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Take a 40-Year-Old Fishing

with: Jamie Spencer

I apologize for taking a brief sabbatical. I didn't think it was that big of a deal, but then I was mauled. I had no idea the number of seniors who tune in. Where was your article this week? Did you find a ticket? Was that you in a kayak on TV? Embarrassing. Seriously folks. I am truly humbled by all the praise. However, I can't possibly guarantee that I won't leave you hanging like an MLB-Little League Classic curveball ever again. #itwillhavetowait.
No. I didn't score a ticket to the game at Historic Bowman Field. I didn't catch an MLB foul ball either. Yes. That was me in a kayak outside the temporary windscreen on the levee during batting practice. I wasn't trespassing and managed to catch a monster bass moments before the national anthem. It's true. I took several pictures and even recorded a video of my epic moment. ESPN's Timmy Kurkjian actually shared one of the posts. A legendary finish to terrific summer. While the MLB players were getting paid an additional $20k to be nice to kids on out new grass — I was outside the fences battling a massive bass. #rhyme.
OK. So Little League is over, and thankfully school is back in session. It appears my contract wasn't renewed. So now what? Duh.
I seriously love everything about North Central PA. I am one of her biggest advocates too. What's not to adore about the 570? Lycoming County provides hundreds of great fishing opportunities. Our area is blessed with several different types of water to target all kinds of species. Fishing has always been my passion, and my lovely bride would say that I am somewhat obsessed. I would fish every single day if I could. "But. You already do." She has a valid point.
Austin Gaab and I met some ten years back. His mom and older sis used to man the Jules Artwear kiosk in the center court of the Lycoming Mall. Austin would often visit my golf stand, and I enjoyed my conversations with my then seven-year-old chum. We started a tradition of exchanging lures every holiday season. He too was obsessed with fishing at an early age.
Seasons passed, and we grew slightly apart, but I did my best to watch Austin grow via Instagram. My little buddy is now a senior at Montoursville Area High School, and my friend is an extraordinary fisherman. Austin is the master at catching smallies and largemouth bass. Gaab participated in a district UBASS classic in upstate New York recently. He was one of the youngest competitors, but Austin left his mark by out fishing several others and even a few pros. He came home with an impressive catch that landed him a first place prize. Austin is currently ranked fifth in our region, and the young lad already has a rather impressive fishing resume.
"I was thrilled with the finish on Keuka," Austin explained. "The bass were down deep and a bit sluggish. I don't normally fish in 25 feet of water. But we found something that worked, and our patience paid off."
I have featured Austin and a few of his mates on this page before. However, after seeing some of his posts- I desperately wanted to reconnect for some more. So instead of the usual 30-minute phone call follow up– I reached out to Austin and politely asked, "Do you mind taking this 40-year-old fishing once again?" Austin agreed, and we decided to fish below the Market Street Bridge in the hood.
I was so excited for this opportunity to fish with my young friend again. I arrived an hour early and made some casts along the shore. Austin pulled up, we gave each other a fist bump, and then we were off. No breaking the ice or pregame pep talks here boys and girls. They only get in the way of our casting and retrieves.
I showed up with the usual Lycoming Creek Chronicles gear. My two spin rods were armed with a few of my favorites lures. I was prepared. Well until I saw this kid's "stuff." He had absolutely everything. You should have seen his fancy rigs and extensive arsenal. I couldn't believe it. It was like Austin had something from all 140 pages of a Cabelas catalog. #gandersout.
I’ve fished this stretch of water many times before but never quite like this. When I was his age, my friends and I would throw topwater plugs from our canoe, but tonight I got to ride in style once again with the young fishing phenom. He took great care of me and introduced me to a few new ways to catch Smallmouths on the Susquehanna. Do you have an extra Chug Bug? Sure. What size and what color? Dude. This was insane.
I enjoyed a great night on the water with my friend. We spent a few short hours on the river and fished until dark. I held my own and managed to hook into a few decent smallies, but my game is nothing compared to this kid. Austin landed many fish that were over three pounds. He caught them a variety of different ways under less than ideal conditions. Austin also netted the biggest bass of the night — a massive 21 inch 4.5 lb backyard bronzeback. He has this thing down to a science and this long time fisherman was impressed. What time are you done with school tomorrow kid?
Austin and his fellow-angling mate, Jake Jones of Jersey Shore, are holding their second annual fishing benefit. The one-day extravaganza is scheduled for Sunday, September 17th in Linden. Boat check in and registration is from 5:30-6:30 a.m. Entry fee is $70 for a two-person team. There is also a lunker fee at $10. Lots of great prizes, hot dogs, drinks and some serious fun. All proceeds will benefit the Lycoming County Veterans Transition Center. Those interested in more information should call Rick Gaab, Austin's father, at 570-337-3723. Join us.
Austin Gaab is a great lad, and his rents should be proud. Not only can he fish but he's polite, humble and an extraordinary young man. Austin works part time at Halls Marina and likes tinkering with boats. He enjoys school but admits it gets in the way of his fishing. Work does too.
I wish my young friend the very best in his remaining tournaments and his senior campaign. Tight lines kid and thank you for teaching this 40-year-old a few new tricks. Cheers.