The sport of Bass fishing has given me plenty to be grateful for. For me, it’s been a hobby, a source of competition, something that kept me out of trouble, a way to enjoy God’s beautiful outdoors, and so much more.
THE EARLY YEARS
Taking my float tube in the local lake and delta when I was a teenager, breathing in the fresh air, and catching fish brought excitement that cannot be matched by a video game or television. As I got older, I looked back on those memories and I knew they were something that I would want to share with other teens. It seems with each generation, kids are enjoying the outdoors less and less. Bass fishing has been such a positive influence in my life, and it only seems right to spread and share the beauty and the knowledge of it with others.
It wasn’t long ago, I remember watching Bill Dance and Jimmy Houston on T.V. with a notepad and pen writing down what I needed to get before my brother and I would be dropped off at my grandparents houseboat for the weekend. We spent week after week every summer with my grandparents from when I was four-years-old, until I got my first job. I grew to love the sport of bass fishing in those years with little improvement, knowledge or skills.
A WAY IN
After I got my driver's license, I was at the local tackle shop asking the owner many questions and walking up and down the aisles day after day looking at tackle. The owner soon asked me if I would like to work there. I gladly accepted and it all started at the age of 17.
Each day, I would talk to tournament anglers who were nice enough to share some information with me as I was young and really pursuing bass fishing hard out of my 15 foot Valco aluminum boat. I was on the water every chance I could get, each day trying to improve my skills.
It didn’t take me long to see there was a lot of competition and a lot of money involved in fishing for bass. I have always been very competitive and grew up trying to make money any legal way I could. All I needed was a partner and I was ready to start fishing tournaments.
I met my Harvey at the tackle shop one day and expressed I was in pursuit of a partner and he gladly accepted. Years later, with four AOY titles, over 30 top-3 finishes, two first place pro pro/ams and a second place in the 2012 FLW as a pro, I look back thinking of how far I have grown with the help of my older more experienced partner and by spending three to five days a week on the water, listening to seminars, and reading magazines.
I realize it was because of other bass fisherman helping me when I was young that I am where I am today and have accomplished what I have. I try as often as I can to give back to what was kindly given to me by taking others out as a role model, helping people catch their first bass or just helping increase their own skills.
MY FIRST SEMINAR
After being contacted by the head of the Delta Teen Team Bass Club, myself as well as my sponsors Lumpy’s Diner, Hi’s Tackle, Toxic Baits and Phenix Rods put on a seminar last month with donations for their young members. I was very excited. It was my first seminar and it was teaching the youth. I had hope that night would impact or redirect one or more to possibly pursue bass instead of what many of our youth are participating in with drugs, gangs and such things.
With donations and a free guide trip with myself raffled away for the teens I had an hour to speak about winter time bass fishing, the mindset of tournament fishing, proper equipment and decision making on the water.
Close to 20 teens gathered at Lumpy's Diner in Brentwood. Both boys and girls in the age group from 11-18 showed up. I shared with them how it wasn’t even ten years ago I was sitting in their shoes hungry to learn how to understand bass and the tournament side of the sport. I told them about fishing my first tournament out of my 14 foot aluminum boat with my 25 horse Yamaha, taking second and the thrill it was at the age of 16. I was able to share the pros and cons of what I learned over the last ten years.
INSPIRE OTHERS TO FISH
After going over tips and techniques, we ended with answering questions and grabbing a bite to eat at Lumpy’s. It was a great experience for me and something I suggest that other bass anglers want to do.
We can only hope we inspire others to take a kid fishing and to introduce to them what was given to us. Whether it be just fun fishing or a tournament, the outdoors is for everyone and will keep our youth healthier, and committing less crime.
I want to thank His Tackle box Phenix Rods and Lumpy's Diner for their donations and expressing their care for the youth and the future of the great sport we all enjoy.
Phillip Dutra has been fishing the California Delta for 20 years, competing for the last 8 years, His personal best is a 11.2lbr from the Delta. His most recent achievement is the 2013 Won Bass Pro Am win on the tidal water. Dutra is sponsored by Hi’s Tackle, Phenix Rods, Toxic Baits, Lumpy’s Diner and FishDelta.com. Follow him at Dutrafishing.com