Editor’s Note: Having spent a lot of the recent past talking with Stan Fagerstrom about his life and career in the fishing industry – a career that spans over 60 years, I asked Stan if he would be interested in sharing some of his experiences over that time with our readers. I am happy to say that he welcomed the invite with open arms and will now be sharing some of his experiences here in his new column, Let’s Look Back. We hope you enjoy what Stan has to share.
I’ve been fishing for bass and writing about it since shortly after President Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg address.
Well, that’s exaggerating things a bit but by golly there aren’t many out there who have been fishing and writing about it as long as yours truly. I expect that’s why my friend Terry Battisti, the guy responsible for creating this wondrous website, had a suggestion the last time we talked.
“Stan,” Terry said, “Now that Homer Circle has left us I expect you’re probably the oldest of the writers still around and still writing who’ve always concentrated on bass. Would you consider sharing a tale or two regarding some of the things you’ve experienced along the way?”
Terry didn’t have to ask twice for a couple of reasons. One of those reasons is the deep respect I have for Terry and what he is endeavoring to do for bass fishing through this website. My guess is that one day a whole bunch of folks who fish will come to fully appreciate the impact Bass Fishing Archives is going to have.
Another reason is because I feel so deeply blessed for having had a chance to make a make a living doing something I love as much as I do fishin’ and writing about it. Not everybody has that opportunity.
Terry also thought I might get a kick out of telling about certain of the things I experienced way back in the early days of trying to learn how to bamboozle bass. He’s right. Nothing is really worth much unless it can be shared with others. And just maybe my telling about some of what I’ve experienced might help newcomers to bassin’ avoid screwing up as often as I did.
Hang around this business of fishing and writing long enough and you’re a cinch to eventually learn to love some aspects of it and feel the opposite about others. I’ve agreed to share a few thoughts in this regard and that’s why I picked “Let’s Look Back” as the name for my efforts.
You’ll have to forgive me if now and then I mention something you may have seen me write about before. But if I’m to come up with anything that’s calculated to especially help the guy just getting into bass fishing that’s bound to happen.
One of the places where I cut my bass fishing bicuspids was along the often log filled sloughs the big Columbia River backs up between Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon. My home for a good many years was in Longview, Washington. Longview is about 50 miles down the Columbia below Portland, Oregon.
Bass fishing wasn’t getting much attention when I first arrived there as a 12 year old from North Dakota. Why? Because when I got there in the mid-1930s there were still big runs of salmon, steelhead and sea run cutthroat trout in rivers of that area. It was those fish that grabbed the attention of by far the majority of anglers.
Southwest Washington has some of the best steelhead and salmon water in the Pacific Northwest. I was as interested as the next one in the migratory beauties that used these rivers but for reasons I still can’t completely explain today exactly why those darn bass already had me hooked.
It happened, I think, when I first learned to read. I’d managed to come up with a beat up old outdoor magazine while I was still in North Dakota that talked about fishing lures for largemouth. The article detailed how those big-mouthed battlers would come busting up to smash an artificial lure that startled and almost scared you with its fury.
Longview wasn’t very big city when I first arrived. Smack in the middle of the place was a beautiful lake that curved through part of the town. Its name was Lake Sacajawea. It contained gobs of carp as well as a scattering of bass and panfish.
I actually managed to catch my first bass from Lake Sacajawea on a spinner and a hunk of pork I’d carved myself from a slab of bacon my mother had discarded. Though I treasured that one pounder from the lake it soon became apparent that bass were few and far between and hard to come by at this easy-to-reach lake.
Every now and then I’d manage to hear somebody talking about bass. Darn near all of what I heard involved men who had come to the Pacific Northwest from the southern states. The nearby Columbia River sloughs always figured prominently in what they were saying about bass fishing.
It was my early experiences on those sloughs that led to my getting “Lesson Number One” in the field of bass fishing. I figure that lesson is just as important today as it was then. Stay tuned. I’ll share what that lesson revealed in my next “Let’s Look Back” column here at the Bass Fishing Archives.
-To Be Continued-