Tag Archives: bass

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Fishing Buddies

By Jim Biery

“Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime.” This famous quote is based on the principle of long-term stability by teaching self-sufficiency. The person that taught me this very useful lesson in life is my father.

When I was young, maybe five or six, I heard my father leaving the house very early most Saturday mornings and always wondered where he could be going. I would sneak out of my room and look over the banister leading downstairs until he was out of sight. Later that day, he would come back and I would run to his truck to see where he had been. More times than not, he would pull fish from inside the truck and put them into a tub with water. I was intrigued with how the fish looked and the color of each one. This is when I got hooked (pitiful pun intended) on fishing.

Now, for everyone reading this, fishing is a sport. Try being in direct sunlight, water reflecting the heat, and having to cast 800 to 1,000 times in a single day of fishing. Tell me that isn’t as much of a pain in the hind-end as burpees!

Once I was old enough to follow my father out of the house in the wee early morning, I began to understand why he arose so early just to catch fish. Have you ever seen a sunrise that offers you every color and nuance a human eye can experience and appreciate? This is what is special about fishing in general. The fact that you can share such a special environment with your best friend and father? Priceless.

Over the years, we have experienced just about everything that could possibly happen when you go fishing. We have fished when it was so cold that the eyelets on the rod would freeze around the line making it difficult to cast. We have been chased by a bull trying to cross a field to get to the next pond to fish. When a curious dog was too close to the action, we had to take hooks out of some very sensitive paws.

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Along with all the adventures and mishaps also came life lessons, only at the time I didn’t realize what my father was teaching me. When you’re young, you don’t always focus on what is exactly being said or shown to you. You can’t fully appreciate the importance of time spent together. There were a couple of times when hanging out with the guys for the night turned into an early morning phone call explaining that I didn’t feel good and couldn’t go fishing. I think we all know what the real illness was. (I bet some of you may have felt that way before, too.)

Now that I am older and a bit wiser, I do see what he was hoping I would pick up on. When I would get angry because I missed a big fish, he would try and teach patience. Dealing with adversity comes in handy when your reaching into tree branches to try and get your favorite bait back. When the bites are hard to come by, you have to be determined and focused on your goal of catching a trophy bass.

To show how to overcome pain, my father once had a treble hook get stuck in his forearm. After trying in vain to remove it, he simply cut the line and kept fishing for a couple more hours. Once he got home, he went to emergency care and they cut it out of his arm. My mother just shook her head and wondered about the thought process that went through his head. This would not be a one-time thing she would have to deal with to be sure.

At some point, these lessons became clear to me. Not all at once, but as I went through my ups and downs in life, I began to lean on these principles my father laid out for me. Now when we get the chance to fish together there is only one thing that forces us to reschedule: Mother Nature.

We won’t dare speak of it out loud but we silently understand that being able to fish together will eventually come to an end. Neither one of us are spring chickens anymore. Because of this I really appreciate how special it is to be able to share this time with my father. It is even more special because the memories and experiences are only shared by us and close family and friends we choose to share stories with. You see, when you blast every event and detail of it all over social media, you lose the uniqueness of the moment and who you experienced it with. It seems everyone has to let the world know everything they do looking for acceptance and validation somehow.

I don’t need to have thousands of followers or people to “swipe right” in order to receive confirmation that I did or saw something special. I know that the history I have made with my father – my No. 1 fishing buddy – is very special and will last in our minds as long as we go forward in life and on our fishing trips. Love you, Pops.

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He’s the Reel Deal

By Steve Kaufman | Photos By David Harrison

Brad Moser fishes bass for the competition and prize money. It’s a hobby that can take over his life.

Ask any fisherman about the biggest one he’s ever caught and – well – there’s a reason they call those “fish stories.”

But Brad Moser’s record is on full view and easy to confirm. When he talks about the seven-pound bass he caught on Lake Monroe, it’s part of his competitive record, just like Malik Monk’s 47 points against North Carolina.

(He once caught an eight-pounder on Lake Okeechobee, but that wasn’t in a tournament, so we’ll take his word on that one. Actually, Moser would insert a correction right here: It was eight pounds, four ounces.)

Moser is a professional bass fisherman who goes out on the lakes and rivers of Kentucky and Indiana practically every weekend, competing for prize money. Over more than 20 years, he’s been pretty successful at it – especially around here, competing with the First River City Bassmasters out of Southern Indiana.

bm2But there are other, bigger fish to fry for him. Professional bass fishing has an entire network of tournaments. Competitors progress from local tournaments, to state, to regional, ultimately culminating in what Moser called “the Super Bowl” of his sport, the Bass Master Classic, to be held at the end of March this year, near Houston.

