Dave Gliebe: Legends of the Sport

Reproduced with the exclusive permission of Gary Yamamoto’s Inside Line magazine.

If you’re not familiar with the name Dave Gliebe, you should be. The California native has made three trips to the BASS Masters Classic, and won 45 boats, two trucks and a Cadillac!

NaCl - Dave, how did you get started in fishing, bass fishing, or just fishing in general?

Dave - I got started when my father took me striper fishing on the Sacramento River. I believe I caught a catfish. I liked it, so I went to the ponds at William Land Park and Southside Lake in Sacramento where we lived. I fished for carp, but I kept a little tiny stick with a bobber to catch bluegill while I was waiting for a carp to bite. I used a dough-ball for bait, and I could read the carp real well, just look for bubbles where they were rooting, and throw the dough-ball over there. I used to catch about 27 carp every day, all different sizes, and lots of bluegill. Even when it rained I’d get my mother to drive me to William Land Park. I stayed all day, every day, when I wasn’t in school. I just went nuts over fishing.

NaCl – How old were you?

Dave - From eight years old until about 13. At Southside Lake they had a derby a couple of times a year - I won it every time because I’d throw out a dough-ball and catch a giant carp or catfish. The other kids were fishing with worms and catching little bluegills. I won a fly-tying kit at one of those and this man showed me how to tie flies, so I eventually got into fly-fishing. But before that I was going to the American River on my bicycle, again, every day I didn’t go to school. I’d wade the river and try to read the ripples. I caught hundreds of steelhead and I never used over 4-lb test line. Most of the time when I fished for fish other than carp I used 1_-pound test. I was an ultra-lite fisherman!

But I got bored, the fishing was so easy with spinning tackle, so I started fly fishing, building my own rods, and teaching fly-casting. I caught everything that swims in fresh water on flies except sturgeon. Until 1971 it was strictly fly-fishing. I moved to Stockton when I was 17, went to work for Cal Trans as an engineer and draftsman, and worked there 15 years. There I ran into Dick Gaumer , an outdoor writer and bass fisherman. I was fly fishing for stripers; he was a fly-rod popper fisherman, fishing out of inner-tubes in L.A. He’d just moved to Stockton, was getting a bass boat, wanted to know about the lakes, and invited me to go fishing.

Our first trip was to Lake Comanche, but not before we stopped by his house where he opened his closet and I was in awe of all the rods, reels (baitcasting mostly), and bass fishing tackle - it was mind-boggling. I was about 21 at the time. So we went fishing and he caught an 8-pounder on a black and yellow Hellbender, the only fish we caught that day. The next weekend we went to Lake Hogan, to the upper cove with the trees in it and he threw this Haddock purple-vinyl jig at an oak tree, got a bite, and (not like we do now) he dropped his rod tip, waited for the slack line to straighten out, and finally set the hook and landed a 5.5-pounder. I had a purple worm tied on, threw it to the same tree, dropped my rod tip, waited until the line straightened out, set the hook and caught a 4-pounder. I was hooked on bass fishing; it was fun.

We fished together quite a bit, and I decided I needed my own boat, so I bought a 10-foot pram from Sears with a four-horse-rated Chrysler – it was fast! I put an aluminum skeg (looked like a shark’s fin) on the bottom of the flat-bottom boat so I could turn it without sliding 200 feet. I spent every day I could on Comanche Lake, and I had aerial photos of the lake when it was dry, so I knew where all the structure was. I overlapped the photos and used a stereograph to look at them. That pulled everything up in three dimensions so I could see all the drop-offs and standing trees, etc. Comanche’s probably the best structure lake I’ve ever fished; it’s got every kind of structure imaginable. I spent day after day there, and read everything in the library on fishing, trying to upgrade myself. I studied every article in every bass magazine, then went out and tried it all – I found out how little good information there was in the articles.

NaCl - You did this while working full-time for Cal Trans?

Dave – Yes, both at the same time. In November, I spent the whole month fishing one piece of structure at Comanche - caught 75 bass over five-pounds in about 20 trips. I finally decided I should figure out how to fish a jig.

NaCl - What were you catching those fish on?

