The first thing I should tell you about Mike Long is that he would balk at the title of this story. He wouldn't be comfortable being called a "big bass guru." Instead he'd tell you, "I'm just a fisherman — like you — and I've had some success catching big bass because I've dedicated myself to that for a lot of years."
He's right, of course, but too modest. Long has a résumé for catching giant largemouth bass that dwarfs all others on record and would make the average angler drool with envy. He keeps track of his accomplishments, but he no longer keeps score. The challenges he faces on the water come from within, not from the record books or from a rivalry with other anglers.
But Long wasn't always like this. There was a time not so many years ago when keeping score and being recognized as the best mattered very deeply to him. He guarded his angling methods like a baseball catcher guards his signs to the pitcher. That's changed, and so have his goals.
"I'm not trying to catch the world record bass anymore," he says. "It's time to give back. I get as much pleasure now out of teaching other people what I've learned and watching them catch big fish as I do out of catching them myself. Giving back is fun!"
For Long, it's been a maturation process. As he's gotten older — now 47 — he's come to realize that his days as a trophy chaser are numbered, and he wants his legacy to be something more than that of a man who caught a lot of big fish. He wants to teach others how to catch the giants that have made him famous and for them to get more out of the sport that has meant so much to him.
Part of that effort will take place here on Bassmaster.com. Another part is already happening on Long's website, where videos, stories and photo galleries are already educating anglers hoping to improve their fishing or wanting to see images of giant bass in their natural surroundings responding to prey, lures and the daily demands of nature.
Long's first effort on Bassmaster.com has been carefully titled: "Mike Long Wants You to Catch the Biggest Bass of Your Life." Not only is the title true — he really wants that for you — but he's confident you're going to make it happen ... if you're willing to work at it and follow his advice. And it doesn't matter if you live in Southern California (like he does), Texas, Florida, Maine, Canada or Spain.
But back to that résumé. It's worth a look.
In a bass fishing career that has spanned more than 40 years, Mike Long has caught hundreds of bass weighing more than 10 pounds, dozens in the teens, 82 over 15 pounds (including a 16 pounder earlier this year) and one weighing more than 20 — a 20-pound, 12-ounce leviathan you may remember as "Dottie." The biggest of his catches ranks 10th on Bassmaster's list of the biggest bass ever caught.
He's appeared on the cover of 42 fishing magazines in the United States, Canada, Japan, Spain and South Africa, and he's one of only two non-tournament pros to have twice appeared on the cover of Bassmaster Magazine (Doug Hannon was the other).
When Mike Long talks trophy bass fishing, anglers all over the world listen. And now he'll be sharing his methods, attitudes and ideas with us on Bassmaster.com.
Check back next Monday for the first installment of "Mike Long Wants You to Catch the Biggest Bass of Your Life." It could be the first step to realizing one of your bass fishing dreams.