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Jan 23rd, 2013
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Fishing with Bill Dance #13521551 04/17/20 02:22 AM
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Ken A. Online Content OP
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A few years ago I had the privilege to travel to Memphis to Bill Dance’s ranch. We got to fish with him all day. This is about an hour from his home in Collierville TN. I don’t know how big his ranch is but he has a gorgeous 120 acre lake with cypress trees, dollar pads, and coontail moss all around it. Wild turkey & whitetail deer were running around everywhere. It is managed by his oldest son Bill Dance Jr.

Many of you probably recognize the name Bill Dance, but you may have not known he was B.A.S.S. AOY Three times, won 23 National Events and was inducted into the National Freshwater Hall of Fame in 1986. He is the host of his show that is the longest continuously running nationally syndicated fishing show in America. He is one of my bass fishing heroes.

We wound up fishing from a 17’ Tracker with a hand-controlled trolling motor. It was in October and the weather was perfect. Bill brought a bunch of rod & reels for us to use. I picked up one of his spinning rigs and flipped the bail & made an awkward cast with it then turned the reel up on top & reeled it backwards with my right hand to retrieve the worm. I just went on asking him questions about his career. He was watching me use this spinning outfit upside down and reeling backwards right handed and I could tell he wanted to say something. Finally he picked up another spinning rig and said, “Let me show you how I use this rod & reel”. I said, Oh cool, thanks. After a few more casts, I picked up one of his baitcasters he had rigged up with a Tx rig and I saw his concern right away. I made an underhanded pitch to a tree about 40 feet away. He said, “Are you messing with me?” I said, “Yessir I am”.

Bill ran the troll motor all day and we caught fish steadily on TX rigged worms, spinner baits, and squarebill cranks. No giants but just tons of fish in the 2-4# range all day long. It was an awesome fishery and very young. I believe he said it was only 5 years old when we fished with him.

I kept calling him Mr. Dance and he would say, “Call me Bill”. I like to change lures frequently when the fish are biting (I know, weird concept) to see if I can find something that will trigger a bigger bite. So I asked him if I could dig through his tacklebox. He said, “Sure buddy, get anything you want”. So I am digging through Bill Dance’s tacklebox and he is kind of looking over my shoulder as I look through it. I find a crankbait with most of the paint chewed off & set it aside and close the box. He looks at me and says, “You’ve done this before haven’t you?” and I said, “Yessir I have” I told him that I used to guide full time at Lake Fork and we had a good laugh.

As many of you know Bill is a very witty & funny guy. He is also a true southern gentleman. More on that later. He told us story after story of his bass fishing career. He is close personal friends with Jimmy Houston & Roland Martin. He told us about competing against all the great anglers of yesteryear. It was an awesome day.

We fished from about 9 am till 5 pm and decided to go into town and have dinner. Bill pulled into a local place that reminded me of Golden Corral. It was an all you can eat buffet. Bill is one of the most recognized folks in the bass fishing world. We walk in and the hostess seats us at a table. We go wash our hands then go to the salad bar. We make a salad and head back to the table. Bill gets one bite of salad and our waitress, that is probably 17 years old asks if he is Bill Dance. He says, Yes ma’am I am. She asks for his autograph and he gladly obliges. The table next to us sees Bill and also asks for his autograph and a pic taken with him.

A line begins to form at our table and for the next 90 mins Bill is listening to people telling him about their big ole bass or the 3 foot long catfish they caught from the creek behind their house. Bill actually pulled up a chair next to his and had the people sit down beside him as they told their stories to him. Like I said, he is a TRUE southern gentleman. As Bill tended to the flock we ate salad, dinner, dessert and watched in amazement at how engaged he was with every single person that came up to him. We got a plate of food to go for Bill and he ate in the truck on the way back to his home.

So one of my long time fishing heroes impressed me in more ways than one that day.

Last edited by Ken A.; 04/17/20 02:30 AM.
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Re: Fishing with Bill Dance [Re: Ken A.] #13521564 04/17/20 02:31 AM
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Great story!👍

Re: Fishing with Bill Dance [Re: Ken A.] #13521572 04/17/20 02:35 AM
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Hook'em79 Online Content
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Awesome story, always been a big fan of his.

How did you land that trip?


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Re: Fishing with Bill Dance [Re: Ken A.] #13521573 04/17/20 02:36 AM
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Sounds like a perfect day on the water with one of the best ever! cheers


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Re: Fishing with Bill Dance [Re: Ken A.] #13521574 04/17/20 02:37 AM
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bassmanrudy Online Content
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Great story!! I'd love to fish with him one day! Still tape and watch his fishing show. :-)


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Re: Fishing with Bill Dance [Re: Ken A.] #13521577 04/17/20 02:38 AM
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Dang they asked for his autograph and not yours? noidea rolleyes

Re: Fishing with Bill Dance [Re: Ken A.] #13521635 04/17/20 03:28 AM
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Great story.


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Re: Fishing with Bill Dance [Re: Ken A.] #13521637 04/17/20 03:36 AM
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Great story.


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Re: Fishing with Bill Dance [Re: Ken A.] #13521642 04/17/20 03:50 AM
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Great story and liked how you were messing with him on the spinning reel and digging in his tackle box.
My brother said years ago when he was on his internship he had to extract a hook from him in an emergency room.
Said this guy had a big orange T on his hat and he didn't complain one bit.



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Re: Fishing with Bill Dance [Re: Ken A.] #13521644 04/17/20 03:51 AM
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I was born and raised in Memphis. Have met him several times. He was just as nice as can be every time. One of my Dad’s friends worked at Strike King. He said Bill is quite the practical joker.

Re: Fishing with Bill Dance [Re: Ken A.] #13521647 04/17/20 03:55 AM
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banker-always fishing Online Content
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Awesome post. Thanks for sharing. cheers


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Re: Fishing with Bill Dance [Re: Ken A.] #13521726 04/17/20 09:42 AM
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Great story and an amazing experience!


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Re: Fishing with Bill Dance [Re: Ken A.] #13521784 04/17/20 11:47 AM
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All I want to do is be you for a week....amazing opportunity. Did he wear his big, tall Tennessee cap? Anyone could recognize him with his hat from 20mi away. He is definitely one of the patriarchs of bass fishing. Thanks for sharing....experience of a lifetime for any bassfisherperson. thumb


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Re: Fishing with Bill Dance [Re: Ken A.] #13521799 04/17/20 12:03 PM
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Re: Fishing with Bill Dance [Re: Ken A.] #13521812 04/17/20 12:22 PM
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How awesome, I remember waking up early on weekends as a child to watch his show, also loved Jimmy Houston and his crazy antics!

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