Dave – Worms, so I thought I’d try a jig. I didn’t have any place to buy them, so I ordered some jig ‘n eels from Cabelas, - kind of a spoon-shaped, red-head, 5/8-ounce with a six-inch black eel on it. I didn’t like the eel so I borrowed some rubber from a fisherman (from the San Joaquin Bass Rustlers). I tied double the amount of black rubber on it than you normally would, and added a black spring lizard. It was a pretty big jig. I fished it on Comanche one day. Every time I moved it and bumped into something, I stopped and held the line tight, watched my rod, and wondered if it was a bite, because I didn’t know what it should feel like.

I fished it through a tree for 15 minutes - the tree was in 25-feet of water and every time I hit a limb I thought I was bit. I’d wait, but nothing happened, so I kept going from limb to limb. Then I couldn’t get my jig over a limb - about the tenth time I lifted it, I felt that my line was rubbing on barbed-wire, and I thought it had to be a bite, so I set the hook. I did have a fish; it came straight up and jumped. It weighed eleven pounds. I caught four more that day for a total of 32 pounds, all northerns. Since then, the jig has been my main bait, and that was back in ‘74.

I was angler of the year in my bass club in ’74 and ’75, and in Western Bass when it first started. I got BASSMASTER magazine, and every year the money went up. In ’76 I thought, “As good as I’m doing out here, if I could do that well back east I might be able to make a living at fishing.” That’s what I’d dreamed of doing when I was considering commercial fishing, but I didn’t want to do that because it’s just hard work. I decided what the heck - I’d worked 15 years for Cal Trans, was bored, and didn’t like office work. I’m an outdoorsman, highly competitive, and there was no competition working for the state. I quit in March. Everyone was really sad - they wanted to go, too!

In April I did a trip with John Fox from Texas. He’d heard about how good I was doing on the Western Bass circuit, so he came out to make a movie. We went to Don Pedro and he was impressed with the fish I caught and that I knew which way they were going to go. He thought I could do really well back East, and invited me to Bass World West in Modesto where he was doing a seminar. He talked them into sponsoring me with a boat and a motor. So in April I headed east and fished BASS, American Bass, American Angler, Cadillac tournaments, Ford Motor Company tournaments, Lone Star tournaments, Hungry Fisherman Restaurant tournaments, every tournament I could find, I fished.

NaCl – Did you have to qualify for BASS back then?

Dave – All you had to do was pay your entry fee, which was the case with all the circuits. That was ’76 and I discovered fishing was different back east, but I worked really hard. My first tournament was on Cherokee Lake in Tennessee, a lot like California lakes so I was pretty much at home on that one. I finished 8th, but I did better in practice – probably a 5-pound average just running the shoreline pitching my purple vinyl jig. But I did different things in the tournament and ended up 8th. I fished a lot of different lakes - Florida, Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, North and South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Kentucky - a one-year period of learning the difference between eastern and western fishing.

NaCl – How did you support yourself during that year?

Dave – I withdrew my retirement, paid my bills, and then spent eight months on the road. By 1977 I had $700 to my name, but I didn’t want to give up. I didn’t have a boat for the coming season, and I’d already sold mine. The first tournament was in February at Lake Okeechobee, American Bass. I thought if I didn’t do well I’d just get a job in Florida. On my way there I ran into an old retired fellow, he and his wife in a motor home pulling a bass boat. He fished all the tournaments, we got to be friends, and then when I got to the tournament he was standing there in the parking lot with his arm in a sling. He was pre-fishing and had tripped and broken his arm. He wouldn’t be fishing the tournament, but said I could pre-fish with him – in those days it didn’t matter. Since I didn’t have a boat, it was a great deal.

Once out on Okeechobee he told me he was catching the heck out of them on 9-inch purple worms. We did that for two hours and never got a bite. I figured it was only 15-feet in the middle, and 15 miles across, so the fish had to be in heavy cover, but I didn’t see any, just grass, tules, bull rushes, and cattails. I asked to run his boat, but he didn’t want me to. I told him I couldn’t think unless I was driving (I’ll explain that later).

He finally let me drive. I was driving down a boat road (boat lane – Ed.) and I turn down another one, and then another one, and finally had to stop because it was covered with water hyacinths. I pulled up to the edge of that water hyacinth and saw this single tule sticking out of the hyacinth in the middle of the boat road. I thought it didn’t belong there. I always key on odd things for big fish. There was a golf-ball sized hole in the hyacinths so I flipped a 5/8-oz black hair jig with a black worm trailer into the hole. I got bit and brought in a three-pounder. I looked at my buddy and said, “I know where your fish went. They’re underneath these water hyacinths – you just have to fish it in the right places.”

