• Tom Billings

Fishing Evolution

Many of us have similar stories when it comes to the memory of that first bass that hooked us on fishing or that special place that we went to that triggered our fishing evolution. These events were the trigger that caused a mutation in our bodies to obsess over weather patterns, new baits and fishing destinations. For me, I can vividly remember the first bass I caught at 6 years old. I was fishing with my Dad in a local lake. That big red and white bopper floating on a classy slick layer of water. The thrill of the fight as the 3 lb. bucket mouth jumped and leaped to free its self from the #6 hook secured to the roof of his mouth. I can still see my Dad standing in front of me gentle hand pulling the line as I reeled because the 202 didn’t have the ass to winch the beast to our grasp. The picture of that happy little boy dressed in bib overhauls, sporting a crew cut, displaying the metal stinger’ d bass still holds a place in my Mom’s picture framed memories.


I can also remember the first real fishing trip that I took. This event would launch in me the desire to find and conquer many new fishing destinations. It was 8th grade and I would often walk to school. On my way to school there was a couple of swampy retention ponds so I did what any red blooded American boy would do…fish. This would more than a few times make me late for school (stupid water in my best Homer Simpson impersonation). Luckily, I had a wonderful first hour English teacher whose name was Mrs. Mitchell, she was a great lady and never sent me to the office (many of my other teachers didn’t share her same understanding…stupid teachers). As the year went on Mrs. Mitchell would let me keep my rod and tackle box in her class room until after school. After several months she said to me “boy you really like to fish don’t you”. Just so happens that Mrs. Mitchell and her family spent the summers in the North Woods of Wisconsin and seeing my complete addition for fishing asked me if I would like to go to Wisconsin with her family to fish. Of course I jumped at that opportunity and what an experience. This was the first place I had ever fished where it was really easy to catch fish. That trip hooked me even further and really started a love affair with the North Woods. One that continues to this day with my own family.

As I have become older and more thoughtful (many of you just threw up a little) the people and experiences that have shaped me have become special. No matter what road I have traveled in my life the love of the outdoors, whether it be fishing or hunting, have kept me grounded. Maybe even saved my life at times. It’s really the only reason why I tried so hard to succeed. I’ve always wanted a better gun or a better fishing equipment. My wife bribed me to take a job offer I didn’t really want with “If you take that job you can get a bass boat” Well that was almost 20 years ago and I’m still in the same industry.


I’m sure that the people mentioned had no idea how much they would shape my life by taking me fishing. There have been so many more as well in my life that have mentored my outdoor passions; to many to share. We often hear the phrase “take a kid fishing” but what we are really saying is “help make a positive impact in someone’s life”. It’s not easy to sacrifices time and untangle lines, but maybe someday a person will think back to the trigger that caused a genetic mutation of obsessed outdoor love and you will be that trigger. That my friends is a great compliment.

Be Positive Be Prepared Be Successful….

Tom Billings


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