A Website, Two Fish and Chet Atkins

Harolds big fish pic 300x243 A Website, Two Fish and Chet Atkins

Harold Sharp holds his tournament big fish for the 1967 Smith Lake event put on by Ray Scott. Bob Cobb took the picture. Photo courtesy of Harold Sharp.

[Editor’s Note: This is a story of two big fish that Harold Sharp caught. The first fish was from the second Ray Scott tournament at Smith Lake, Alabama in 1967 and the second was from his club tournament (the Chattanooga Bass Club) in 1968. The story is told mainly from a series of emails I received from Harold after he was contacted by a reader who had found his fish.]

Since starting this website nearly a year ago, I have received a ton of emails from readers. Some of these emails have been suggestions on what to write about, some have been corrections, one was telling me I’m immature and most of them have been about how cool the site is. But there’s one email that really sticks out from the rest of them. It was an email from a gentleman named Chad Sawyer who wanted to talk with Harold Sharp.

Under all conditions I screen emails coming from folks who want to contact any of the writers here on the site. It’s not that I’m nosey, I just want to make sure it’s not spam or someone wanting to bother the guys. So, when I got this email from Chad that said, “Could I have Mr. Sharp’s email address,” I sent back an email asking what it pertained to.

The response I got was this:

“Just let him know I have a couple of his old mounts and was wondering if he might want them back. Didn’t know if he or any family would appreciate them.” Enclosed with the email were these pictures.

Sharps Fish Composite 300x106 A Website, Two Fish and Chet Atkins

Harold Sharp’s fish from Smith Lake, AL (1967) and Chickamauga Lake, TN (1968). Photo courtesy of Chad Sawyer.

So I sent the pictures and email to Harold. He sent Chad an email about the fish. Here is the correspondence:

Harold:

Hi Chad, I got email from Terry Battisti with photos of my old mounts. I had forgotten about them and seems like I may have left them somewhere when we moved years ago. I remember catching both fish and had them on my wall for years, then in 1970 we moved to Montgomery, AL. and I must have left them somewhere during the next few years as we moved to about 5 different locations. I live in Hixson, TN. now.

Chad’s Reply:

Mr. Sharp, I hope this note finds you well and in good spirits, it’s great to hear from you. I live in Nashville and, being an avid fisherman (from the Outer Banks of NC), my mother-in-law gave them to me probably ten years or more ago. She likely picked them up at a local yard sale or antique mall. I do love them, but have always felt slightly uneasy having another man’s bass hanging on the wall, if you know what I mean.

A quick search found you, so I’d like to ask you if you want them back – maybe someone in your family (grandchildren?) would like them if you don’t care to have them back. Don’t be humble, I cherish every single little memento my grandfather left me.

Regardless, it’s nice to “meet” you, and learn a bit about your life and contributions to fishing as a whole.

Talk to you soon,

Chad Sawyer

Harold then wrote Chad back and gave him a little more of the story. Here it is:

Hi Chad,

As Paul Harvey use to say, here’s the rest of the story.

In June 1967, Ray Scott announced a Bass Tournament at Beaver Lake, AR. I was too late to get in that event but talked with an angler from Chattanooga that fished it. He gave Ray my name and Ray invited me to his next tournament at Smith Lake, AL in October. That event had a trophy for the largest black bass and largest spotted bass. I caught the largest black bass and several days after the tournament I received my mounted bass in the mail from Ray Scott.

I fished the tournament with my fishing buddy Glynn West and on the way back to Chattanooga we talked about starting a Bass Club in Chattanooga. We had met Bob Cobb and others from Tulsa, who had started a club in Tulsa after the Beaver Lake event. Bob Cobb had taken a picture of my largest bass so I wrote him asking for a photo of it and also for information on how they organized the Tulsa Bass Club. I told him we were planning one in Chattanooga.

A few days later I got a call from Ray Scott concerning our bass club and he told me he was planning to organize the Bass Anglers Sportsmans Society (B.A.S.S.) and asked if he could come up for our meeting to organize our club.

Ray and I sat in his motel room and wrote the rules and organization plans for B.A.S.S. and the Chattanooga Bass Club. Later that night Ray announced B.A.S.S. at our club meeting, I was elected President of Chattanooga Bass and became the second member of B.A.S.S. Ray had come from Tulsa to Chattanooga and had signed Don Butler as the first member of B.A.S.S. while in Tulsa.