We continued down the lane, running through a needle-grass bed when suddenly the grass was gone. I stopped the boat in a depression, about 100-feet wide. There were huge beds all over, with only one bass on a bed. Right next-door to it, as you approached the bull rushes, there was a line of brush inundated with water hyacinths, so I thought, these fish must’ve just moved right over there. So I idled the boat up to the brush line and there were gizzard shad running up and down both ways along the brush, so I idled on into the brush and turned the motor off, let the boat set there for a few minutes, got my jig and walked up to the front, made six flips and put six fish into the boat. I thought, well this is a good place to start.

NaCl – That was the old pro-on-pro days, right?

Dave – Yes – we both, supposedly, got the boat for a half-day. My partner pulled up close to the marina there, went across the canal, turned into the lake and stopped. I wondered what we were going to do. He said, “See this line of bull rushes? On the backside is a roadbed, but you can’t tell it on a graph because it’s so subtle, but I know it’s there.” We fished the outer side of the bull rushes. He threw a worm into the niches on the side, the little pockets. He caught a six-pounder, lost two, and I lost one. We kept running from spot to spot until about 10:30. Then I told him I knew where we could catch a limit, but he wanted to keep running to different spots. Finally, at 11:30, he said we could go to my spot.

I directed him to my little pothole and idled into the brush. He asked what we were going to do, and I told him we were going to flip. He had no idea what that meant, so I opened up the locker, pulled out two flip sticks with the same jig, same line, same everything, walked to the front, flipped my jig and caught a pig. We’re both flipping, eight flips and I had my limit, but he hadn’t been bit. I couldn’t understand, but that’s the way it went.

We backed out and started down the shore. We saw a tule point that must’ve come out a thousand feet, but there was a boat running right through the middle of it. I had him stop, and start idling through the boat’s path; I was looking for something different. I told him to stop when I spotted a little clearing on the lakeside of the point - tules in the opening with a little batch of water hyacinth and a little log stuck in the tulles. That looked different to me so I flipped a jig in there and everything moved. I set the hook but I got hung up. The guy came running to the front with the net (he could’ve put me in the net, it was so big) and said, “Did you see that fish?” I didn’t, but he said, “It was huge.” I thought he was nuts – I was hung, but I said, “Back the boat up and get it in there and we’ll see what’s going on.” He backed up and went straight down the boat run – the guy was really psyched out. “No, we wanna go in there – back up,” so he backed up and went straight back down the run.

I had to tell him exactly where I needed him to be, but he finally got it, and then came running with the net, stuck it down in the water and gets everything in it – the tules, the log, the water hyacinth, and me! It took both of us to lift it. My line’s in there so I figured I’m just hung up on something. I started tearing weeds out of the net and suddenly there was a mouth, so I grabbed it, pulled it up, and the fish was sick, it was real skinny, but it still weighed 9.2. It was a big fish. Now the guy was really psyched out.

Going back the other way I saw two separate patches of hyacinth that looked like they’d been pushed together so there’s a dividing line between them. Again, I thought, that’s different. I pulled the boat up and parked it; he started flipping and I sat down and ate my lunch. I couldn’t believe he never got a bite. I went up front, dropped my jig over the side and got hammered by a 5.5-pounder.

That happened several times and he got a little mad, threw down his rod, and said he quit. I showed him over to the right there were five clumps of bull rushes, and they were all pushed over by hyacinths. I figured that was just like a lay-down log in that lake. I showed him by flipping to the furthest one, and caught a big fish. I was getting kind of tired of catching all those big fish, so I just pulled a little and started reeling, and the fish started stripping line out, and I went, “Whoa, this is a big one!” but he came off because I didn’t set the hook. I think I weighed 33 pounds the first day.

The next day I went through the same deal, but by 11:30 he gave up, I took him to my starting spot, caught a limit, then we went on from there and I brought in another big bag. The last day I drew Richard Vance, the marina owner, and we started on a needle-grass bed. I caught a five-pounder on a worm on his water. The rest of the day it was the same thing, back at my starting spot at 11:30 to get a limit. I think the last fish I caught was 8.15. I won that tournament by 45 pounds – I weighed a total of 97 pounds. After the second day, I told Roland Martin how to catch them, and he ended up with second, 45 pounds behind me.

