Lexington bass pro calls it a career on BASS circuit

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 23, 2023

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By Dan Kibler

For the Clemmons Courier

David Fritts of Lexington, one of the best bass fishermen ever produced by the Tarheel State, announced his retirement from the BASS Elite Series last week, his health and stamina sapped by long-COVID and in need of a long winter’s nap.’

Fritts, who will turn 67 in December, won more than $2.5 million fishing the BASS and FLW tournament circuits since the late 1980s. He won the 1993 Bassmaster Classic, the 1994 BASS Angler of the Year and the 2001 FLW Tour Championship – one of only two bass pros to accomplish that feat. He was elected to the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in 2019.

“I’m still going to fish some; you can’t just quit fishing,” Fritts said. “But when you get to be almost 67, you can’t do what you used to at 45. I got COVID in 2019 and I have long-COVID; UAB (the University of Alabama-Birmingham) wants to put me in one of those guinea pig studies on long-COVID. I have zero sense of smell, but I’ve got some of my taste back. My energy level has come back a little, but I’ve never recovered to where it was before 2021. Back then, somebody would have to carry my bag of fish, filled up with water, to the weigh-in, because I couldn’t lift it.

“I’ve been thinking about this the last couple of years. Because of my stamina, it’s tough on me to fish back-to-back tournaments. To fish two weeks in a row, or a full week, then have a week off and fish another week, that’s tough on me.”

Fritts is the third prominent bass pro to retire in the past several months, joining Kevin Van Dam and Larry Nixon, two other Hall of Famers. However, Fritts is going to bow out gradually, planning to fish the new National Professional Fishing League circuit in 2024.

“There are only six tournaments: two in the spring, two in the summer and two in the fall,” he said. “They are a month-and-a-half or two months apart. You fish three days, take one day off, then fish three days. Before I totally, totally quit, that’s what I’m going to try. Bass fishing has been very good to me; I’m just going to spread it out some.”

Fritts is widely considered the best crankbait fishermen of all time, winning the great majority of that $2.5 million casting and retrieving diving plugs.

“I’m going to stay in the industry; I’m gonna still build crankbaits, whether I sell them myself or make them for somebody,” he said. “I know what makes ‘em tick, what makes a fantastic crankbait. The more I build ‘em, the more I learn about  ‘em. The (Berkeley) Frittside was the last one I built, and I think it’s the greatest crankbait to come out in 30 years – by sales and by the bass it’s caught. And it was the last two weeks of work that made that bait what it is.

“One thing that makes me feel good is to know I’ve helped people. All throughout my career, I’ve tried to teach people; I’ve never lied to them. I hope I’ve helped a lot of people.”


Trout stocking in Piedmont lakes scheduled

“Flatlanders” will get to see how the other half lives again this fall, as the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission announced last week that it will stock more than 67,000 mountain trout in 44 small lakes and streams, 26 of them in Piedmont counties that are not normally home to browns, rainbows and brookies.

The trout were surplus from the Bobby N. Setzer and Armstrong state fish hatcheries, and they will be stocked between Nov. 29 and Dec. 31. All fish stocked will be at least 10 inches long, and fishermen can catch up to seven fish per day, with no bait or lure restrictions, and no minimum size restrictions. The only requirement is possession of a valid fishing license.

Among the waters being stocked and stocking dates are:

  • Frank Liske Pond, Cabarrus County, Dec. 8;
  • C.G. Hill Park pond, Forsyth County, Dec. 5;
  • Village Point pond, Forsyth County, Dec. 11;
  • Winston Lake, Forsyth County, Dec. 14;
  • Gibson Park pond, Guilford County, Dec. 7;
  • Hornet’s Nest Park, Mecklenburg County, Dec. 11;
  • McAlpine Pond, Mecklenburg County, Dec. 8;
  • Luke Marion Pond, Moore County, Dec. 6;
  • Salisbury City Lake, Rowan County, Dec. 13;
  • Salisbury Community Park, Rowan County, Dec. 13;
  • Tumbling Rock Reservoir, Surrey County, Dec. 6;
  • Yadkin County Park Pond, Yadkin County, Dec. 5.


Oak Island fishing school scheduled

Saltwater fishing schools appear regularly on calendars across North Carolina, most of them set for winter months when most fishermen can only dream about speckled trout, flounder, puppy drum and mackerel.

One of the best going is the Oak Island Saltwater Fishing School, which is scheduled for March 2, 2024 at Ocean View United Methodist Church on Oak Island, presented by the Oak Island Friends of Parks Foundation.

The reason? It features a couple of North Carolina’s top saltwater experts, Butch Foster and Jerry Dilsaver, who will lead seminars on catching speckled trout, flounder, redfish, black drum, Spanish and king mackerel, bottomfish, plus surf-fishing and using a cast net.

Participants will receive manufacturers’ samples from dozens of sponsors, plus door prizes. Lunch is included.

Cost of the school is $75 with advance registration, $85 at the door. Attendees can register at the Oak Island Recreation Center or by application downloaded from www.captjerry.com. Christmas and birthday gift certificates are available. For information, call 919-279-6760.