MIKE GILES: Passing on our fishing heritage

Submitted photos

Bass Pro Staff Angler Mike Giles celebrates with his newest fishing buddy, Zane Michael Gowens, born in Birmingham, Alabama last week. The young angler already has plenty of fishing equipment and a mentor and guide ready to go. 

I can still remember the first bass that I caught at Goat Mosley’s pond near the Blackwater Community in Kemper County. I was fishing with my father Jack Giles and grandfather Vernon Giles.

The monster bass actually pulled my small rod and reel into the water and dad saved it before it disappeared forever. The bass was pretty small, but it was huge in my eyes and it lit a spark that I will never forget.

When I got a little older, around 9 years old, I started following my PawPaw J. P. Nolen everywhere I could and that meant many fishing trips to Ross Barnett Reservoir. Those were the days when the lake was teaming with fish but few anglers. Those trips formed the basis of my fishing education and lit a flame of desire from the earlier spark that had been lit.

Hooked on fishing

I was hooked on fishing by catching many lunker bass in the 5- to 8-pound range, two- and 3-pound crappie, and huge bream as well as monster catfish and trophy stripers. The fishing was easy when I had a mentor like Pawpaw Pat. He went regularly and caught fish every trip. I can’t ever remember a time when we went fishing that I didn’t catch fish and usually lots of them.

That love of fishing led to youth tournaments and many tournament wins. Later on as an adult I was fortunately to win or place in the money in many bass tournaments, much of it a direct link to my early education on Ross Barnett with Pawpaw Pat.

Pawpaw Pat was a giant of a man who passed on his knowledge to all willingly and his love for the outdoors and kids was easily transferred to me.

In turn I passed on my fishing heritage to my own children and Chandler, Jackie and Mikayla all caught bream, crappie and bass throughout their formative years. The three young ladies also won many kids bream tournaments, beating a bunch of young men as well. They had every opportunity to fish and hunt and they all are excellent anglers.

Passing it on

There were a few more young men who grew up fishing with me and they became excellent anglers as well. My nephew Justin Giles is a topnotch angler who has won a few tournaments over his lifetime though he didn’t choose to continue fishing competitively but does it for fun like we do.

MIKE GILES: Passing on our fishing heritage

Kyle Gowens displays a nice largemouth he caught while fishing with Mike Giles. You're never too young or too old to start fishing. 

My own boy arrived a little later than we’d hoped, but he was 6-foot-3 when he got here, and went bass fishing with me almost immediately. Needless to say Kyle Gowens, my son-in-law, caught a few bass and he was hooked by the second trip. He’d never been bass fishing or had the opportunity before. Though he’s still learning the tricks of the trade, he’s an excellent angler and knows a few things about catching bass already.

Imagine the possibilities

Then our world changed, and we will never be the same.

Zane Michael Gowens, my first grandson, arrived right on time Aug. 8 in Birmingham, Alabama.

Though he was actually six weeks early, he’s doing well and has long arms and legs and is sure to have plenty of fishing opportunities. And yes, he already has fishing and hunting equipment. He just needs to grow a bit to use those fun tools. While I have conducted fishing and casting seminars for kids for about 35 years and guided many people on their first fishing excursions it will be a pleasure to pass my knowledge on to Zane Michael over the coming years.

How do you make an impact on the world? One way is to take a kid fishing, and I plan on doing that the rest of my time on Earth. Imagine the possibilities and make a difference by spending quality time passing on our fishing heritage with someone today.

You may be the only person who can make a positive difference in some child’s life.

Call Mike Giles at 601-917-3898 or email mikegiles18@comast.net.

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