NaCl – So, literally, you went into that with $700.00 to your name. After winning a couple of tournaments, was the money good enough to put you in good shape, or were you still struggling?

Dave – After the first two tournaments, I’d made plenty of money because expenses weren’t nearly as high as they are now.

NaCl – So was some of the pressure taken off so you could concentrate on fishing?

Dave – Well, I never worry about money. I just try to catch bass. It’s very competitive and that’s where I get my thrills. I don’t worry about money. If I did, I’d probably lose everything.

NaCl – So all of this took place in 1977, when you went to the BASSMASTER Classic, right?

Dave – Yes, that was my first time. I believe I’ve been there three times in all.

NaCl – You talk a lot about instinctive fishing with instincts; how did you develop those instincts? You just look at a bank and this thought comes into your head like, “Gee, there’s a spot I need to hit.” I mean, where does that come from? It came fairly early in your career.

Dave – I didn’t know how any of that happened until I won a West Coast Bass tournament on Lake Mead, ‘85 or somewhere along there. I won with 18 pounds the first day (an astounding weight for Mead back then – Ed.), then came back with almost the same weight the second day. I was way out in the lead after day one. I didn’t understand why I did was doing well in tournaments until I sat down to play blackjack for about 15 minutes while my partner was checking out of the hotel. The table was full of bass fishermen, so I was busy talking to them. In Vegas the dealer deals all the cards face up except for hers, which were face down. I’m not a card-counter or anything like that, but I was just scanning all the cards, just in a second or two. I wasn’t trying to think about what I saw - I just scanned them. I was busy talking, and in fact, every hand the dealer had to ask me if I was going to play. “Oh yeah,” and I’d put out a bet.

After four hands this little voice inside said, “Shove all your money out there.” But I didn’t. I put five bucks out and got a blackjack. I didn’t think much of it, kept talking, but I kept scanning the cards each hand. A few hands later, the little voice said, a bit stronger that time, “Shove all your money out there.” So I put $25.00 out and got another blackjack. I had to wonder what was going on. In the next ten minutes I listened to that little voice and did exactly what it told me. I won $3,000. Every time I heard the voice I got a black jack; I made eleven total.

That’s when it dawned on me: that’s how I’d managed to win so many tournaments - subliminal suggestions. It’s all your fishing experience in your subconscious mind, it’s all there, everything you’ve heard, seen, smelled - everything. And your subconscious is always trying to help you; it’s like a computer. It’s evaluating while you’re fishing and it tells you what to do. Some people think it’s a gut feeling, but it’s not, it’s your subconscious. I think Rick Clunn has written two articles in BASS Times, I think he calls it “focus”, but I don’t think he’s figured it out perfectly yet.

What you have to do is fish with a blank mind – you know how to drive your boat, you know how to throw your lures, you don’t try to force yourself to know where the fish should be. You just view everything you’re doing, including your surroundings. Your subconscious will know what to do. You just fish, basically, with a blank mind, and this little voice will tell you what to do. But most people have a lot of negative in their subconscious, and the negative can override the voice, saying, “No, that won’t work,” and so you won’t do it. That’s a big mistake, because 90% of the time it’s right.

That’s how I won the West Coast tournament on Lake Mead. That’s how I’ve won all of my tournaments and so many prizes for big fish. I listened to it real well and won three US Bass tournaments, three West Coast Bass tournaments and the West Coast BASS Classic, but there have been times when I didn’t listen. Because the negative in your head can be really strong, as a result of every negative thing that’s happened in your life. It’s always stronger than the positive, but you have to override it. It’s not easy; you have to work at it.

NaCl – Last time we spoke we talked about tournaments that were defining moments in your career. They got you started, and brought you around to the concept of subliminal suggestion. Obviously, that’s probably the most important thing that you have ever found in bass fishing, because it influences everything you’ve done. I’ve got questions on that, but I’d like to ask another question: you’ve been to three Bassmaster Classics, won the U.S. Open for $131,000, you’ve won two trucks, a Cadillac, and 45 boats - so here’s my question, are you rich?

Dave – No! Bass fishing is expensive.

NaCl – After all that winning, you still have to go out and make a living every year.

Dave – True, I still have to earn a living. I started a guide service in September of ’03 and it took off in April of ’04 - I booked the whole month in ten days I just teach people how to fish. I don’t even fish unless they want me to.

NaCl – So, you didn’t guide before, this is something you just started up?

