Larry Nixon recovering from heart surgery

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James Overstreet
1983 Bassmaster Classic winner Larry Nixon at the 2016 Toyota Texas Bass Classic.

Larry Nixon has made a career at seeing subtle changes in a fishery and capitalizing on them. It was one of those subtle things that literally saved his life.

As one of the most celebrated anglers in the history of bass fishing, Nixon underwent quadruple bypass surgery last week and the steps that took to get him there can be considered yet another lesson for anglers on paying attention to the little things.

Last fall during a duck hunt in Arkansas with constant hunting companion George Cochran, Nixon noticed a tingling in his arm. 

“We were on one of those long walks George likes to go on,’’ Nixon said from his home. “I started feeling tingling in my hands and arm, but I thought it was just because I had so many clothes on, that I was constricted in some way.”

Earlier this month at the Forrest Wood Cup, the feeling returned as Nixon was walking up a set of stairs for the weigh in.

“My fingers started tingling again. I immediately said, ‘I’ve felt this before,’” he said.

On his return from that event, Nixon called his doctor. That call didn’t go so well.

“He cussed me up and down,’’ Nixon said giggling.

After tests, Nixon was faced with a heart specialist who told him he was going to “cut me from one end to the other.”

“I knew if I wanted to fish, I better get cut,’’ Nixon said. “I was lucky too I guess. I had what they call the ‘widow maker’ and it probably wouldn’t be too long before it all shut down.”

At that point the road to surgery was quick, but like Nixon has been prone to do in more than 40 years of professional angling, he’s setting records on recovery.

“The doctor said I was setting a world record for recovery time,’’ Nixon said.

The surgery to repair blockages, replace a valve and “sew up” a heart murmur took place on Friday. Nixon was on his feet by Sunday and on his way home by Tuesday.

“I’m good to go,’’ he said. “It hurts to cough or laugh, so don’t make me laugh. It hurts too bad.”

Nixon added the recovery is going so well that doctor expects he will be able to archery hunt for deer by Nov. 1st, and gun hunt by Nov. 15th. No word yet on whether he will slosh through the flooded timber of Arkansas with Cochran this season, but at the current pace anything is possible. His first FLW event won’t be until February, so he expects by then all will be well.

“I’ll probably live longer now than I want to,’’ he quipped.