The Bass Professor

The Bass Professor

Andy Dear | Monday, 28 March 2022

"As far as I know, I was the first guide to insist on catch-and-release with bass. I realized early on how rare these big fish are. I always let my anglers have the experience of owning the fish -- that's why I helped develop the chemicals to keep bass alive in a live-well. But, if someone is against catch-and-release, then there's a little bit of them that I'm against."
---Doug Hannon "The Bass Professor"

  1984 was a seminal year in my young fishing life. Not because of anything having to do with George Orwell's book of the same name, but because of my exposure to much different literary work.
I was not quite 14 years old in January of 1984, but was already taking my passion for fishing pretty darn seriously. The early 1980's were the beginning of the explosion of professional Bass fishing as we know it today, and along with it, the official publication of the serious Bass fisherman, BassMaster Magazine. I can honestly say that I never felt the lure (pun intended) of tournament Bass fishing. In fact, I absolutely detest swarms of boats racing around the lake, occupied by anglers fighting over fishing spots. The main reason I go fishing is to get away from that sort of behavior. Having said that, BassMaster magazine however was a fantastic publication, with a lot of really good educational information and the day each issue arrived in the mail was by far the best day of the month for me.

  Even though BassMaster was laying the groundwork for the archetype of the modern tournament angler, there was one man that I was introduced to in the January 1984 issue that was the antithesis of the tournament angler....that man was Doug Hannon. Doug Hannon, also known as "The Bass Professor" was in many ways the exact opposite of the modern tournament angler. He fished out of a beat-up camouflaged 15 aluminum Jon boat. He didn't carry a tackle box, instead choosing to foucs on 4 or 5 basic lures fished on conventional tackle to cover multiple angling situations, and he focused on catching AND releasing the absolute biggest fish he could find.

  I followed Doug's career with regularity through the next 2 decades, and over that time, he documented the catch and release of more than 800 Largemouth Bass over 10 pounds. Additionally, he was one of the most innovative tackle developers with multiple inventions in lure, rod and reel design. He was also an extremely prolific writer, publishing hundreds of articles in multiple publications over three decades. 

  As I mentioned before, I was never, EVER drawn in any way shape, or form to the tournament fishing scene. But Doug....he was someone I could relate to. He fished alone most of the time and was usually dressed in drab colored clothing. He was somewhat quiet and unassuming and cared nothing for flashy boats with big engines filled with a dozen rods and hundreds of lures. In fact, he felt that those things were distractions from what REALLY mattered in successful angling. I feel much the same way.

  The reason I write about Doug in today's Front Page is because is philosophy is somewhat more in line with how most fly fishermen think. He was a rabid advocate of catch and release and chose the well-being of his quarry over big trophies and hefty paychecks. And, I am totally convinced that a fair amount of Doug's success can be replicated with an 8wt fly rod, a couple of well tied flies in a few basic patterns, and a sound knowledge of seasonal patterns and lunar influence.  

  Unfortunately, Doug passed away in 2013 at the young age of 66, so I never got to meet Doug Hannon face to face and thank him for being such a monumental influence on the direction that my career in angling would eventually take. To this day however, I still frequently refer to Doug's resources not only for academic angling content that is still extremely relevant but also because the grace and style with which he fished reminds me of why I fish the way I do.

Below are two video resources that detail Doug's angling philosophy.

Hope you all are having a great week,