Dave – Not before, but I thought it would be nice to take people out and teach them how to fish.

NaCl – Are you enjoying it?

Dave – Immensely; most people know that you never stop learning, even from novices. They do things that are off the wall, but they’re catching all the fish, and you can learn from them. It’s a constant learning game. You just store all that in your head and it comes out somewhere down the line.

NaCl – Why didn’t you guide in the past? It seems it would be a natural thing to add to your tournament fishing.

Dave – Well, tournament fishing is hard work, mentally and physically, and I enjoyed the rest periods in between tournaments. I’m 61 and out there fishing every day.

NaCl – Digressing a bit, you got a heck of a start back in ’77 when you won three consecutive events and one of them with that monster weight, winning by over 40 pounds. Why did you leave the national tour, and do you ever think about going back?

Dave – I left because I got tired of being away from home, always driving, and finally the money got bigger out west so I thought I could afford to leave the east. I stayed out here, fished the western circuits, and did pretty well. The money’s growing, but I miss going back east because the fishing is so much easier out there.

NaCl – Easier?

Dave – For me it’s easier. It’s easier to pattern fish; more eastern lakes are off-color and a lot of them are a bit low on the greenery, so most of the bass are in the top 15 feet of water because of the water clarity and the oxygen content. Whereas, out here you can catch them at a hundred feet, so they all spread out and you don’t have concentrations of fish like you do back east. Okeechobee isn’t a dirty lake, but it’s only 15 feet deep in the middle, and they have so much dirt, solid cover, all types of cover in the lake that the bass just stay in that cover and have the oxygen because of all its different kinds of weeds.

NaCl – So, with the money really improving today, have you thought about going back on the national tour?

Dave – I have, but I can’t afford it. I’d need some backing, because of expenses. If you won $5,000 back in the ‘70’s it would last you about four months. Now it won’t last one month!

NaCl – I’d think you’d have sponsor backing because of all your success.

Dave – I’ve never pursued, never asked for money from sponsors. Most all my sponsors asked me to support them; I didn’t go after them. So, I’ve been with my sponsors for a long time. I’ve been with Mercury for 27 years.

NaCl – I know guys that are sponsored, that have cash deals with their sponsors and arrangements where sponsors pay entry fees, and such.

Dave – I think most of that comes from going to boat shows, and doing promotions. I just like to fish. Yes, I promote products that I use, day in and day out, even on the golf course. I wear my fishing shirt and my fishing hat when I play golf. I don’t wear regular clothes. People always ask me about it. I’m always pushing the products.

NaCl – What do you think about the big changes in bass fishing, like BASS forming the Elite 50.

Dave – I haven’t really kept up. I read about it, I think it’s a pretty neat deal, but you’ve gotta be good to get up there! There’s a lot of money involved. All I know is if you fish BASS or FLW, and you’re one of the top fishermen, it’s a lot easier to get sponsors. Out here, it’s not as easy because the sport isn’t nearly as big here.

NaCl – You’re fishing the EverStart, I know. Are you fishing all three BASSMASTER Western Opens, and if you qualify for a national tour are you going to go?

Dave – Yes, I’m fishing all three. If I qualify and have the money, I’ll go.

NaCl – If you qualify, you’ll probably have the money. You’ve had wonderful success in bass fishing; why have we seen so few articles and books from you?

Dave – Nobody has approached me for articles, a few, but not many. I started a book, had seven chapters and thought there wasn’t enough information in it, so I ended up doing 150-page book on the first chapter – how to find the fish. I was very involved, but that disappeared. It got stolen. That took about a month to do, two hours in the evening for a month, and it’s all gone now. I guess I gotta do it over again.

NaCl – You’re a tremendous resource, and it seems a shame to keep all that info in your head, unless you’re just using that as a competitive advantage!

Dave – Nope, you can teach someone how to hit a golf ball, but that doesn’t mean they can hit it well.

NaCl – You’ve talked on a couple of occasions about subliminal suggestion. I’ve thought a lot about your comments, and I’ve realized that it probably won’t work for everyone because they don’t have your database. It seems to me that your subliminal suggestion approach requires a lot of knowledge and experience so that your mind has something to work with.

