UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Detroit River

My First Ranger

My First Ranger
Jimmy Houston

A friend sent me an article about a man in Paducah, Ky., who had one of the original Ranger boats built in 1968. As the story went, all the man really was wanting to do was buy a truck. He wound up getting the truck and the old Ranger from the guy who owned them both.

It was a very interesting article, and it brought back a lot of good memories about my first Ranger, which I purchased from Forrest and Nina Wood back in 1968. I don’t claim it was one of that first batch of Rangers, because it wasn’t. It was a 1969 model. I bought it in late summer that year after visiting with Forrest and Nina at one of the first B.A.S.S. tournaments.

The tournament was at Lake Eufuala in Alabama. I didn’t have the $125 to enter, but Don Butler told me I was paid up, and we drove down there together. To his dying day, Don swore he never paid my entry, but I’m convinced he did because that’s just the way he was.

I was leading after the first day with 11 bass that weighed 52 pounds, 11 ounces. My three best were 9-3, 8-10 and 8-14. That was back when you could bring in 15 fish a day. I dropped to second the next day and finished sixth in the tournament. I had never fished a three-day tournament and didn’t really manage my fish all that well. I don’t know that it would have mattered, though, because John Powell won it with 132 pounds.

Forrest literally sold me a boat at that tournament. It was about 5 feet wide, and at first I told him it was too wide to get in to some of the places where Chris and I liked to fish. He assured me that I would love it and enjoy fishing out of it. He was right.

I put a gigantic 100-hp in-line Mercury on it, and after a while my Ranger was pretty beat up. In fact, I cracked the transom trying to get the Mercury over logs and whatnot. I called Forrest and asked him if he could repair it if I took it over to Flippin. He said bring it on, but that I should first remove the Mercury and trolling motor. I told him I couldn’t afford to have that big, heavy motor taken off, so he told me to take the rig over from where we lived at Lake Tenkiller anyway. I did, and a couple of weeks later he called me and said the boat was ready.

When we went to the boat yard, he pointed to a light-colored Ranger mounted with my Mercury and trolling motor. I said, “That’s not my boat; my boat is green.” Forrest said, “No, that’s your boat.” He gave me a brand-new boat. Now, this is back in the years when nobody had a lot of money, and it cost him out-of-pocket to do what he did. I’ve always appreciated that.

I don’t know what happened to the Ranger. I finally swapped it for another, and I traded in so many over the years that I lost track of them. Reading about the man with one of those first Rangers built 50 years ago brought back a lot of good memories.

Those of us who started out together when tournament fishing got going didn’t have much. Fishermen like Hank Parker, Ricky Clunn, Roland Martin, Larry Nixon and many others had to scratch along for a while before things got better. Once in a while I get asked why, at 73, do I still fish bass tournaments. One reason is because I’ve got a lot of time and effort invested in it. But the best reason is because it’s enabled me to make friends with some of the best people in the world.

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My Mississippi River Game Plan  

My Mississippi River Game Plan  

My plan going into the Mississippi River event is pretty simple. I’m going to have four rods on the deck of my boat: Two flipping sticks and two frog rods. In my experience in western Wisconsin, that’s what will work the best for me to get big bites. READ MORE »

Guiding and Mentoring

Guiding and Mentoring

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Super Tournaments: Super Fun and Super Competitive

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Fishing with Confidence

This year, I’ve chosen to home in on trusting my gut, even with tough practices. I’m happy to share that I rarely have a practice that’s worth writing home about. It’s just the way it goes, and I’ve learned to not let the discouragement affect the tournament. READ MORE »

Renewed Excitement for Super Tournaments

Renewed Excitement for Super Tournaments

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Why I’m Excited to be Back with FLW

Why I’m Excited to be Back with FLW

This year has been an interesting one, to say the least. For the first time in my pro career, I’ve been home for much of the spring, and while it was great to fish local waters and get some projects done around the house, I’m ready to get back to fishing tournaments. READ MORE »

Big Changes for the Pro Circuit

Big Changes for the Pro Circuit

Recently announced changes to the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit have me extremely excited to get the season back under way. Specifically, a good number of the Major League Fishing anglers will be fishing the remaining three Pro Circuit Super Tournament events with increased payouts. This makes these truly the most lucrative five-fish-limit events in the country, with potentially half of the tournament field being paid $10,000 or more. READ MORE »

