When BASS was founded, it sounded like a good thing to me, so I joined. Ray Scott and BASS taught us how to have tournaments. There was a lot of cheating in those days. There'd be "runaway tournaments" — you'd go get your check and find out they were bankrupt.It was nice to fish those early BASS tournaments. But it wasn't a big decision for me to talk about going full-time with them. You just had to check Roland Martin's income at that time to see it wouldn't work.
I couldn't tell you how many I fished …maybe five or six. I won a little money and I got a trophy or two. My son has a silver cup that looked like Scott got a good deal on some tennis trophies somewhere.
The first Classic (held in 1971) came along one year I was fishing. I didn't qualify but if I had, I couldn't have gone. I had three kids chewing on the doorknobs, and I had to work.Back in 1967 I mostly fished Toledo Bend and Rayburn. If you weren't fishing Toledo Bend back then you were in the wrong place.I had a 635-pound Skeeter Hawk with a made a 140 Mercury on it. It would run like the wind. Mercury did not make stainless prop then, so I had Mike Hood in Houston push a Johnson hub out of one of their props and fit it for a Merc. Johnny Morris had the next fastest boat.
I once drew a guy from Oklahoma in a tournament out of Flying Bridge Marina on Toledo Bend. You could follow the river, but there were a lot of curves. I kind of straightened it out, running right across the flooded timber. Along the way, I looked to the side, and I pulled the water off a stump the size of a 55-gallon drum. Scared us both.
A guy doesn't reach his top in bass fishing until it never leaves his mind. I would put the boat in at daylight and pull out at dark. I had a bass break my line and I had to lean over the side of boat and throw up. I was obsessed. I told my wife it wouldn't be my job that killed me but bass fishing.Tournament fishing nearly ruined my bass fishing. I never let the weather stop me. I spent two nights on the bank of Rayburn because I couldn't get in. The second time, though, I had a sleeping bag in the boat with me.People have learned so much from BASS. For instance, not to leave their brains at the dock. I have kept a log of every trip I made, whether in a tournament or I just went fishing. I wrote down water temperatures, weather conditions, how I caught the fish, what I thought I did wrong and what I did right. I look back on those logs today and I recall one January day when I caught fish on Rayburn 56 feet deep on a jig. The next New Year's Eve, I was on the very same spot. While other people were ringing in New Year, I was reeling in the New Year.
When I got interested in bass fishing — I was 18 or 19 — we caught 'em with minnows. We used old Pflueger Supremes and silk line, which you had to string out on fence to dry. The first mono line was really unruly and weak.
I started fishing with plastic worms as soon as Nick Crème first came out with them. They were a very ugly brown, I think. We fished them on wire guard weedless hooks. We would wade and fish the marsh and swamp (in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana). A bass would pick the worm up, and we'd count 1, 2, 3, 4, and we'd set the hook. If it was in his stomach, we'd go to a 2 count. That's the way we were fishing that worm. He sold them in 3 packs. Still have some of those. The best color for me was blue.Soon, the Texas rig came along and that changed everything. To keep the hook inside the worm at that time, and through the Fliptail era, we had to run a toothpick through the worm and through the eye of the hook, and then break off the ends.BASS has been a big factor in the changes in the tackle we fished with. Back then, I was using 10- and 12-pound-test line that was bigger than 20-pound is today. I recall that a bass rod was supposed to be 5 1/2 feet long. That was the optimum length. We were using all those broom handle rods.Today's chemically sharpened hooks are whole lot better than what we used. If you weren't using a 4/0 Sproat, you were using the wrong dang worm. Electronics have gotten so much better. I believe BASS had a big impact on everything.
Eugene Lacy, 74, lives in Sam Rayburn, Texas, and is still obsessed with bass fishing. When he isn't fishing Sam Rayburn Reservoir, he makes frequent trips to Lake Comedero, Mexico, with his friends at Ron Speed Adventures.)