Let’s Look Back – Part 23

I've always felt richly blessed to have had opportunity to spend a little time with the beautiful couple you see here.  They are Forrest and Nina Wood, the founders of Ranger Boats. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

I’ve always felt richly blessed to have had opportunity to spend a little time with the beautiful couple you see here. They are Forrest and Nina Wood, the founders of Ranger Boats. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

In my previous Let’s Look Back column I had opportunity to share a few memories of a valued friend.  He’s one that has played a tremendous role in professional bass fishing almost since it the day started.

If you read that column you know the man I wrote about was Forrest Wood, the founder of Ranger Boats and one of the most respected men you’ll ever find in this business of bass fishing for bucks.

That previous column just detailed one of my memories where Forrest is concerned.  There are many others and I’d like to share a couple more this time around.

Both of these friends could tell you tales about every darn one of those lures in that tackle box they're looking at.  That's the late Homer Circle on the left and Forrest Wood, the founder of Ranger Boats. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Both of these friends could tell you tales about every darn one of those lures in that tackle box they’re looking at. That’s the late Homer Circle on the left and Forrest Wood, the founder of Ranger Boats. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

How did Forrest Wood ever start on the trail to becoming the nationally known figure he is today?  One of the reasons is easy to find.  Old timers to this business of professional bass fishing will likely remember that Forrest was once a fishing guide himself.  Who better to know a bass angler’s needs where boats are concerned than a guy who is making the bucks to buy his beans using one?

Some years after the Bassmasters Classic really got going and I’d gotten to know Forrest, I got the go ahead from one of the magazines I was writing for regularly at the time to do a story about him.

The two of us made arrangements to get away together for a few hours during one of the Classics.  I got the story details I was after and also had a chance to shoot the pictures I needed.

Forrest Wood hammered the bass with this chrome finished Zara Spook during a tournament once on Nevada's Lake Mead.  He gave this lure to me.  No bass will ever take off with it because I ain't fixin' to give 'em a chance!  It's safely tucked away in my special bass fishing memory box. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Forrest Wood hammered the bass with this chrome finished Zara Spook during a tournament once on Nevada’s Lake Mead. He gave this lure to me. No bass will ever take off with it because I ain’t fixin’ to give ’em a chance! It’s safely tucked away in my special bass fishing memory box. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

In the course of our conversation Forrest mentioned an experience he’d had once during a tournament at Lake Mead.  He and his partner had found the bass surface feeding out in open water way out from the shoreline that most anglers had been pounding.

“We made long casts with Zara Spooks,” he said.  “The bass busted those surface lures when we started ‘walking ‘em’ back to the boat.”

I’d fished Lake Mead several times myself.  I was curious what specific Spooks Forrest had been using.  I asked him.  Instead of answering immediately, he reached down into his tackle box and picked one out to show me.

“Here,” he said, “is the one I was throwing.”  Then he handed it to me.  The lure was a solid chrome finish from nose to tail.

I had told Forrest earlier I was going to Lake Mead myself in a few weeks.  “I’ve got some Spooks,” I said, “but nothing that’s got a finish like this chrome job.  I’ll have to try to find one before I get back out there.”

Then I handed the lure back to him.  “No,” he said, “that won’t be necessary,”  “just keep this one – it’s yours.  Try throwing it way out there if you see surface activity of any kind.  That’s what worked for us.”

Forrest Wood, the founder of Ranger Boats was himself a former fishing guide.  He told me how he and his partner once found the bass feeding out in the open water like he was fishing here when I shot this picture. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Forrest Wood, the founder of Ranger Boats was himself a former fishing guide. He told me how he and his partner once found the bass feeding out in the open water like he was fishing here when I shot this picture. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

If you think that Spook Forrest gave me was the first lure I threw when I finally did get to Lake Mead you’d be wrong.  I didn’t, in fact, even take it with me.  I did get a couple of my own chrome Spooks, but that one Forrest gave me went into a special box where I keep a few other lures that have left memories that mean more to me than a boat full of bass.  Ain’t no bass ever gonna take Forrest’s Spook away from me because I’m not fixin’ to give one a chance!

I could tell other tales of the memories I have of Forrest Wood.  None of them would be complete without mentioning that in getting to know him I’ve also got to get to know his wife, Nina.  Over the years I’ve had a chance to spend a little time with both of them.

The love, respect and companionship you get to see the two of them share is about as it good as it gets.  Having had the wondrous good fortune to share the love of my own wife for the past 70 years makes what I see in Forrest and Nina all the more meaningful.

I only missed attending two of the first 30 Bassmaster Classics.  I’m very much aware that Forrest and his boats played a tremendous role in the building of interest in that event as well as bass fishing in general.  How many men can you name, for example, who are recognized by just their initials?  It only happens primarily with a few presidents, right?

Well, if you know your bass fishing from your tailpipe you sure as heck also know what “FLW” stands for.  As professional bassin’ men certainly are aware, today what many consider the best tournament circuit in the whole country – the FLW – stands for my friend Forrest L. Wood.

As I said in the beginning of my previous column, I’m convinced everything of any real importance eventually boils down to people.  If you aren’t already aware of that now you will be on down the line.  It’s why that recent phone call I had from Forrest a while back made it so very plain to me once again.

Forrest and Nina Wood are right up front in the lineup of those who have had such an impact on yours truly over the wondrous trail God has given me to travel now for the better part of a century.

What you’ve just read doesn’t do these special friends full justice. It does, however, provide satisfaction in having decided to call this column “Let’s Look Back” when Terry Battisti, this website’s founder, asked me to do it.

  • Harold Sharp

    Forrest and Nina, no two people contributed more to help get Professional Bass Fishing up and running. Ranger Boats played a big part in the early days but that was because Forrest and Nina were there, they helped so many struggling young anglers get a start on the tournament circuit. I’m sure that several days Forrest would have rather been some place else than in the hot sun looking for another bite, but he was always at the BASS Tournaments, as a contestant, sweating it out with everyone else and Nina was always in the front row at weigh-ins. Long live Forrest and Nina.

  • Stan Fagerstrom

    Dear Harold:
    Thank you, Harold, for adding those kind words. You called it just like it was. There were others there too in the early days, my friend, and you were another of them. Always there, always willing to help and I’ll never forget you for it.
    Stan