The more you think you know as you’re learning about bass fishing the more likely you are to get your butt kicked.
And way back when I was still spending time picking at backlashes I thought I knew a hell of a lot more than I think I know now.
In my previous column I told how a kid I’d encountered on one of the Columbia River sloughs in Southwest Washington administered one of the first of those butt kickings I’ve mentioned. It’s easy to recall a similar instance that had just as much impact – maybe more.
A guy named Larry Peeples was my friend. Just saying that doesn’t really begin to tell the story. I started work for The Daily News in Longview, Washington in May of 1946 right after I got out of Madigan Hospital at Ft. Lewis. I’d wound up in the hospital after having served for almost two years in an infantry rifle company out in the South Pacific during World War II.
Larry came to work for the same newspaper some time later. Larry had also spent more than his share of time in the jungles of the South Pacific during the war. Larry had been in the Marines.
Larry was one of the guys who served with Carlson’s Raiders. If you know anything about World War II history and the savage fighting in the South Pacific, you’ve heard about Colonel Evans Carlson’s famed Marine Raiders. Larry was with them all the way.
He was along on the 100-day patrol Carlson’s unit spent behind the Japanese lines during the battle for Guadalcanal. He was also there when the Raiders made their surprise attack on Makin Island. He wound up on Iwo Jima.
Undoubtedly our experiences during the war laid the foundation for the close friendship we shared. It came to mean a great deal to me. It’s sometimes a tad difficult to get into the details of combat experiences with someone who hasn’t been there and done that. Be assured Larry sure as hell had.
Our wartime experiences surfaced sooner or later every time we had a chance to share a beer or two. Something else that surfaced almost as often was our mutual love of fishing. But here there was a difference. Larry loved trout fishing. I was a bassin’ man all the way.
Our work stations at the newspaper were in different parts of the building. I had to go through the newsroom where Larry was stationed to reach certain other areas of the building. Larry had a greeting for me whenever he saw me coming. I still have to laugh when I recall how his greeting got some unexpected attention.
Larry’s greeting to me was always the same. Whenever he saw me coming he’d simply shout “Here comes that old Basser.”
The newspaper had recently hired a sweet older lady who was assigned a desk not far from Larry’s. She’d only been there for a couple of weeks when she went to the publisher with a complaint. Larry and I found out what that complaint was when the boss called us into his office.
“I know you guys are good friends,” the boss said, “but for heaven’s sake watch your language. That new lady we hired a few weeks ago is complaining about it. She tells me that every time Larry sees Stan coming through the newsroom he shouts – ‘Here comes that old bastard!’
“The new gal,” the boss said, “doesn’t think Larry should be saying things like that and I’m inclined to agree with her.” We explained what Larry was really saying and all was well.
As I’ve mentioned, the respective merits of bass fishing compared to angling for trout seemed to surface eventually every time we got together. Larry knew I was doing most of my bass fishing at those Columbia River log ponds I mentioned in my previous column.
The two of us got together for coffee one afternoon when the day’s paper was out. I told Larry how I had taken a couple of good bass on a trip to the slough the previous evening. “How about me coming along with you one of these days?” he asked.
“Sure,” I replied. “I’d welcome the chance to show you what it takes to catch real fish for a change. If I can teach you how to catch a bass or two you’ll no longer want to fool around with those stupid trout.”
We made plans to head for the slough we called the “outside log pond” after work a couple of days later. Was my expertise in the bass fishing field at the time sufficient to teach Larry something about bass fishing?
Stay tuned. I’ll share what happened in my next Let’s Look Back column.
To Be Continued