Never abandon ship (or bass boat)

Recently, I spent several days test driving and filming tractors of all shapes and sizes. These test-drives were courtesy of a new sponsor for Bill Dance Outdoors — Mahindra Tractors (

This is the No. 1 selling tractor in the world, and man, was it a plus carrying loads to the feeders that I have strategically placed around the shoreline of my lake. Admittedly, I haven't figured out how to troll a crankbait along behind a Mahindra while I am clipping the banks, but trust me, the wheels are turning!

Seriously, in today's blog I am going to offer some advice and the long and the short of it is — never give up!

It's a credo that struck home again the other day while I was fishing an old river oxbow with Steve Hargis, director of video productions at Bass Pro Shops.

Prior to Steve's arrival we had been wearing them out in the shallows — 40-60 bass, caught on Pop-R's and Poppin' Images that we just barely twitched.

Well, naturally, we went back to the same spot and tried the same tactic. I mean, it worked before, right?

Of course, it didn't take long for Steve to realize he might be on a "you-shoulda-been-here" yesterday trip. We fished for a couple of hours with few strikes and tried various baits with only a couple of small bass to show for the effort.

Steve even uttered the, "Well, it looks like they have quit biting" line. But, being a bit stubborn (ask my wife about that), I kept searching. As a last-ditch effort, I moved about 75 yards toward open water, where I knew some submerged trees were located.

On my first cast with an XCalibur XR50 rattlebait, I got a bite. I caught a 2-pounder. On the next cast I hooked up with a 7- to 8-pounder that I lost at the boat. We soon discovered that by running the baits down and hitting the treetops, the fish would nail 'em. We ended up catching 35 or so out in the open water by doing this.

As it turns out, the fish had not quit biting. They had simply moved to deeper water. It happens all the time. I can't tell you how many times I have been filming for Bill Dance Outdoors, and rather than simply give up, I have worked harder to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Once I was fishing with my dear friend Ronnie Shannon. Well, we had fished for three hours with only three bass to show for it and Ronnie started making those, "mmph, mmph, mmph" and "well, well, well" noises which translate to "I'm ready to go." His attitude only made me fish faster. And, being stubborn anyway (see above), I kept fishing and trying different tactics. The added effort paid off and I figured some things out. In two hours, we managed to catch 49 bass!

So remember, when the fishing gets tough, the tough (stubborn) keep fishing!


For more words of wit and wisdom from one of our sport's greatest legends, check out