Someone pinch Bill Perkins. The self-described fanboy of pro bass fishing wants to know if he dreamed the past month, because it’s been so surreal no one could have scripted it better.
The Rochester, N.Y., club angler became fishing buddies with Bassmaster Elite Series pro Taku Ito after coming to his aid more than a year ago. That connection led to an epic day of fishing this summer on Oneida Lake. Soon after, the Japanese sensation broke through with an Elite win. Two weeks after congratulating Ito, Perkins, fishing his first B.A.S.S. event, had the favor returned when he won the Basspro.com Bassmaster Open on Oneida Lake.
“It’s just kind of weird how this all lined up,” said Perkins, whose energy and voice sounded like a fired-up Jack Black. “It’s just been really crazy. It was just so special to have hometown buddies, my brother and closest friend watch me catch the fish on the last day. If you gave me a pen and pad I couldn’t have written it that cool.”
“Even the stuff with Taku and fishing with him there a month or so before and he goes on to win. Then somehow I win. It’s so weird. It’s like they say — reality is stranger than fiction. It’s definitely the case here.”
Pulling the thorn from a lion’s paw
Perkins came to Ito’s aid on Cayuga Lake in late June of 2020 as the Elites began their Northern Swing. Thinking he knew the boater in distress, Perkins went over to discover Ito’s boat stuck on a pin buoy, its chain wrapped around his propeller twice and most likely held down by a bunch of cinderblocks. It was a hard fix made sketchy in 3-foot waves.
“The back of his boat would go up, and then it would rip it back down,” Perkins said.
As precarious and dangerous as it was, Perkins got it partly unwrapped, but a link remained wedged between Ito’s prop and lower unit when Perkins drove for help. When Perkins came back with news that help was slowly coming, Ito decided to strip down to his skivvies and jumped into the 52-degree water to loosen the prop.
“As soon as he got a couple turns on it, the chain just like ripped to the bottom and he was off,” Perkins said. “He took a picture. That’s me in the background with a stupid smile.”