"Oh, I am much better with a rod and reel than with a guitar."
A legion of alternative metal fans' jaws would have probably dropped farther than mine had they heard Aaron Lewis say that.
Nonetheless, mine dropped, too.
Lewis is the lead singer for the platinum-selling band Staind. The band has sold more than 12 million records worldwide, had four number one singles in three different radio formats, including the massive hits "It's Been Awhile" and "Right Here."
Still, Lewis feels more comfortable casting a bass plug or flinging a fly for trout than strumming the guitar.
"And hey, I'm a singer, you know. I'm not that good with a guitar. Really just learned to play it, so I would have something to accompany me," he chuckled.
He learned fishing because it was a way of life.
"My dad (Ted) is a fishing guide and he and my grandfather introduced me to it at a very young age in Vermont and Massachusetts, where I'm from. So, I held fishing tackle a long time before a guitar."
Admittedly, interviews about his passion for fishing aren't everyday, so the rock star understands why some might not know he enjoys it. (He also has a passion for bowhunting for white-tailed deer. At the time of this interview, Lewis had just returned from a trip to the big-buck area of Pike County, Ill.)
"Sure, when asked about it (outdoor interests) in interviews, I talk about it. But typically, I'm talking with people in the music industry, so that doesn't come up as much," he said.
But if you do get him talking about it, it doesn't take long to understand Lewis loves and knows it. He talks the talk, walks the walk. He is as comfortable talking anything outdoors — from fly rod weights on the flats to bucks and bass.
"What's my favorite tactic for bass? There are so many options, so many lures. It's endless, really. But mainly it depends on whether I'm going for big fish, or whether I want to catch a lot of 'em and put a whipping on whoever's in the boat with me," he laughed.
"I really like the drop shot, and, if I'm on the bass, I believe I can out-fish somebody that is not fishing it, probably five bass to their one. Of course, I like jigs, too. Or I'll fish crankbaits deep. You know how it is — you do what you need to do to get bites."
Lewis has even had some experience fishing bass tournaments, a few on the Connecticut River in western Massachusetts. He once finished second in a Bass Cat tourney fishing with a guide on the Lake of the Ozarks.
"Oh, I can be competitive when fishing and that's fun, but like most, when it comes down to it, what I really like about it is being out there — outdoors — to escape from the concrete and honking horns for a while."
Of course, in the entertainment world, often on a tour bus, on the famed long lonesome highway, Lewis admits finding time to get to the outdoors requires creative scheduling.
"I'm always interested in finding some water — somewhere close to get away and fish. But for the bigger trips, like my recent deer hunt to Illinois, I have to plan those well in advance."
At the time of the interview he was mere moments away from entering the venue where he and the band were slated to play.
"At home, there are three or four lakes I can get to in 15 minutes, and I have built a pond on my property with some well-fed largemouth. I have three daughters, ages 6 down to a year, and already the girls that are old enough to fish have caught a bass," he said.
And of course, like any true angler, Lewis knows the importance of records set as well as records sold.
"My biggest bass? It's 8 1/2 pounds," Lewis said. "And that's not a big bass in some regions of the country, true. But in Massachusetts, where I'm from, they seldom get any bigger!"