By Steve Graf
“Just say no!” This has been the slogan to fight the drug war going on in this country since former First Lady Nancy Reagan introduced it in 1982. Her work was extensive and diligent in fighting the war on drugs. This fight still continues today, and it appears it’s a war we’re losing. With little to no border control and our government leaders refusing to recognize that we have a border crisis, the battle rages on. As a teen growing up in East Texas, I had very little exposure to the drug world, but knew it existed. In the 1970’s, marijuana, speed and cocaine were the drugs of choice for those that chose that route looking to get high. Today I’ll give you my perspective on my drug of choice back then, one that I’m still addicted to and crave today.
As most of you already know, athletics have played a huge role in my life and are responsible for the opportunities that have come my way over the years. I enjoyed a great high school career, running track and playing both baseball and football, which included winning the Texas 3A State Baseball Championship in 1978. I was blessed with a football/baseball scholarship to Northwestern State that resulted in being drafted by the Montreal Expos (today’s Washington Nationals) in 1983.
Sports for me, was a drug that came with both highs and lows. Drug addicts talk about how they just can’t get enough of whatever they’re craving. For me, I could relate because I was the same way. I could not get enough of the rush that sports gave me. I thought about it 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I would dream of getting my next high by hitting a home run, making a great play, or scoring a touchdown. Success in the sports arena came fairly easy for me, as God blessed me with good athletic ability.
But let’s talk about my first addiction…. bass fishing. Fishing has been an addiction for me since I caught my first bass as a kid walking the banks of our ranch stock ponds. This all started for me in the summer of 1969 when I got my first Zebco rod and reel combo. I was basically self-taught. I remember getting my hands on a copy of Bassmaster magazine that was full of tips and technique illustrations anyone could follow. One of the gifts I got on my 10th birthday was a subscription to Bassmaster magazine. BEST GIFT EVER!!!! Back then there were only a few fishing shows that existed. I watched “Fishing with Virgil Ward” and “Outdoors with John Fox.” Both were great, but then I found a show called “The Bassmaster’s,” hosted by legendary Bob Cobb. This introduced me to guys who actually fished for a living. Are you kidding me? You could make a living catching bass?!!! Now this had my full attention, and I could not wait for it to come on each week. I remember watching anglers like Tommy Martin, Bill Dance, Rick Clunn and Roland Martin, guys who became legends of the sport.
For me, there’s always been something about the moment you set the hook and a fish starts to pull drag. The adrenaline rush is unmatched and unexplainable! You don’t know how big your catch is until you see it jump out of the water as it is trying to throw your bait, or you swing it in the boat. Even today, despite the many bass I’ve caught over my lifetime, I still get this huge rush of excitement. So, I guess this makes me an addict! I just can’t get enough bass fishing action! It can be so rewarding, whether you’re catching small one-to-two-pound bass or five and six pounders. It’s still the same rush!
To wrap this up, if you’ve never had a fishing experience before, find someone to take you who knows what they’re doing. Go hire a fishing guide or an experienced angler who can teach you the ins and outs of fishing. If you want to get high, go fishing…whether it’s for bass, crappie, redfish or trout! The species doesn’t matter; the high is still the same. But beware, it can be addicting! Till next time, good luck, good fishing and don’t forget to set the hook!
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