Just an Average Fisherman
Run after the dream of becoming more than just an average fisherman
by: Johnny Wimberly (JED)
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As a young man (probably around the age of eight) I distinctly remember fishing a lake shore in Wyoming. I saw an elderly man in a small fishing boat catching something as I sat waiting for my turn. He came ashore and asked my father if I might want to join him as the browns were biting pretty. My heart start thumping in my chest with excitement as we headed out in the boat, and this gentleman began telling me how many years ago a fella' taught him to fish, and simply asked him to one day repay the favor by teaching someone else.
He proceeded to show me the lures we would be using, and the proper way to put them out to troll. As we began to troll along, he asked me if I might want to drive the boat. With a grin from ear to ear I replied "yes, but I will probably mess up", and he said "WHEN you do, we will figure out what you did wrong and learn from there"........and this is truly where it all began.
Years later, at the age of 25 a friend and I decided to buy a boat together. It was a 1965 Glastron with a 1955 Johnson motor. That boat was the biggest piece of junk on the water, but it was mine and I truly think this was probably the first time I had fished in a boat since that day in Wyoming so many years ago. Because we were so used to shore fishing, we would put a hook, weight and worm and throw it out, and wait, and wait…... and wait and wait.... and wait and wait. We had no fish finder, no GPS, and no extras.
Sometimes we trolled along, no real clue as to the speed, but a lot faster than I would now-a-days… I don't remember us catching many fish in those days, but I do remember loving the thrill of fishing. I also remember many days when we would head into shore thinking that there were no fish in this lake, only to get to the dock and see other boats with many fish.
We would think, "What is wrong with us? Are the fish gods mad at us, or what?" At some point we quit fishing from the boat, and started shore fishing places where we knew we had caught fish before. After that, the boat sat for many seasons and it was finally sold and the dream of boat fishing was shelved.
In early 2006, with a lot of help from my wife and my daughter, we started our custom canvas business, "JED's Custom Services" (Johnny, Emily and Dana). By doing custom canvas projects we were constantly meeting many fishermen, and these customers were not afraid at all of giving out helpful hints and techniques. I started thinking about what that man at the Wyoming Lake said so many years before. Should I try again, should I start to boat fish again, should I own a boat, should I rent a boat, should I get out in that water once again? I was antsy to try and Dana knew it. She asked her father if we might borrow his boat, as it had sat in his yard for a number of years. As an added incentive to let us borrow it, we promised that when we gave it back, it would have lots of new canvas. That boat was well used that first season, and many days I headed to Chatfield in hopes of landing big fish.
One day I googled "fishing, Chatfield", and, Fish Explorer.com came up… I joined the site, thinking as long as it is free, I might as well try it. There was no way I was going to pay for fishing tips! (of course three months after joining I became a + member) As a new member I asked lots of questions and sometimes got good answers. I began to have a much better catch rate, yet I still could not consistently catch fish. Why were so many of these fishermen on this site catching fish, but I continued to struggle? They must just be real lucky. I really envied all the editors and guides who seemed to have no struggles.
In desperation I began to email Nate with Tightline Outfitters. I picked him because he was the closest to my area. He kept telling me to use Tasmanian Devils at Chatty. Of course I did not have any so I ignored the advice and kept doing it my way, to no avail. One day out of the blue, Nate called my shop and asked how the fishing had been going, I replied that it stunk, and I was ready to give up. "Johnny, if you go get some Tas's, you will catch trout at Chatty", "So, if you're asking for my advice you need to listen and do it." Okay, I am sick of getting skunked, so I went and bought every Tas I could find.
I spent the next 10 days hammering the trout at Chatty, some days catching as many as 10-15 per day, and as many of you might know, for Chatty that is awesome. I decided then and there that if Nate's tips worked, then I was going to start asking questions and doing whatever I was told. I can't even begin to guess how many people I am truly indebted to.
I was introduced to tube jigging for bass by "Big Bassa", and as usual my daughter, Emily accompanied us that day and caught the biggest fish. hooking up with "Bass Commando" I learned a little about bottom bouncing for Saugeye (caught my first one ever with him) at Bear Creek. Met "Fishaholic" at Granby and learned some trolling tricks. I met Mark403 and his lovely wife at Tarryall (a place you could find us on many weekends), and I am proud to say that I may have gotten them really thinking about buying a boat, Mark also caught his first Pike in a boat with me.
Deadhead Dave and I met at the river up in "Collins" where I got a quick lesson in fly fishing; I caught my first trout on a fly. I was able to meet up with our fine State Editor Dave Coulson to go after white bass in float tubes (that trip will go down as one of my favorites) while fly fishing. "Fish" and I hung out fly fishing with strike indicators, and of course that day my daughter caught the biggest fish as well. Bill92042 and I have gone out a number of times; including Antero where we caught some really nice fish. I have been to Chatty with Danny a number of times, my favorite being night fishing for eyes, where Danny caught a 23" 4lb eye, his biggest (I have yet caught a keeper). Goosebuster and I hit up the bass at Chatty as well. This is far from an exhaustive list of people that have helped me in my pursuit of this Sport I treasure so much.
Now, I know that many of you will attest to the thrill of taking people out fishing and watching them catch their first fish, biggest fish etc., is truly an awesome experience. I remember hooking up with Deadhead Dave and his son at Boyd. That young man caught a really nice perch, and even better his dad had never caught one, so he was ecstatic that he beat his dad at his first perch. Or taking my Uncle Tom out to Cherry Creek and watching him (with envy) catch his biggest walleye in Colorado at 33.5 inch and 14 lb and even convinced him to release it. Or my good buddy Lonnie.... he'd been skunked the last ten trips to chatty, and being that I was catching lots of them at the time, I talked him into taking the rest of the day off from work and meeting up. He caught two back to back three lb trout at Chatty. That made his day, and it sure made mine even better…
Now two years later I can say that I am still "just an average fisherman", but now I have better tools and techniques that I can implement to become a good fisherman. I also know a whole bunch of people that are just like me, and together we can learn. Fish Explorer is about learning, and, also, teaching others what someone so unselfishly has taught us. It's about "paying it forward" that I learned so many years ago from a nice elderly gentleman in Wyoming.
So as Chad LaChance often says "FISH BIG". Run after the dream of becoming more than just an average fisherman, and be willing to meet up with strangers and cement long lasting bonds. Take a kid fishing, just like the fella' did for me in Wyoming so many years ago!!!!
I look forward to meeting many more fishers in the future. To all those who have helped me to date and whose company I've enjoyed, I say thanks.
© 2013 Johnny Wimberly (JED)
Johnny "JED" Wimberly is a longtim Fish Explorer member and supporter. He lives in Denver and runs "JED's Custom Services," a business focused on high quality affordable custom boat covers, repair, and other canvas products. Visit www.jedscustomservices.com for more information. Johhny can be reached by phone at 720-283-6464.