My Line-Thru Addiction

My Line-Thru Addiction

Pollen is in the air, on the water and covers my boat on a daily basis. When this happens, it means one thing to me – the bass are on the bed. Now, most people are all giddy about sight-fishing, but that’s not my deal. I can count on two hands how many fish I’ve caught truly sight-fishing. What comes to my mind during this time is swimbait fishing, but more specifically, one kind of swimbait in particular – a line-thru swimbait. READ MORE »

Making the Most of Quarantine

Making the Most of Quarantine

At the beginning of this year I was excited about the opportunity to fish the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit and the Bassmaster Elite Series. I was most excited about fishing the spawn in March and April on some of my favorite lakes. When the schedules for both circuits were first released I was feeling very confident about doing some sight-fishing on Santee Cooper, Eufaula and Lake Hartwell. READ MORE »

The Real Reason I love Spring

The Real Reason I love Spring

Fishing for a living is awesome, but when spring comes it can be tough. April is always a busy month for tournaments – and the fishing is usually fantastic – but I really love to turkey hunt and tournaments can put a damper on that. READ MORE »

A Silver Lining

A Silver Lining

From spending some quality time with my wife, Katie, and my dog, Doppler, to organizing my life and fun fishing, there are numerous ways that I have been able to take advantage of our current social responsibility to participate in “social distancing.” READ MORE »

Encouraging the Next Generation

Encouraging the Next Generation

Growing up in the city of Chicago, I didn’t have the outlet to the outdoors that a lot of our youth enjoy while growing up. It often takes hours to travel out of the city due to traffic, and there were no lakes within walking distance from my house. So it’s not like I could swing by the pond after school. READ MORE »

Picking out a New Favorite Rod

Picking out a New Favorite Rod

When selecting a new rod, I consider several elements: action, power, length and components.  Different rods will fit the role, depending on the type of lure, cover and fish species you are targeting. READ MORE »

Always Go Down Swinging

Always Go Down Swinging

Greg Bohannan's late father, Kenny, taught his sons to never take a third strike looking. "If you take the pitch and don't swing, you never give yourself a chance," he'd say. With that lesson in mind, Greg took his cuts at Lake Martin and gave himself a shot to win. Even though it didn't work out, he knows that at least he went down swinging. READ MORE »

How to Catch Your New PB

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Out of the five biggest fish I have caught in my life, four have come on a ChatterBait, including my personal best – a 9-pounder I caught this year on Sam Rayburn during the first Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event. READ MORE »

Why You Should Reel with Both Hands

Why You Should Reel with Both Hands

Without a doubt, during a tournament day I always get a question from my Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Marshal about why I have both left- and right-handed Abu Garcia baitcast reels. I get comments about the same thing from multiple social media followers if I post a picture that shows my reels. The remarks originally surprised me, but not any longer because of how frequently I see them. READ MORE »

Carrying Momentum into Florida

Carrying Momentum into Florida

Despite the solid start to the year, and the confidence that comes with overcoming adversity, Miles Burghoff knows very well how a good start to a season can either create positive momentum, or open the door to complacency, which often can result in a loss of motivation and focus. With the Harris Chain event kicking off this week, he's determined to keep that focus and motivation. READ MORE »

New Year, Same Feel

New Year, Same Feel

Ending 2019 on a bad note wasn’t how I pictured last season going. I was in contention to qualify for the FLW Cup going into the last FLW Tour event on Lake Champlain, but after coming in 97th at the finale I finished the season 51st in the Angler of the Year points and missed my chance for the Cup. Not going to lie, it stung a little bit and made for a LONG drive home, but it also made me hungry for 2020. READ MORE »

Vlog: Rayburn Recap, Practice to Pattern

Vlog: Rayburn Recap, Practice to Pattern

Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit pro Josh Douglas and his wife, Bri, created this baller recap video from Sam Rayburn and the first Pro Circuit event of 2020. In the video, which includes footage from practice and the tournament, Josh dishes on how he used his practice time to eventually uncover a productive trap pattern that helped him earn a 42nd-place finish, which is a big improvement on the 114th he posted at Rayburn in the 2019 FLW Tour event. READ MORE »

Why You Shouldn’t Second-Guess Your Gut

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In tournament fishing, you can beat yourself up for days with the “what if” scenarios that cause you to second-guess your gut. Well, in this case, I guessed wrong. I finished the Lake Champlain event in 145th place. It knocked me all the way down to 60th in points and out of Cup contention. READ MORE »