Dave – True, the more experience you have, the more it helps; you need plenty of data. If one day it’s beautiful and the next day the weather changes drastically, your mind’s got all that figured out from your past experiences. The subconscious will just work that out like a computer, and come up with a feasible answer, but you have to keep an open mind. You can’t have pre-conceived notions – you have to go out there, go fishing, and not really think about anything. Your subconscious will evaluate and compute, and if you see the right thing with your eyes, it’ll tell you what to throw. It’s a matter of keeping your mind free, allowing your subconscious to run your day.

NaCl – Do you have any techniques for achieving that?

Dave – Basically, not thinking about any one thing too much. Just drive the boat – you know how to drive it, you don’t have to think. You know how to throw different lures - you don’t have to think about that, either. When you see something in the water, your mind relates back to previous situations, and the voice tells you there should be a fish…right there.

NaCl – You learned to trust your instincts at a very young age.

Dave – Yes I did. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that’s what was happening, although I didn’t figure out until the mid ‘80’s what was really going on. I never distrusted my instincts, but there are negative thoughts in everyone’s mind, and you have to try to block it out. Don’t pay attention and you’ll be right about 90%.

NaCl –You’ve talked about some early people, but do you have people you look up to in bass fishing as role models?

Dave – No, not really. As well as I’ve done in fishing since I was eight, I don’t really look up to anyone other than Dee Thomas. I was really interested in Dee because he was always winning tournaments, and I really looked up to him. I fished one tournament with him on Comanche, a team tournament. Back then all we did was pitch jigs under-handed. I went into the back of South Shore and pitched all the way around a big bush, and didn’t get bit. Dee said, “I’ll show you where the fish is,” and he flipped right into the middle of the bush.

He stuck a four-pounder and I grabbed the net, ran up to the front of the boat and right off the front deck! The only thing holding me in the boat was my pants, caught on the cleat. I was half hanging in the water and he’s yelling at me to net the fish! I was so excited to be fishing with him that when I’d hook a fish I’d reel him to the boat so fast I’d hit the side of the boat and knock the fish off. But I calmed down a bit after that.

NaCl – Bass fishing is obviously something we both love, but there’s a business side to it. Sometimes that side can be the ugly side of bass fishing, but it’s a necessity, especially at your level. How do you feel you’ve been as a business man?

Dave – Hmmm, I don’t really have a business side of fishing. I just go fishing because I love it. As far as business, I do the best job I can to promote my sponsor, and that’s basically it. I just love the competition, not so much with the fishermen, but with the fish.

NaCl – You don’t do any kind of business planning for your bass fishing?

Dave – No I don’t, other than scheduling. I don’t really think about fishing until I’m on the water. I think I’d probably do even better if I didn’t pre-fish, because I catch too many good fish when I pre-fish.

NaCl – That last tournament (Clear Lake) you were on monster fish.

Dave – Yeah, one time I found a pattern at the Delta and caught ten for 106 pounds, and three weeks later pre-fished for another tournament, and found another pattern that produced an eight-pound average. Then, the tide was wrong so the pattern didn’t work because I went out too soon, and in the other one the wind blew about 60 mph into everything I wanted to fish. So, any more I think it’s better for me not to pre-fish, unless I’m a total stranger to the water.

NaCl – On a side-note, do you run the tides here at the Delta, or do you just fish through the tides?

Dave – I run the tides. If it’s an outgoing tide I keep working south to keep up with it. On the outgoing tide all the crawdads and bluegills have to come out of the shallows - bass sit on the first break off the shallows and wait for the food to come to them. So you just fish those breaks.

On incoming tides the bass suspend so you have to fish that way - they’ll sit on a log, or suspended in the tules. You also have to use different colors than you would on outgoing tides, because they’re not four or five feet deep, they’re only two feet deep, and you need a different color presentation at that depth. I’ve always used a Color-C-Lector – in fact I need a new one; mine’s got a broken wire and quit working. I can pretty much guess the color, maybe purple or green in four or five feet of water with the fish suspended out there, but use salt-and-pepper when they’re at two or three feet.

NaCl – I would’ve thought you had a subliminal color selector.

Dave – I do, from experience.

NaCl – This is an obvious interview question - do you have any regrets?

D.G. – I wish I’d have stayed back east, fishing the tour. I stopped fishing back there in ‘84 or ‘85. The money really got big, and I would’ve gotten a lot more experience on that kind of water. It’s been a lot harder to make it out here.

NaCl - You have children, right?

