Fishing and Talking with Bill Dance
I had the pleasure of talking with Bill Dance recently. The first thing I noticed was that for a man as busy as he is, he was relaxed, friendly and easy to talk with. I’ve interviewed numerous outdoorsmen over the last few decades. Usually the highly successful personalities want to get to the point and then get back to what they were doing before I interrupted them.
Not so with Bill.
He made me feel like he had all the time in the world to chat with me; making me feel as comfortable as a close friend. Not only did he take plenty of time answering questions, he elaborated with related tales and just jawing as friends would do.
To give you an idea of how busy this guy is, he has a three-man camera crew who film 26 programs each year. Some of those 25-minute shows may require as many as four days to film. It takes time to find fish that are in the in the mood to come in his boat for a quick interview. (Dance talks to with all his piscatorial guests but they don’t respond – they all seem too eager to get back in the water.)
Each of his TV programs focuses on one thing – education. He says, “It doesn’t matter where I fish – Reelfoot, Pickwick or a farm pond – I want to show people how to catch fish.”
Viewers can learn a great deal ranging from the basics of angling to sophisticated techniques along with specific fish behaviors during the seasons. Readers can find his monthly column, Ask Bill, in Mid-South Hunting and Fishing News. He’s also been published in Field & Stream, Bassmasters, Outdoor Life and many other magazines.
You can read in-depth about specific techniques in his seven books: Practical Black Bass Fishing; There He Is (The Art of Plastic Worm Fishing); Techniques on Bass Fishing; Bass N’ Objects; Bill Dance on Crappie; Bill Dance on Largemouth Bass; and most recently, IGFA’s 101 Freshwater Fishing Tips & Tricks.
His fishing experiences began when he was just four-year-old, getting hooked on fishing wading Mulberry Creek with his grandfather near Lynchburg.
Since then he has the distinction of catching the first bass in the very first B.A.S.S. tournament. He’s won 23 national titles, qualified for eight out of nine Bassmaster Classics, and won B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year in 1970, 1974 and 1977. He finished in the money 64 out of 78 B.A.S.S. tournaments.
He began his TV program in 1968; more than 2,000 shows ago. Dance retired from tournament angling in 1980.
“I’ve always been lucky fishing,” he says simply.
But this incredible career may not have come to pass had he not been the first arrival at a gruesome motorcycle accident. He may have stayed on his path to become an M.D. as his father and grandfather had. “It was very traumatic and it affected me deeply. At that moment I knew I didn’t want to become a doctor.”
Eventually, his fishing skills gained recognition at a local level and his growing reputation earned him an invitation to the premier B.A.S.S. tournament and then into television celebrity. You can catch Bill Dance Outdoors weekly on Versus Network and Bill Dance Saltwater on The Outdoor Channel. In addition, you can learn more at his web site billdanceoutdoors.com.
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