Let’s Look Back – Part 17

I treasure the opportunity I had to have Jason Lucas as a personal friend.  Evidence of that can be found in the many letters he sent me.  I'm holding some of them here.

I treasure the opportunity I had to have Jason Lucas as a personal friend. Evidence of that can be found in the many letters he sent me. I’m holding some of them here.

It didn’t surprise me all that much when I got a question about my comments regarding Jason Lucas that appeared in my last Let’s Look Back column.

I wasn’t surprised, I suppose, because it’s something I’ve heard several times before.  This time a reader’s comment went like this: “If Jason Lucas was a personal friend of yours you surely must have fished with him a few times.  Was he as good as his Sports Afield columns and articles made him out to be?”

Jason Lucas was indeed a personal friend.  What’s more and as I’ve already shared, I’ve got his letters to prove it.  Be that as it may, I never got to fish with him.

How come?  Because, you see, as far as I know Jason never fished with anybody.  He made that clear in his Sports Afield writing.  He had also made it clear to me before he and his wife ever joined my wife and me when he came to visit us when we were still living in Washington State.

Anyone who questions what I’m saying might want to take a close look at the actual copy of a portion of a letter that Lucas sent me early on in our relationship that I’ve included here.  What you see was in the second letter of the many he was eventually to write.  He obviously was making darn sure I didn’t make any plans that included sharing a boat with him.

Jason Lucas played a lone hand in his bass fishing.  Note the illustration here of a paragraph from one of the letters he sent me early on in our relationship.  He makes his sentiments about being a loner very plain.

Jason Lucas played a lone hand in his bass fishing. Note the illustration here of a paragraph from one of the letters he sent me early on in our relationship. He makes his sentiments about being a loner very plain.

Jason’s keen interest in bass fishing was undoubtedly one of the primary reasons he responded as he did when I had invited him to sample Pacific Northwest bass fishing.  He was well aware that back in the middle of the last century bass fishing wasn’t getting all that much attention in states like Oregon or Washington.

For that matter, when Jason first came on the national outdoor writing scene, bass fishing wasn’t getting that much attention period.  What the national magazines were featuring one month after another was usually trout or some of the other species of game fish.  When attention was focused on the Pacific Northwest, the writing darn near always involved salmon, trout or steelhead.

All that began to change when Jason came on the scene.  I read with keen interest a piece Ken Duke did for Bassmaster.com back in April of 2009.  Ken’s excellent story pointed out that while Lucas came from England he was a bass fisherman all the way.

As Ken pointed also out, there was an immediate response to the information Lucas provided.  Evidently there were then thousands of us who were interested in bass fishing but starving for information on tackle and tactics we could use to improve our own fishing prospects.

Jason told me, once I got to know him, that he didn’t get into the Pacific Northwest often but when he did it was to spend the time he had learning about migratory fishes like salmon and steelhead.  Though his personal interest was in bass, he was the Sports Afield fishing editor.  He had to cover all aspects of the sports fishing scene.

He was pleased that I was endeavoring to help him get a better handle on bass fishing in the land of steelhead and salmon.  That was the main reason he eventually came to spend some time with us.  At the time I was writing outdoor columns for The Daily News in Longview, Washington.

We spent a good bit of the time we shared talking about the bass fishing prospects that I was aware of in our area of Washington and Oregon.  Even so, after his visit with us he wrote in one of his Sports Afield fishing columns that Longview, Washington was a place where a steelhead angler might be able to go out and catch a limit of these migratory beauties on his noon hour.

During the decades I knew him, Jason often spent the winter months close to or right on a bass fishing lake that offered year around fishing opportunities.  When we first started corresponding he was spending his winters near big Lake Mead.  In the middle of the 1900s, the period I’m talking about, Lake Mead was something else.  Lucas regarded Mead one of the best bass lakes in the United States.

I got to fish Lake Mead myself for the first time in 1953.  My personal experience there served to confirm every darn thing Jason had told me about it.  My companion and I took 35 bass the first time I got to fish it and we had a bunch of dinner plate sized crappie to go along with the bass.

But that’s another story and one I’ll be telling you more about in future Let’s Look Back columns.

As was his custom, Jason did his Lake Mead fishing all by himself.  The boat he used was easy to row and light in weight.  This, of course, was well before electric motors replaced oars.  The boat he used on that big and windy impoundment was a Penn Yan equipped with a 15 h.p. Evinrude.

If you’ve spent much time on Lake Mead you know that big lake can get mean and rough.  It’s no place to be in a lightweight rig with very little freeboard.  I’ll tell you how Lucas got around some of these problems in my next column.  I’ll also have more to say as to why he insisted on playing a lone hand in his quest for bass.

  • Wonderful story, Stan — as always. Thank you!

  • Thank you for this – Jason Lucas was my ideal for a bass fisherman – I read his articles with rapt attention as a youngster who could not afford anything but hook and line on a willow branch. His book covers, along with practical information, the ethics of fishing as he perceived them. He would be an anachronism in todays tournament fueled bass world –
    Jason Lucas on fishing and Jack O’Connor on hunting formed much of my approach to the respective sports. It was a time of less volume, less commercialization and, in my opinion, perhaps a bit more substance.

    • Stan Fagerstrom

      Captain Bosley:
      Thank you for your interest. Your comments about your beginning as a fisherman are so familiar. My first 12 years were spent on a tiny wheat farm in North Dakota. My first fish was a small bullhead catfish. My Dad hung a line to a willow branch and gave it to me to use as a rod. My hook was a bent safety pin with a grasshopper for bait. I loved it! My poor folks worked their collective hearts off for 19 years but lost everything during the Great Depression.
      Jason Lucas was a special kind of guy. I feel so fortunate just to have spent some time with him.
      Stan