Dave – A son and a daughter, Charles and Lana, with my first wife, who I was married to for ten years. Actually, the first year was pretty good and the next nine were living Hell, but I stuck with it. I was Catholic and didn’t believe in divorce, but I’m only human, and I couldn’t handle it anymore, so I got a divorce. It wasn’t good for the kids. They were four and eight. By the time I left I’d lost every friend I had, that’s how stressful it was. I pushed that stress onto my friends - they evacuated. Within a month after the divorce I got all my friends back. My attitude completely changed. Then I started bass fishing.

NaCl – You started bass fishing and shortly after that you went east.

Dave – Yes, I started in ‘72 with the San Joaquin Bass Hustlers and Western Bass. I fished those in ‘72 and ‘73, and always asked the top guys how they caught their fish, what kind of lure they used, how they worked them, how deep, what color, etc. Tournaments weren’t nearly as competitive then, so they were free with information. I stored all that info and came up with my own style, which wasn’t pitching a jig at the shoreline. I fished nothing but structure for two years, and then when I started fishing the shoreline I could relate what I saw on the depth finder to what I saw on the shoreline, so I started pitching jigs to targets on the shoreline, like a log or stump, anything that would make shade. I did really well in ’74 and ’75 doing that.

NaCl – Back to family, what impact did going back east have on your relationship with your kids?

Dave – I didn’t get to see them much, but it seemed to get better when I came back. I’d come back every year for two months before leaving again. I’d see them then, but I had a destiny to be the best, so I sacrificed and didn’t see them for ten months out of the year except for flying back once or twice a year.

NaCl – Was it difficult to make that choice?

Dave – It wasn’t that difficult. I needed to do it for myself. I didn’t have a job, so I was kind of forced into it. I did it to survive.

NaCl – How do your kids feel today about those years and are you close to them today?

Dave – No issues that I know of and yes, we’re very close. I have three grandkids; my daughter has two and my son has one.

NaCl – Other than the job with Cal Trans, did you hold any other jobs?

Dave – In 1984 I was in a pretty bad way, $50,000 in the hole, and didn’t know what to do. A friend had just started a tune-up shop and I helped him out a bit. I was able to take off to fish tournaments any time I wanted. I kept my head above water but I was still in the hole. I’d pre-fish for a couple of days, work for a week, and then take a week off to fish the tournament. I did that for five months, then went to pre-fish Lake Mohave for two days, came back, worked for a week, then went back to win the tournament. I won two boats at that tournament, one for big fish. I won three U.S. Bass tournaments that year, three West Coast Bass tournaments, and the West Coast Classic. That helped me get rid of my debt, and I was able to drop the job. About five years ago I picked up Gary Mullins of Value Plumbing as a sponsor, and he ended up being my best friend. We fished a lot of team tournaments, and won three or four boats. In my off time I worked for him part-time, building houses. Since then I’ve stopped working for him and have just been fishing. I worked mostly about three or four months out of the year part-time, just to fill in the gaps. It was a lot of fun; I enjoyed it mostly, but now I’m back to fishing full-time and loving it.

NaCl – What plans do you have for the future? Are you content to stay here in the West when there’s big money out east? You’re making good money guiding, and you have opportunities coming up that you may not have had for years.

Dave – That’s true. If I win a bunch of money and get way ahead, I might try to head back east. I don’t really plan on doing it, but if it happens, it happens.

NaCl – Is that your subliminal business plan?

Dave – Yes, that’s correct! I let my mind run my life. I don’t force-feed it. It keeps me calm as a cucumber and never stressed. I have really good blood pressure.

NaCl - Take a second and tell us about your sponsors.

Dave – There’s Mercury, who I’ve been with for 28 years. In 28 years I’ve had one Mercury break down; and it wasn’t the block it was a pump on the block. Other than that I’ve had no trouble. I’ve been with Bass Cat for four years. It’s one of the finest boats I’ve ever used. I was previously with Skeeter, Ranger, and Champion, plus I’ve used every brand out there, but I really enjoy the Bass Cat. My sponsors treat me well. I have Rod Strainer tackle for all my jigs and spinnerbaits, and Keeper Worm Company for all the worms I need.

Dave Gliebe - A man who won over $130,000 in a single tournament along with three BASS Masters Classic berths, 45 boats, two trucks and a Cadillac! Add in major event wins on Okeechobee, Sam Rayburn, Toledo Bend, California’s Clearlake and our famous Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta.