I have always been a fishing junkie. For as long as I can remember, I have been obsessed with anything to do with fishing. I fished my first derby when 5 years old.
My father was a school teacher from Newark, Delaware, and we spent every summer traveling all over the country. We had visited every state in the United States by the time I was 16. On these trips, I would go fishing every chance I got. Sometimes it was the only thing that kept me from boredom.
My parents didn't fish, so to learn about it, I would go to the library and read magazines and everything else I could. I can't remember the first time I heard about BASS, but it was probably mentioned in an article in Sports Afield. My parents gave me a subscription as a present.
I would often ride my bicycle everywhere I could find a place to fish. Sometimes my father would drop me off and pick me up later. I always fished from the bank — I didn't get into fishing from boats until late 1960s or early '70s.
I mostly fished with purple plastic worms I ordered from Herters (a sporting goods mail order firm of that time), and I used rods I built myself from Herters kits.
Fishing was very good in those days, as I recall, but I'm a firm believer that the fishing today is better than it's ever been. There are incidences where the reverse is true, but overall I am absolutely convinced that the good ol' days are still ahead of us.
While I was still in college, I became involved in the BASS Federation. I even fished the Nationals in 1975, representing Delaware. The tournament was held at Clarks Hill Reservoir, and I was 22 years.I continue to help on Federation Nation projects, and I still fish tournaments almost every weekend through September. I've been Angler of the Year in six different states, on various tournament circuits.Fishing has always been important to me, but BASS took it to a level that had a lot more significance in my life. It gave me a chance to really put my heart and soul into the sport — much more than I would have done with just casual fishing. It did a lot to keep me out of trouble when I was young. More than a hobby, it has helped develop me into the person I am.
(Andrew P. Marcantonio Jr., 54, lives in Steilacoom, Wash. A retired Army colonel, he also worked as a fisheries biologist for several years. He currently he writes articles about fishing under the pen name, Marc Marcantonio.)