Pretty much everything you need to know about the mindset of professional bass fishermen is encapsulated in this Facebook update by Alton Jones, one of the best pros in the world and the 2008 Bassmaster Classic champion:
“The fishing on Falcon was great,” Jones wrote. “But unfortunately, our fun was overshadowed when we found a dead body on the Mexican side of the lake.”
This is what is known gently as burying the lede. One, it’s never news that the fishing on Falcon Lake is great. That freak factory on the Mexican border is notorious for coughing up humongous fish by the boatload. I covered a tournament there in 2008 in which the top six finishers all beat the previous B.A.S.S. record for weight, this in a 40-year-old tournament organization. The winner, Paul Elias, boated more than 132 pounds in four days, which meant his average largemouth went close to 7 pounds. Alton Jones confirming that he was able to catch fish on Falcon is like Anthony Bourdain confirming that he was able to find a Coke in Times Square, or Michael Irvin reporting back that he noticed women in Las Vegas who will have sex with you in exchange for money.
Now we’re burying the best stuff, too. In his blog on bassmaster.com, Jones goes into more detail about finding the body that may turn out to be the remains of David Hartley, a Colorado man who was shot in the head by Mexican pirates back in September, 2010, according to his widow, who was jet-skiing with him at the time. Here’s what Jones and his two fishing buddies saw after one of them remarked that a pile of trash on the bank might be a skull and ribcage:
We got closer and saw a pelvis, two leg bones, arm bones, and within 15 seconds it was obvious what we were looking at. It was sort of surreal for a moment. It was 3 feet from the water, so I trolled over, staying in the boat, and looked closer. Then it hit home that yes, it was the remains of a human. Its feet were tied together, and it had rags of mud-caked clothes draped about it. There was no flesh, so it had been there for a while.
I’ve made this point previously, but it goes to show that if you want worthwhile life stories — real, unpredictable, crazy shit — you have to get outside. Hunters and anglers especially, but even hikers and climbers, wind up with better anecdotes in a given week than most people gather all year. Just remember to eat what you kill, pack heat in case you stumble onto a deep-woods meth operations (it happens) and for god’s sakes, watch your ass if you’re tooling around Falcon. Mexican pirates don’t play.