The more you meet the fans and anglers of bass fishing, the more you realize just how incredibly diverse the people who love it are. Case in point would be Pete Adams, who is best known as the guitarist of heavy metal band Baroness. Heavy metal might not be the best description, though. Peter suggested we call them “melodic, classic, progressive rock.” He then concedes that it may be too many words.
Mixing all of those things together you get a very unique and critically acclaimed band, a band comprised of four men from parts of Virginia and Georgia who have toured the world and sold lots of albums over the last 10 years.
The introduction to our talk with Peter should end there. But on August 15, 2012, a month after releasing their third full length album, Yellow and Green, the brakes on Baroness’ tour bus failed going down a steep hill in England sending them careening over a 30-foot drop and directly into a forest. It’s not for the faint of heart, but lead singer John Baizley’s chilling account is an amazing read. Two other members of the band suffered injured vertebrae, and all four of them along with their crew feel extremely fortunate to have walked away from the incident.
B.A.S.S.: What was it like going through the bus crash?
Peter Adams: I’ve come to the realization in the last month or so that we got struck by lightning, so to speak. That was just a one in a million chance that it was going to happen. It lets me rest easier at night, actually. As much travelling as you do in a band, you’re always in a plane, bus, train, car, cab, whatever. Something is bound to happen at some point — and that something happened to us that day. It’s easy to dwell on it. I’ve been through a lot of crazy stuff in my life; this is just one of them. In any kind of trauma situation, people handle it a differently even if you were side-by-side. I personally, literally, landed on my feet in this accident. I was the least injured of everyone, just sustaining some minor cuts and bruises. One thing’s for sure — it reminds you that you are not invincible, and it can end just like that. And it reminds me to make the most out of every day.
B.A.S.S.: Since you guys are recovering, have you found time to do the other thing you love, fishing?
Peter Adams: You know it. I had about a month and a half to get ready for bow season which just opened up here in Virginia and spent time fishing in October — you can throw a dart at a map and it’ll be good somewhere. We were supposed to be touring until Christmas but since that’s been cancelled I know how I’m going to fill my time
My favorite place to go fishing is a few hours south of where I live on the Northeast Tennessee/Virginia state line where the South Holston River flows out of Holston Lake. I don’t know if you’ve heard about that fishery, but I’d say it’s one of the top five palewaters east of the Mississippi. You’ve got wild browns and rainbows reproducing in that river — five to six thousand per mile. If you stand still on a rock and let your eyes adjust to the river bottom, it’s so clear you can just see the bottom crawling with fish. It’s kind of crazy. The first time I went there I saw so many fish feeding on the surface, I thought, “No way those are all trout. No way.” I’m getting ready to head down there soon with a buddy of mine. We go camping, fishing. They shut the river down November 1 through February 1 for spawning so we’ve got to get down there quick before they shut it down on us.
B.A.S.S.: How did you get started fishing?
Peter Adams: Well, my father taught me how to fish. He had four kids, and I was the only one who took to it. As far back as I can remember, I was wetting a line with him. We still go fishing in the same fishing hole 25 years later. We fish the exact same spots together; it’s pretty cool. My dad likes to fly fish but when he started having kids in the late '70s, early '80s he put it all down. He is also a hunting guy. That was his business when I was growing up. I spent a lot of time hunting and fishing with him, running around the woods and on the water. By the time I was a teenager, I’d picked up a fly rod again and started fly fishing. Now, I just do it all. I love fly fishing; I love saltwater fly fishing; I love sitting on a beach and hunking a bottom rig. I just love catching fish. I got my dad back into fly fishing; now that he's older, I think he can sit down and appreciate it a little bit more.
B.A.S.S.: What’s your experience with bass fishing?
Peter Adams: Bass fishing was my first experience with fishing in general. I don’t know how familiar you are with Virginia waters but we’ve got some of the best smallmouth fishing in the country. We’ve got the New River, the James, the Shenandoah, and also all the feeder rivers — the Calfpasture, the Maury. The Cow Pasture and the Jackson River form the James up in Alleghany County. So I grew up running around smallmouth fishing. It’s the name of the game where I’m from. I didn’t catch my first trout until I was an adult. I grew up catching smallmouth and carp.
