hooked a fish at a spot on the way back to the ramp, Dick managed to knock it off with the net!
The next phase of Dick's route to bass fishing legend status came when he ran into a killer stick named Roland Martin. Dick was at a B.A.S.S. Nation tournament in Missouri, and he got to talking with Roland about that lake and the St. Lawrence River – because the Bassmaster Classic was headed there. They agreed to trade info.
"He helped me in that tournament, and I didn't do any good really," Dick said. But Roland finished second at that 1980 Classic, his best Classic finish 'til that time and still his best Classic finish ever.