IN THE BOAT WITH LARRY LARSEN
by Jim Porter
(AUTHOR'S NOTE: Occasionally, readers will inquire as to the content of an article and whether the author is really a knowledgeable bass angler, or just another writer making a buck. As we will go on to explain later, there are 'writers' and there are 'reporters' in the outdoor media field. One of the more prolific is Larry Larsen of Lakeland, Florida. His work appears in many major magazines and newspapers. Plus, he is the author and publisher of numerous fishing books. And, Larry Larsen is a darn good angler.)
There are basically two types of journalists in the outdoor writing world: 'REPORTERS' who research a topic to the extent necessary to address a particular subject with a degree of accuracy; and, 'WRITERS' who are experts on a selected subject and have the ability to covey related fact and ideas to their reader.
After a day in the bass boat with Larry Larsen, we discovered just how much more there is to this accomplished journalist and how well the 'writer' title fits.
Having known Larry on a professional basis for a few years and residing within a reasonable distance of his home in Lakeland, Florida, I called him for a discussion and demonstration of his bass angling knowledge. I was not disappointed.
Larsen is what we in the journalistic profession term "a very dependable source". Without question, he understands the subject of bass fishing to a depth few people will ever attain, or will ever need to know. The interesting fact is that he understands not only the basics and details of the sport, but he understands 'why' things are the way they are. For example, Larsen easily selects the proper tackle, lure, and lure presentation to take a bass off a given piece of cover or structure. But, what makes him special is that he knows precisely why that bass was at that location in the first place. That depth of knowledge allows Larsen to study the conditions and the locale and very accurately predict where he is most likely to find bass on any given day.
Someone fishing with Larsen for the first time might think that he has the fabled 'magic' lure or an overabundance of 'luck'. I checked his rod tip and tackle box thoroughly for the lure and it wasn't there. I also frisked him for rabbit's feet and other secret charms, with the same results. Actually, it is neither magic nor luck that makes Larsen successful; it is KNOWLEDGE AND SKILL. And, while he has a approximately 19 years of bass fishing experience under his cap, he is continually researching and studying and learning more about the subject of fishing and the world of the bass, in particular. That's important, because when Larry Larsen discovers the key to determining the predominate forage in a body of water or how a bass reacts to water clarity and light changes, you and I are eventually the real beneficiaries. His Bass Series Library is an 'encyclopedia' of bass fishing knowledge. (Refer to the footnote at the end of this article for details).
During our day in the bass boat, Larsen emphasized that his writings usually detail highly productive fish-catching methods and special techniques. "I believe the readers want to keep up with the latest and very best tactics to find and catch bass. I try to explain how they can use those concepts anywhere they may fish."
In response to our question regarding how widely he travels to experience bass fishing and gather data, Larsen intimated, "I have fished all over the United States and some foreign countries. Honduras, Cuba, Venezuela, and Hawaii are some of the more exotic locations. A close cousin to the bass, in habits and other traits, is the South American Peacock Bass and I have had the opportunity to sample his breed a number of times. I even held a line class record for the Suwannee bass at one time. Each trip and each fish is an experience and I learn a little more. Being from Florida, I have fished all over the 'Sunshine' State, covering 200-250 different rivers and lakes. Additionally, I have be fortunate to sample countless canals, ponds and old phosphate pits."
Our next question was interrupted by Larsen setting the hook of a Rat-L-Trap plug on a decent three-pounder. It was a nice fish, he indicated, but he really didn't like to catch those 'small' bass. This caused us to change our original question and follow with one regarding his fishing habits and preferences.
"I concentrate my fishing primarily for big bass," responded Larsen, "and, accordingly, am a firm believer in handling the catch gently and releasing them to fight another day. I have been lucky [there's that word again] enough to catch over 450 bass between 7 and 12 ˝ pounds. That was my biggest bass and the only one on my wall. The vast majority have come on artificials, but I will fish with live shiners when looking for an exceptional giant. Although the plastic worm is possibly the deadliest lure ever devised for bass angling, I much prefer the thrill and excitement of crank plugs and, in particular, top-water lures. The majority of my bass are taken on free-running, vibrating crank plugs [such as the Cordell Super Spot and the Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap]."
Noting that Larsen was playing down another 'small' bass, we asked where he caught the bass and exactly why it was there. A couple of key points to remember were contained in his answer.
"If you look just off the right-front of the boat, you can see a light patch of sand just under the surface," our companion directed. "That is the top of a small, submerged island surrounded by some very deep water. One side of the island has a steep drop, while the other is a gradual slope. In the winter, I would fish the steeper side with a small, slowly moving lure, such as a jig-and-rind combination. But, since it is spring and the water is warming rapidly, the fish will normally be on the sloping portion. Additionally, they can be expected to be fairly shallow at this time. Shallow bass are usually active, feeding bass, so I simply cast to the shallows on the sloping side. Seasonal aspects are very important when addressing a piece of structure or a cover area. But, then, so are lure sizes and presentation methods."
In reviewing his credentials further, we found that Larry Larsen has published nearly 2000 magazine articles and over 5500 photographs. His work has appeared in nearly every outdoor publication, numerous newspapers, and many advertising brochures.
Chances are excellent that you have read many of Larsen's writings, but never realized who was behind his word-processor.
For future reference, please note that Larry Larsen is 'a very dependable source'.
(Footnote: Larry Larsen's Bass Series Library contains many books. The following are a few of them:
Contact Larsen Outdoor Publishing, 2640 Elizabeth Place, Lakeland, Fl. 33813, or call (813)-644-3381.)
- Better Bass Angling, Vol. I, Bass/Prey Interaction
- Better Bass Angling, Vol. II, Techniques
- Bass Pro Strategies
- Bass Lures, Trick and Techniques
- Shallow Water Bass
- Bass Fishing Facts
- Trophy Bass
- Angler's Guide To Bass Patterns
Recommended sites by The Fishin' Tipster
A common question that we get: "Is there somewhere close to get bait and tackle?" This is where we get our bait.
Pete and Tina Heinz / 9 South Mulberry St. / Fellsmere, FL 32948 / 772-571-9855
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