We organized the Chattanooga Bass Club as the first affiliated club in B.A.S.S., we had weekly club tournaments and if you caught a bass 6 pounds or over the club had it mounted for you. So now I had two mounted bass, the one from Smith Lake and one from Chickamauga Lake.

In November, 1970 I resigned from my job with the railroad and moved to Montgomery, AL to become the B.A.S.S. Tournament Director. I hung these two mounts on my office wall at B.A.S.S. In January 1987 I resigned from B.A.S.S. and moved to Woodstock, GA. I boxed the two bass and I never opened them as I had no place to hang them. We made two more moves in Georgia then in May 1990 we moved back to Chattanooga and I stored the box in our attic as I had no place to hang them. In March 1999 we sold that house to a couple and moved a few miles to Hixson, TN.

A few days later the couple called and said they found this box in the attic with two bass. I told them I had forgotten it was there and as I still had no place for them they could just put the box out for the trash to pick up. I never heard anymore about the bass and had forgotten them until Terry Battisti sent me your email and photos.

I appreciate your offer to return them, but I still have no place to hang them. You have enjoyed them for 10 years and now that you know “The Rest Of The Story” you may enjoy them more. Thanks, again for contacting me and it shows how small the world is getting when you remember how you found me.

Sincerely,

Harold Sharp

Pretty cool story, huh? It never amazes me what this internet can do.

Then the story takes another interesting turn when Chad writes Harold back two new emails.

Mr. Sharp, My goodness! I’m a pretty lucky fella on a few accounts then. The story of these fish is fantastic and I can tell you, I truly appreciate you sharing it with me. Who would have ever guessed!

I’m really kind-of speechless, though. I will say that I’ll clean these guys up and get them back to looking respectable again.

I told Mr. Battisti that I’d get them cleaned up and re-shoot them on a proper background, so I’ll send those over to you when I do.

Thanks again for sharing this story with me. It’s certainly a great one to know.

I’ll talk to you soon,

CS

Then I get an email from Harold that says, “This get more interesting everyday. My favorite guitar picker is Chet Atkins and has been since I was about 10 years old, I play his music everyday.”

He’s referring to another email he received from Chad.

Mr. Sharp, Well, I certainly have a good story to tell my buddies, I think you need a good one too.

We are currently renovating the majority of our house, that’s why the mounts are hanging in the garage downstairs. If you go back and look at the pictures I sent you, you’ll see some writing on the wall. My wife is the granddaughter of Chet Atkins, and your fish are hanging in his garage.

The writing on the wall, which very few people have ever seen, is a list of things he made sure to have when he went out on tour – hat, guitar, fiddle, capo, etc. The funniest thing on that list is his “partial,” which he evidently forgot once.

So there you go, now you’ve got something to tell your buddies. Your fish are hanging in Chet Atkins’ house.

All the best,

CS

I then received the following from Harold:

Today I received email from Chad Sawyer stating that his wife is Chet Atkins granddaughter and the photo he sent me of the bass were hanging on Chet’s wall. Chet Atkins was playing guitar on the Mid-Day Merry Go Round in Knoxville when I was about 10 years old. We listened to him every day at noon on the radio. He’s still my favorite guitar player, I have everything he ever recorded and listen to his music everyday.

I’m 85, started listening to Chet when I was about 10. I caught these bass in 1967 and 1968 – 45 years ago – and haven’t seen them in 25 years. Then a guy in Idaho, who I’ve never met, told me a guy in Nashville had my bass. He later tells me that the photos he sent of them show them hanging in Chet Atkins garage. Small world. True story.

It’s an amazing story.


  • http://www.bassfishingarchives.com Terry

    Harold, we really appreciate your stories and the history you have with the sport. Thanks for all your memories!

    Terry

  • Bill M

    Awesome story.

  • Bill Rice

    Another great story for the website!

  • Debby Kinary

    Hello my name is Debby Kinary,
    My grandfather was Frank McDougall. He lived in Memphis Tn. It is my understanding that he was one of the first members of the B.A.S.S. association. I am trying to find out more information about his fishing career, and also locate some pictures to share with my family. He fished a lot At Sardis, Miss. He also had a fishing guide service in the 70’s. My grandfather had polio as a child and always walked with a cane. So fishing was his passion because even with his handicap he was equal in a boat! Thank you for any help you could give me.