Weekend anglers go out and try their luck. Moser, like other professional bass fishermen, insists there is no “luck” to the sport. Success is a combination of experience, knowledge, judgment and equipment. It’s also a willingness to put in the time, go out to the lakes and ponds and do your homework, studying the conditions, the weather and – most of all – the bass.

The bass can be a hungry fish, willing to chomp at anything he sees swirling around in his environment. But he’s also easily spooked, by noise or motion in the water, and can have unpredictable habits, determined by the weather or the water temperature, or by whatever he chooses to feed upon on that particular day. And it’s the understanding and anticipation of these habits that separates the serious fishermen from the good-time-Charlies who see fishing as an excuse to relax on a boat and pound back a beer or two on a Sunday afternoon in August.

Or, as Moser said, “tournament fishing is not going out, tossing a line in the water and watching your bobber all day.”

It’s pretty much a year-round sport, too. “You can catch bass all year, even with the water temperature in the 30s,” he said. “They’re still eating the shad, still moving – their metabolism requires that they move.”

In the spring, they spawn. “They get into the shallower waters to build their nests and lay their eggs. They’re not chasing the shad so much; they’re at the shoreline where you can actually see them. It’s a different kind of fishing.” Like shooting fish in a barrel.

His favorite time, Moser said, is in the late fall. “The bass feed better. Also, you don’t have all the boat traffic, all the jet skiers.”

And in the winter, he said, “the shad die off until the water gets into the 50s, so right now the water is full of bass – and they’re hungry.”

In the spring, they spawn. “They get into the shallower waters to build their nests and lay their eggs. They’re not chasing the shad so much; they’re at the shoreline where you can actually see them. It’s a different kind of fishing.”

Like shooting fish in a barrel.

His favorite time, Moser said, is in the late fall. “The bass feed better. Also, you don’t have all the boat traffic, all the jet skiers.”

And in the winter, he said, “the shad die off until the water gets into the 50s, so right now the water is full of bass – and they’re hungry.”

Ponds and Poles

Like so many kids who grew up in the more rural parts of Kentucky and Southern Indiana, Moser was surrounded by ponds as a young boy. It wasn’t unusual to see him and his friends trooping through the New Albany woods of the 1970s and 80s with fishing poles on their shoulders, heading for the ponds to catch some bass, catfish and bluegill.

“It was a different time,” he recalled. “You don’t see many 10-year-olds today walking around with fishing poles on their shoulders, do you?”

But golf was his other passion in those days. After playing for Providence High School, he earned a scholarship to Trine University in Angola (known as Tri-State in those days), and then, for two years, at Indiana University Southeast.

“I loved the competition of golf,” Moser said. “And when I got out of school, I missed it. I was looking for that same level of competition.”

Which drew him back to fishing.

From Golf Clubs to Bass Clubs

Moser joined a local club, Rodbenders, in 1994 and, in 1998, moved to First River City Bassmasters and became part of the competitive world of tournament fishing.

For what Moser estimates as 45 weekends throughout the year, he’s out on the lakes competing with hundreds of other bass fishermen for the prize money, trawling the waters of Patoka Lake, bm1Monroe Reservoir, Nolin Lake, Rough River Lake, Barren River Lake, Kentucky Lake, Lake Barkley and the Ohio River.

“The prize goes to the biggest total catch,” Moser explained. “In most tournaments, that’s a five-fish limit – in some, it’s six. It’s all based on total weight. There’s also a prize for the single biggest fish.”

The tournaments start at daylight on Sunday morning and usually run about nine hours. The fish all have to be caught alive, and they all have to go back into the water alive.

In the Hoosier Open, the local circuit of tournaments that Moser enters with his fishing partner, Kelly Hook, there are $200 entry fees for winning prizes of around $4,000.

As they move up through the network of tournaments, the prize money increases as well, to as much as $60,000. Then there’s the Classic, which has a $500,000 grand prize.

Moser has not made it to the Classic – yet. But he has won as much as $35,000 in a good year of competition. “Not bad for a hobby,” he said.

Testing the Waters

But it’s a hobby that occasionally overwhelms his real life. (His day job is in sales and project management for GCH International, the Louisville-based metal fabricator.) To do well on Sunday, he insisted, you have to be out on the lake on Friday and Saturday, testing the waters.

“That’s how the real pros make the money,” Moser said. “They’re out there for two full days before the tournament, seeing where the bass are huddling and how they’re eating. They’re also analyzing the weather conditions. How cold is the water? How calm? How muddy? How sunny is it out? How windy? All that will determine how the bass are acting.”

