FISHING WITH NORMAN
(from the G. Loomis Archives)
By Jerry McKinnis
(Jerry McKinnis has been the host of “The Fishin’ Hole” for over 30 years, perhaps the longest – running fishing show in history. Look for him and his boatload of G.Loomis rods every week on ESPN)
Fishermen have probably had dogs as long as they’ve had, well, fish. And this is a story about a fishing dog like no other.
It all started with a fishing show I began putting together about three years ago. I’d put a lot of effort into developing a “made-for-television tournament series” called the FLW Tour, and I got to thinking: Why not get in on the action myself?
Well, first there was a little technicality. I had to qualify.
So now it’s around Thanksgiving of 1998. I’m all signed up for the first event in January and suddenly it dawns on me: I have no idea how to flip or pitch into cover. Sure, I’d watched countless hours of videotape where Gary Klein or Denny Brauer made it look easy, but Id never actually done it myself.
So I get on the phone to Bruce Holt at G. Loomis. Bruce says. Jerry, I’ve got the perfect rod for you. It’s an FSR905X GLX (now a BCFR954 GLX). I say, sounds great. Coulda’ been an F-l6 IBM for all I knew.
Well, one day not long after that I took my little dog Norman for a walk, and I happened to bring along the new GL-FS-90-whatever-it-is. So we’re walking along, when suddenly, without even thinking about it, I pitched a little jig out in front of us. And then I pitched it again. And then a third time. I’m starting to get the hang of this.
So after a few more pitches here, a few more flips there, I start looking for a new challenge. You know, something to aim for.
Something like . . . Norman.
Well, long story short, by Christmas time 1 can drop a 3/4 ounce black & blue jig on any dog’s back in the neighborhood. I mean, no canine is safe. I can target a Chihuahua in a laurel bush from twenty-five feet. A schnauzer behind a fire hydrant from across the boulevard. If we fished for dogs instead of fish, I’d be on the cover of “Fishing World” instead of writing a story inside it.
So finally, it’s January and I’m at the tournament. I’m in about 45th place and so far I’ve caught ten keepers. The best five might weigh all of ten pounds. In other words, I’m in deep trouble.
Suddenly, it comes back to me: Norman. The flippin stick.
So I move in towards the brush, just like I’m droppin’ one onto Norman’s back. BAM! A three pounder! Now I’m at twelve pounds and I only have half an hour to fish. Ten minutes later, BAM! Another three pounder! Now I’m at thirteen pounds. Ten minutes left. I pitch another into the heavy cover. BAM! The best bass of the whole day! A four pounder! I’ve got fifteen pounds of bass and its time to head in.
Now comes the part in the real good stories where the story’s author wins the tournament.
Well, that’s not exactly how it went. But I did come in 3Ist place, just two measly ounces shy of making the cut. But not bad at all for my first attempt. And I owe it all to G-Loomis and my loyal fishing dog, Norman.