By Steve Graf
Over the years I‘ve had the honor and the privilege to fish with some great anglers. Even though I think of myself as a pretty good angler, there’s probably never been a single person that’s gotten into my boat that I did not learn something from. Bass fishing is a sport where you never stop learning. New baits and techniques are developed every single year. Someone is always pushing the limits and trying to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. But today, we’ll look at a connection I’ve made over the years and the impact he had on me as an angler and as a person.
My competitive fishing career started out with a former softball teammate of mine who asked me to fish a team tournament on Lake Bistineau in the Spring of 1990. Now, this was at a time when I was looking for something that would fill my competitive desires that I had during my playing days as a minor league baseball and football player. Like all athletes, the day comes when you realize that your playing days are over. I needed and was looking for something that would fill that void in my life. Lake Bistineau legend, Randy Farrar, is the guy responsible for the exorbitant amount of money I have invested in bass fishing! He’s the reason I’ve been a major donor with entry fees to fishing organizations all across the country. He’s the reason I have a fishing man cave second to no one! His invitation to fish a team tournament back in March of 1990 was the match that lit the fuse. He’s the one to blame for my bass-fishing obsession!
All great anglers have had that one person who has taken them under their wing at some point and taught them the basics of how to catch bass. Not all great anglers are born with fishing instincts like Kevin Van Dam, bass fishing’s greatest professional angler of all time. Randy was that angler for me who taught me how to fish a jig, tweak a spinnerbait and understand the technique of pitching and flipping. To this day, he still possesses a wealth of knowledge and always thinks outside the box on why and how bass reacts to certain baits and techniques.
Even though we don’t fish as team partners much anymore, I still call on him from time to time to talk bass fishing. But there’s something even more important…he became one of my closest friends. We’ve shared some good times and some tough times together in both victory and defeat. Nothing brings people together more than spending a full day together in a bass boat. You learn who they are and what makes them tick while sharing stories of the past, some true and some totally made up…but who cares, it’s always great entertainment.
This relationship started out as teammates on a men’s travel softball team sponsored by Home Depot. The ’80s and ’90s were a time when men’s travel softball was huge. We traveled all over the South winning championships that included two World Championships. Randy was considered one of the best Shreveport/Bossier third basemen to ever play. He was a tremendous defensive player but could also spray the ball all over the field with his bat. He was a great team player who cared nothing about accolades but just wanted the team to win.
But it was during our time in a bass boat that we formed a tight bond that still exists today. Days and hours on in, we scouted preparing for our next event. Now some of these trips had a hiccup or two but that’s what happens when two competitive anglers get into the same boat. We’ve laughed to the point of almost falling overboard! Several times our agility in a bass boat, or the lack of it, was on full display, but no one ever really got hurt other than maybe their ego.
It’s true, we did not always agree on where we should fish or what we should be doing to catch bass. Team fishing is like a marriage, you don’t always get along. But one thing was clear when the dust settled, we both had the same competitive goal….to win!!! While we won our share of events and fished well together, it wasn’t the wins or high finishes that made it fun. It was the connection we had as friends that made every trip special.
Time is a funny thing. The times you share with anyone doing something you both love are always special. Good fishing partners are hard to find and not all teammates end up being great friends. In some cases, it can lead to the opposite…enemies forever. Team partners can come and go, but true friendship will last a lifetime. Till next time, good luck, good fishing, and don’t forget your sunscreen and regular visits to your dermatologist because Melanoma does not discriminate.
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