It might be easier to name what all Lebanon’s John Sloan HASN’T done than to list everything he’s been involved in over the years:
Hunting and fishing guide.
Outdoor writer and photographer.
Radio and TV host.
He’s also a pretty good bass fisherman, as I’ve learned over the past decade or so of sharing a boat with him.
I met John at his house awhile back long before daylight and we headed to a section of Old Hickory Lake where he had been catching scads of bass in recent weeks, despite the scorching heat wave. He sent me photos to prove it.
He said the way to beat the summer heat is to fish early. Really early. He said we needed to be on the water at the crack of dawn and get in a couple of hours of fishing before the sun got too high. He said by eight or so the bite is usually over.
Our first casts shattered the glassy lake surface just as the eastern horizon began to glow pink. We worked around fishy-looking weed beds and shoreline timber, but apparently the fish picked that particular morning to sleep in.
During the next two hours, I caught a small hybrid and a smaller bass.
John fared a bit better; he boated four bass in the one-pound range and lost two bigger ones, including one that looked like it would have gone around four pounds when it broke water and spit out John’s swim-bait.
John was puzzled by the lock-jawed bass. He said he and a buddy fished that same area a few days before and caught 18.
Story of my life. I should have been there yesterday.
But as I’ve written before, you don’t have to catch a lot of fish to enjoy fishing with John Sloan. He has more funny stories than Jerry Clower.
Over a decade ago I accompanied John on a weekend trip to White Oak Plantation in Alabama where a friend of his operates a hunting reserve with stocked fishing lakes. We caught big bass until our arms cramped, and I laughed so hard at his yarns that my sides hurt.
I’ve learned that fishing with John can be painful.
Our recent trip was equally entertaining, as we swapped tales about everything from outdoors adventures to bull riding. John tried to calculate how many bones he broke during his rodeoing days.
Even though the fish played hard-to-get, I didn’t go home fishless. When we got back to John’s house he loaded my cooler with packages of fillets from some of his previous, more successful trips.
That night I had fish for supper, and didn’t have to clean them.
A morning of entertainment, topped off with a cooler-full of pre-cleaned fish.
That’s my kind of trip.
Larry Woody is The Democrat’s outdoors writer. Email him at [email protected]