By Steve Graf
Now that we have carved the turkey and taken a nap while watching the Dallas Cowboys traditional Thanksgiving Day game, we can now turn our attention to Christmas. But before we begin to think about jolly Ole St. Nick, let’s take a look at why I’m so thankful. No one appreciates more than me the opportunities I’ve had over the years to pursue and chase largemouth bass all across the southern United States. As a bass fisherman, I am truly blessed in so many ways. While I’m sure I’ll probably leave something out, here’s my list of what I’m thankful for.
- My health… At the age of 60, and still in decent shape, I’m able to get in and out of my boat without busting my butt. I can still make that giant leap onto the front deck and drop the trolling motor in the water. I can fish all day and still feel pretty good the next day, as long as I’m taking my joint supplements and Aleve!
- My boat… As a young man growing up, I looked forward to the day I would be launching my 20-foot Ranger bass boat with a 250 HP Yamaha engine on the back and the best Minn Kota trolling motor (Ultrex)… that with the push of a button will lock you down on a brush pile in the middle of the lake.It is a boat fully carpeted with awesome seats that rides like a luxury car and the best state of the art electronics that could probably help navigate your way to the moon and back.
- The best rods and reels…. Another blessing is being a part of an awesome company like Daiwa. They have a tremendous line of rods and reels that I have used for the last six years, that just might be the best on the planet.
- My relationships with certain companies…. Over the years, I’ve forged relationships with companies like Ranger Boats, Daiwa, SPRO, Gamakatsu, V&M,Seaguar fishing line and Santone Lures. Great companies that are staples in the bass fishing industry. What a blessing!
- Great tournament organizations … I love competition and today anglers have a multitude of options to choose from. Organizations like B.A.S.S. and Major League Fishing (MLF) offer a wide range of tournaments for all skill levels from high school to college to professional. At no time in history has there been so many bass fishing opportunities that allow anglers to compete.
- The best lakes in the country….Take a pen and draw a 150-mile radius around Natchitoches, Louisiana, and you will have circled three of top 10 lakes in the country. Located right here in our own back yard are legendary lakes like Toledo Bend, Sam Rayburn and Caddo. But just outside that radius in East Texas sit Lake Fork, Lake of the Pines, Lake Monticello, and I’ll even throw in the Red River, just because of its history of hosting the Bassmaster Classic twice and a place I love to fish.
- Friends and fellow competitors…. This is what makes tournament bass fishing special. The friendships and connections I have made through bass fishing is insane. While all of us want to win every time we launch our boats, there’s something special about the relationships you form with fellow anglers that cannot be explained. Just like any other sport, there are “clicks” or groups of guys that will help each other during an event like maybe sharing a technique they’re using or sharing information about a bait they’re getting bites on. Within each of these clicks though, is a word called trust. Bass anglers are a funny bunch when it comes to sharing info and before they will share, trust must be established. Just like a marriage, if trust is broken, that bond is severed forever.
One more thing, as an outdoorsman I’ve had the joy of watching some of the best sunrises and sunsets ever seen. God paints an awesome display each and every day on a giant blue canvas. There’s something special in the air on a tournament morning just before take-off with the sun rising in the east and anglers sitting on the water. It’s an indescribable feeling of how good God is and what a privilege it is to get to do what I do. I’m truly thankful for all of this, and so much more, that I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy during my long bass fishing career. Till next week, good luck, good fishing and don’t forget to set the hook!