By R. Alan Richardson
As May arrives and the sports scene at the high school slows to a snail’s pace, it’s time to renew our outdoor sports news along with the local outdoor legends’ series. With water temperatures on the rise it’s a wonderful time of year to dust off the fishing gear, put on some new line, and head to the nearest honey hole. Spring has sprung, and with it comes the springtime fishing our county is known for. Whether it’s for catfish, bass, or crappie at Lake Oconee, pond hopping for largemouth, or kayak and jon boat fishing in some of our smaller reservoirs, local fishermen start getting the fever to get out of the house. There’s anticipation that this year will be the year to get your mugshot on the cover of the Georgia Outdoor News (GON).
One such fisherman has been fishing the local haunts for almost 60 years and is said to be one of the best pond fishermen in the area. Others argue that he’s not one of the best, he is the best. His name is Alan Stanton of Rutledge, but his pals have always called him Big Al. No, he wasn’t in the Rutledge mafia with Jimmy Griffin, Jr. but they were big fishing buddies in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. The nickname is attributed to his large frame. In his prime the big fella stood about 6-4 and weighed in at a solid 230 pounds. He could bench press a bus and was also a highly-skilled basketball player whose name brought fear into the hearts and minds of those who dared challenge him at the old Rutledge gymnasium.
Alan was world famous for his ability to tether a jon boat to most any vehicle. He knew most pond owners within a 50 mile radius and took full advantage of it. If you were one of his closest running mates, he might, just might, take you to one of his honey holes. That was only after you were blindfolded, threatened, and stuffed in beside the boat in the boot of his car. Once there, and after the blood-letting rites of passage, you would open your eyes and have one of those “Angels singing moments” as you eye-balled the most beautiful pond on the planet. The day would have been filled with bass on every cast, four-pounders galore, and the occasional six to eight-pound hoss. Don’t doubt me on this one. Big Al Stanton was a bass slaying predator in his prime. Just think about this one stat. He has caught 24 bass that officially weighed in at over 10 pounds with several other fish that would have been added to that count had they been weighed. Most fishermen have never even seen a 10 pounder, much less caught one.
The interview with this outdoor legend took place as he was recovering from back surgery. Unfortunately, the big fella has suffered through a number of physical issues requiring surgery over the past several years that have severely limited his fishing opportunities. Stanton said, “My favorite type of fishing is using a jon boat in ponds to catch big bass. I’m hoping these latest surgeries on my back will allow me to do that again once it all heals. I’ve had to fish from the bank mostly. The doctors have told me that after a four-month recovery, I should be able to do a lot of things I couldn’t do before. The first thing on my list is to catch a record bass out of a jon boat!”
Here are some tips and techniques he swears by. His three favorite baits for big bass and ponds are a four inch moccasin blue Zoom U-tale worm that he pairs with a Texas style worm rig, the Rattle Trap by Rapala in silver body and blue or black back, and the Rattlin’ Rap by Rapala in the same color combination. He said, “If I could only take three baits with me the rest of my life, it would be those three. When the moccasin blue color first came out, we used it in the Oconee River and tore them up. We started trying them in ponds and they worked great. It’s the only color I throw now.” According to the 65-year-old, the worms were first made in Bogart but are no longer available in the color unless you special order them from Zoom with a 1000 bag minimum. “I’ve got a good friend who orders them and either sells or shares them with others. That’s the only way I can get them. Right before my latest surgery I caught a nine pounder on the Rattlin’ Rap in a local pond. It’s my go-to bait and usually the first one out of my bag.”
Stanton commented, “When I retired I wanted to spend as much of my time fishing as possible. I miss the Savannah River trips we took to fish for big stripers and jon boat fishing in local ponds and lakes. I also miss the dock fishing at Lake Oconee. I’m hearing that it is on fire right now. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get back to some of that in a few months.”
If you don’t think that this guy is a local outdoor bass fishing legend, get this. He writes poetry. Yep, and his favorite subject is you know what… fishing. The following is one of his renditions.
Once upon a time, on a beautiful day, I loaded my boat, and went on my way.
• I noticed the barometer on the wall,
And how the needle was on the fall.
• I knew a big front was coming from the west,
And that’s when fishing is at its best.
• I began to ponder if this was the day,
When the big one didn’t get away.
• I thought about the last time I hooked that big hog,
He wrapped himself round that big ole log.
• But now that big fella has become a ghost,
Last time I hooked him he wrapped ‘round a post.
• Finally I could see the pond in sight,
Hoping that big one was going to bite.
• As I was unloading the truck,
I saw where a big one had struck.
• After catching a few small bass,
I hooked into one of the trophy class.
• Around and around we went,Holding tight to my pole ever so bent.
• After wearing this big one down,
I grabbed my scales to see how many pounds.
• Man alive could this be true, I just caught a world record bass on a worm that’s blue (moccasin that is).
• As I eased the boat back to shore, I heard this noise I’d heard many times before.
• Oh, no. Don’t tell me it’s so, The alarm clock just went off. Oh, no.
• As I got out of bed I wondered would this be the day,
When the big one didn’t get away.
• My suggestion to Big Al:
Shakespeare or Frost you may not be, But legend of fishing is what I see.