B.A.S.S.: What’s your biggest bass?
Peter Adams: Unfortunately I think the biggest one I caught was when I was a teenager. My biggest smallmouth was about 5 pounds, maybe pushing 6. You can catch them 2 and 3 pounds, but to top that off is a real thrill. I’m always hunting for that big smallmouth down in Virginia. I’m starting to get antsy talking about it — I need to get a few more big ones.
B.A.S.S.: Since you do all kinds of fishing, what’s the biggest, craziest thing you’ve caught?
Peter Adams: Wow, what’s the biggest thing I ever caught? I’d say it has to be a barracuda. I was with a buddy of mine and we were traveling down to the Bahamas. This was the first time I’ve ever gone, and I’d heard nothing but great things about fishing in the Bahamas. I’ve never seen clearer waters in my life, man. White sand — and you could see 20 to 30 feet to the bottom. There’s just about everything to catch down there. My buddy and I were going after the gamefish of choice down there like bonefish, but honestly there’s so much to catch we didn’t care. We were coming through a cut in this tiny little beat up Boston whaler we had rented out, and I see something splashing and chasing on the surface. I thought that maybe it was a barracuda laid up ambushing something on this cut. I hunked a big ol’ minnow out there, a big red flashy thing. I’d cast and strip, cast and strip and nothing. But then it felt like I got hung up on the bottom. And then it just came out of the water — tailwalked a couple of times. This thing was pushing about 5 feet long. This is a nasty big barracuda. I got so excited I jumped in the water with it.
B.A.S.S.: With a barracuda?
Peter Adams: Now, looking back, I wouldn’t have done that! I was just so excited I had to jump in the water and put my hands on this thing! I’d worn him out at that point, thank goodness.
That’s probably the biggest fish I've ever caught, but as far as fighting fish I had the opportunity to fish in Australia a couple of years ago chasing kingfish. Those kingfish… they are a fighting fish. We were throwing squid imitations at them. They are real finicky feeders and not easy to hook up with but when you do they put you to work!
I've caught hundreds of little fish and that’s fun but I’ve got to the point in my life where I’ve geared up heavy and I just want to find the biggest thing I can now.
B.A.S.S.: Do you carry tackle with you when Baroness is on tour?
Peter Adams: It all depends on the tour. Sometimes it's just work, work, work, and it's hard to find the time to have a moment to yourself. But when I know I’m going to have a day off here or there I’ll try to slip in somewhere. One of my favorite places to fish on tour is in the Northwest between Seattle and Portland on I-5. You've got so many good salmon and steelhead waters like the Kalama River. I think it is Exit 36. Whenever we pass, I start yelling, “Pull over!” Even if we don’t have time, I tell them I gotta hit the river real quick.
B.A.S.S.: Do you try to influence where you go on tour based on fishing?
Peter Adams: When I get my say, you know I will! If it were up to me, the whole tour would be one day of playing music followed by a day of fishing. I’ll work that out one of these days if I’m lucky.
B.A.S.S.: Are there any similarities between playing the guitar and fishing?
Peter Adams: Absolutely. 100%. I think they go hand in hand. I’m still forever learning on the water. And it's the same with the guitar. I’m always trying to write a new song or learn a new bit of a style. How to say something differently, you know? I think we can get stuck in a rut. You go to the water and maybe the first thing you tie on is same thing you tie on every day you are out there. But it doesn’t always work. It’s the same with the guitar. You have some tricks up your sleeve, and you can get in the habit of repeating yourself. There’s always more to learn with both of them. That’s what I love about playing music and fishing. They both harbor the same energy. I have an equal amount of passion for both. Sometimes I catch myself thinking about fishing more than music! But I’m always trying to improve on both of them.
B.A.S.S.: So there’s more fishing in your future?
Peter Adams: Absolutely. I’m still not at the point where I’m able to compromise fishing with relationships. Girls get frustrated with me because I tend to prioritize a fishing trip over a trip to the store.
I’m just going to fish… I don’t know if I’m ever going to get my fill of it, man. It is an obsessive thing.
B.A.S.S.: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Pete!