By Dave Anderson
It’s kind of odd, being a Dave myself, how many other Daves I have fished with extensively—maybe Daves just like fishing… I don’t know. Dave Read was one my fishing mentors, I don’t have any photos of him but he looked kind of like a tougher, redneck version of Peter Griffin. A round, but solid guy, wearing cutoff camo shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt. He was my younger brother’s best friend’s father and when he heard how much I loved fishing he offered to take me out in his Crawdad. Before long we were fishing together a couple times per week. I think I was 10 or 11 when he started taking me along on most of his fishing trips.
I was a pretty good fisherman, even at that age, but I was very raw. He taught me about the importance of placing my casts—he was a very accurate caster—and through his urgings and tutelage I too, became a bit of sharpshooter with a spinning rod and a spinnerbait. I think he liked taking me because I was up for anything, I’d go try new ponds, I’d use all my scrawny muscle to help him hurry the boat through some tangle of bramble to get into a place without a ramp. Looking back now, he may have a played a bigger role in my fishing style than I even realized—I have rarely let challenging access stop me from getting into a place I wanted to be.
In this photo Dave and I were out on Lake Chauncy in my hometown of Westboro, Massachusetts. I remember this day well because it was the day I landed my first northern pike, it was small but I was very excited to add that species to my budding list. I also remember that he hooked a pretty decent one, probably low 30-inch range, and when he had it at the rail, I got very excited. Mr. Read was and is a merciless ballbuster, so he played it cool, and with the fish still hooked up he opened his cooler and started eating his cappicola sub. I just about dove over the side, I just wanted to SEE that thing! But his nonchalant delay cost him, the fish rolled and broke off his spinnerbait—we used Hank Parker Classic spinnerbaits and they were not cheap—at least by early 1990’s standards. I broke into fits of laughter, taunting him for trying to act like it was no big deal. (I guess he taught me a little about busting balls too).
The fishing was really good that day, I recall there were thunderstorms in the forecast and I’m sure that approaching front helped us. As the sun dropped below the horizon, the fish kept biting. It was getting slower, so we were playing the old ‘five more casts’ game, but we kept getting bit. There were no cell phones in those days, so there was no way for us to tell my mom that we were sticking it out. As we paddled the northern shore of the lake, we finally went five casts each without hooking up. Dave switched the trolling motor on and we headed for the ramp.
But as we were nearing the bend before what the locals called ‘back beach’ I saw a piece of structure I couldn’t resist throwing at—in the darkness I overshot the cast and hung it up in a bush. Dave was not amused, but he wheeled the boat around and started heading back toward the snag. I was able wiggle the bait loose in the meantime and it plopped down right where I hoped the bait would land on the initial throw. I snapped into angler mode and reeled double speed to keep the bait swimming at optimal speed despite the boat still moving toward it. And wouldn’t you know it, bam! I hooked up with the last fish of the night—I don’t know the weight, probably 2-1/2 pounds? But that was the first bass I had ever landed in full darkness. I remember thinking it was probably a rare occurrence. Little did I know that I would spend decades night fishing for everything from largemouth bass to brown trout to striped bass to white perch and beyond.
A rare occurrence? Oh how I wish I could tell myself the truth now.