Is there a big audience for a fishing how-to book?
A huge audience. There are 48 million Americans who fish (nearly 1 in 6 Americans age 6 and up). Only a portion of these fish for smallmouth bass, but that group is growing tremendously.
Why is smallmouth bass fishing so popular?
Well, if you’ve ever caught a smallmouth bass, you already know why– they run, jump and fight like crazy— a real thrill on the line.
Is there anything more exciting than catching smallmouth?
Not much, except for jumping out of a C-130, like I did when I was a paratrooper in the army. It’s hard to top that, but catching a big smallie comes awfully close.
Rivers are where most smallmouth live, and smallmouth are the most popular gamefish to catch in rivers. Plus, rivers are such special, beautiful places to fish.
You write as a professional fishing guide. Do you still guide?
I sure do. After 20 years of guiding, I still love to help people catch fish, and I can’t help getting really excited when they get a big one.
What do you do when you’re not writing or guiding?
I’ll do just about anything that involves smallmouth bass. I’ve done 4 books, DVDs, over 700 magazine articles, smallmouth fishing schools, fly design and marketing, river guiding, videography, fly rod production, cross-country road trips, fishing expo seminars, scuba diving, coaching, Canadian fly-in lodge trip booking/hosting, river conservation, retailing, sea kayaking, inspirational speaking, custom gear and boat design, book publishing, television & radio shows, and exploring hundreds of rivers and wilderness lakes. I guess I like variety.
What’s the farthest you’ve traveled to fish for smallmouth?
A couple years ago I drove 5,000 miles on a 40-day smallmouth tour of the Eastern U.S. You can read about it in American Angler magazine. And last year I went to South Africa to fish for smallmouth.
Why South Africa?
They have smallmouth, so it’s kind of my duty to go there and fish, right? Plus, there were articles about me in South Africa’s fishing magazines, and I was invited over for speaking engagements and a tour of their country.
As an author, what do you read for personal enjoyment?
I kind of hate to admit this, but I enjoy reading fisheries biology studies on the couch in the evening. Pretty dry, academic stuff I know, but I just love learning anything I can about smallmouth bass. I like a good fishing story, too, of course.
Some say that you know smallmouth so well, it seems like you can talk to the fish, a’ la Dr. Doolittle.
Well, I do talk to my pets, and I keep smallmouth bass in my house as pets, to study their behavior.
Is smallmouth fishing your hobby or your job?
It’s my life. Media people often comment that even my vacations are all fishing vacations. I’m lucky that my wife likes smallmouth fishing, too, so no argument there.
What is the trend in smallmouth fishing?
Growth! Smallmouth bass fishing is the fastest-growing kind of fishing. River fishing is growing, too. It’s hard to believe how many more people I see out on the river now.
What are you doing after this interview?
I’m going out to do some “on–the-water research” (AKA fishing). Want to come?