Let’s Look Back: I was among the first to get “hooked” – Part 1

For years now Gamakatsu has had some of the world's top bass fishing professionals helping with its hook design and refinement. Aaron Martens, a past winner of the Bassmasters Classic, is one of them. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

For years now, Gamakatsu has had some of the world’s top bass fishing professionals helping with its hook design and refinement. Aaron Martens, a past Bassmaster Angler of the Year winner, is one of them. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

I’m one of the luckiest old backlash picker-outers west of the Mississippi River – maybe east of the big river too.

If you’ve read my “Let’s Look Back” columns in the past you’re aware I’ve touched on this before in doing these columns.  Having been writing about fishing since shortly after the fall of the Roman Empire is one of the reasons I talk about being as fortunate as I have been.

Another, and it’s one of the reasons I welcomed the chance to do these columns when given opportunity to do them. Writing a column with the heading “Let’s Look Back” you see, gives me a chance to look back over my shoulder and write about some of the wondrous experiences I’ve had a chance to be in on.

I found that bit of proof surfacing when I was asked to do a column about some of the changes I’ve seen in fishing tackle in the many, many years I’ve been up to my ears in the sport, both as an angler and in writing about it.

I’ve done a whole lot of fishing alone.  Living right on a darn good lake as I did for years with my bass boat about 60-feet from our front door made that easy.  All I had to do was grab my gear and go.  There was no waiting for anyone, no debate over where on the lake to fish, when to go, when to stop, etc., etc.

And equally important, the lake where I lived was just minutes away from some of the best steelhead fishing in the Pacific Northwest.  There weren’t many winter weeks while I lived there that I wasn’t up to my cold butt fishing one river or another.

If you've ever found yourself wondering if the kind of special hook you wanted was available---here's a great place to look for the answers. This is the new Gamakatsu Hooks catalog for 2017. Its 79 pages are loaded with hooks you'll recognize and others you've probably not heard of. You aren't going to regret getting a copy of it yourself. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering if the kind of special hook you wanted was available—here’s a great place to look for the answers. This is the new Gamakatsu Hooks catalog for 2017. Its 79 pages are loaded with hooks you’ll recognize and others you’ve probably not heard of. You aren’t going to regret getting a copy of it yourself. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

The names of some of the best fishing friends I’ve ever had surfaced immediately when I got that request asking me to do that to do a column that included details about some of the tackle changes I’ve seen.  Some of my friends that did share a boat with me on occasions also witnessed some of these tackle changing events.

My first fishing experience came a long, long time ago.  Believe it not, it’s not all that far from being a full century ago.  The first fish I ever caught was a little bullhead catfish that grabbed the grasshopper I was using for bait.  I was about six years old at the time.

The fish came from a lazy little creek not far from the small North Dakota wheat farm where my folks were trying to eke out a living way back early in the last century.

The grasshopper that little bullhead grabbed was impaled on a bent safety pin my father had fashioned into a hook. My folks couldn’t afford much of anything other than the bare basic essentials as they attempted to make a living on a small North Dakota wheat farm.

Hooks were one of the tackle item subjects I decided to first write about in detailing some of the changes I’d seen.   To me that made nothing but good sense.  Nothing is more basic or more important when it comes to putting fish in the boat than the hook you have at the end of the line.

Top Gamakatsu executives here in the USA are just as interested in using the products they bring to market as you and I are. Pictured is Joe Quiocho, of Gamakatsu's headquarters in Tacoma, Washington. Joe is shown with a beautiful salmon he caught on one of Gamakatsu's barbless hooks. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Top Gamakatsu executives here in the USA are just as interested in using the products they bring to market as you and I are. Pictured is Joe Quiocho, of Gamakatsu’s headquarters in Tacoma, Washington. Joe is shown with a beautiful salmon he caught on one of Gamakatsu’s barbless hooks. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Actually, the biggest single change I’ve ever seen in the production of hooks wasn’t as far back as you might expect.  As far as I’m concerned it came about when some brand new hooks were brought into the United States for the first time.

There had been other changes since I’d used that safety pin hook, of course, but 1983 was when hooks bearing the name “Gamakatsu” first came onto the angling scene here in the United States.  As far as I’m concerned that was and is the most significant and meaningful hook change I’ve ever seen.

Something else that brought this to mind was the arrival of the brand new 2017 Gamakatsu product catalog.  It’s a beauty and really lets you eyeball up close and careful the tremendous array and variety of hooks that the world’s leading hook producer is now making available.

There’s another reason why writing about Gamakatsu Hooks is important to me.  I was, you see, one of the anglers selected by the man who was considering bringing these hooks to market before it actually happened.

Keep an eye out for my next column.  I’ll provide the details of what happened in my testing and the eventual results.

  • Andy Williamson

    Good article, Stan. I love to reminisce, and just got done re-reading your great article in the Mar/Apr 1976 issue of BASSMASTER on the Music Row Stringbusters Bass Club from Nashville.
    One correction on the above article, however– Aaron Martens has NEVER won the Bassmaster Classic.