He said the bass are always moving around, going where the bait is. They feed on crawdaddys, minnows, shad and the like.

“If the bait goes deep, he’ll go deep. If it goes up the creek, he’ll go up the creek. So, when you’re practicing, you’re trying to figure out where the bait’s going, because the bass will be with the bait.”

Also, he said, you spend Fridays and Saturdays reading the lake. “The lake is always changing. It’s different from Friday to Sunday. Heck, it’s different from morning to afternoon. If it becomes cloudy, say, you might have to change where you’re setting up. That’s why we have big, fast boats. At 70miles-per-hour, I can completely change my surroundings in a heartbeat.”

But, he said, “If you don’t go out and practice on Friday and Saturday, your chances of winning that tournament go down dramatically.”

SORRY, GONE FISHING

There’s a cost to all that, of course. “You miss some important family dates,” Moser said. “A lot of birthdays and graduations. But the guys who get the checks every week, they’re practicing, putting their time in, getting in touch with what the lake’s doing.”

Fortunately, Moser has an understanding employer. He’s managing some big projects these days, involving the Kentucky International Convention Center in downtown Louisville; a $2 million University of Louisville project; and the water intake system for the city of North Vernon, Ind.

“I only take off on Friday for the big tournaments,” he said, “the ones with prizes of $4,000, $6,000 and up. For some of the really big ones, though, I’ll take off the whole week and go down and practice.”

Moser is unmarried, but engaged. Fortunately, he has some understanding here, too. His fiancée, Natalie Lowe, is also one of his fishing partners.

“We fish about 14 tournaments a year together,” Moser said. “I got her hooked on bass fishing. She grew up fishing bluegill and catfish with her daddy, but she’d never been on a boat until she met me.”

They’ve been dating since 1997, “so she knows what this life is all about.”

Hooking Up

Moser’s other competition partner, Kelly Hook, is also president of the Indiana Bass Federation (at 1,000 members, the largest such federation in the country). They’ve been a team since 2007, winning the Hoosier Open’s Anglers of the Year Award their first year together.

Do two good, experienced fishermen automatically spell partnership success? Not necessarily.

“Two good fisherman can team up and do horribly,” Hook said. “From the beginning, though, we trusted each other’s judgment and experience. Our first time out, Brad suggested we fish a certain part of the lake, and we won that tournament. “I knew we’d be all right together.”

Experience and judgment are part of the secret. So is the right equipment. Moser said he uses a baitcaster reel about 95 percent of the time, and mostly fast-action rods that are stiff along the shaft and with a little bit of bend at the tip. He prefers the heavier equipment. “Rods are getting lighter and lighter, which makes them more sensitive but also more easily breakable,” he explained. “With mine, when I set the hook, I could throw a brick over my head.”

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Baiting the Line 

He has thousands of baits in his boat, spinner baits and crankbaits, but his favorite is a jig. (Competitors can use only artificial baits in tournaments.)

“On Friday and Saturday, you see what the fish are feeding on so you can mimic that with your bait,” said Moser. “Are they eating crawdads or bluegill or minnows by the bank, or the shad out on the lake? My preference is throwing a jig with a crawdad trailer, mimicking a crawdad.”

Moser’s boat is a 20-foot Skeeter with a 225-horsepower Yamaha motor. He also has a trawling motor in front for prowling quietly along the banks. “We may cover miles and miles of shoreline during a tournament,” he said. “We can quietly go along the bank, making virtually no noise at all, sneak up to the next tree, the next rock, the next log, fishing every little hiding spot and ambush point the bass may have, trying to put our bait into the water as quietly as possible.”

It Ain’t Easy 

It’s a sport that requires experience and finesse, but also enormous stamina.

“I laugh when people say it must be so relaxing,” said Hook. “You stand for nine hours, in the freezing rain or snow, or when it’s 95 degrees outside. There’s no ‘it’s too hot’ or ‘too cold’ for us. We’re out there, no matter what the weather. It’s a grueling sport.”

“As you get older, you can develop problems in your wrist and elbow,” said Moser, who’s 43. “You’re standing all day, so you can have knee problems. It’s nine hours of dealing with the waves, keeping your balance, one foot against the trawl motor pedal, making thousands of casts a day.”

Nor are there lunch breaks. “Your time is critical,” he said. “You have only nine hours to catch the five biggest fish. If you break for a sandwich, 120 other guys are making their catch.”

You’d better check your equipment before you start, too. Hook talked about a broken line that once cost him nearly $10,000. “I ended up with a check for $400, but if I’d-a brought that big fish in, I’d have won first prize.”

Even for the bass pros, there’s always the one that got away.