Interview with Lanny Church

family_fishingAs I was picking up my fishing license a few weeks ago, I struck up a conversation with another customer. We talked about our experiences with fishing, my former job at Bass Pro Shops, and the website for which I currently write. In turn, he detailed the presence of fishing in his own life. After a few minutes, he and I discovered that we’ve fished a lot of the same locations over the years. I really wanted to shine a light on the connections that can be made through fishing and the outdoors in general, so I asked if I could feature him as the subject of an interview for the site.

Do you remember your first fishing experience?

I remember I was with my family—my older brother, my mom and dad—and we were fishing at a large pond near where we lived. My brother and I were on one side of the pond and my parents were on the opposite side. My brother hooked a huge carp and handed me the rod to reel it in while he waded out to the water to net the fish. I had never used a spinning reel before and ended up reeling it backwards until the handle fell off and got lost in the tall grass. We ended up losing the fish, losing the handle, and the whole time, my parents were across the pond laughing at us.

When did your interests in fishing elevate from casual to avid?

On our annual family fishing trip one year, I was fishing for bluegill and hooked a rock bass. As I was reeling it in, a pike came out of nowhere and grabbed ahold of it and refused to let go. I ended up landing the pike on my small rod and reel setup! Since that little taste of fighting a big fish, I’ve never settled for less than a lunker.

What is it about fishing that you love so much?

I love the peace and quiet of an early morning on the water; it’s very relaxing. I also love the jittery, you-never-know-when-a-strike-will-come feeling that accompanies the anticipation of hooking and fighting a big fish.

Where have you fished?

I’ve mostly fished ponds, streams, and lakes near where I grew up, but I’ve also done some fishing in the Gulf, for sea trout and catfish. It’s nice to try new areas and catch fish you don’t normally see where you live. I’ll never stop fishing my local waters though; I love seeing what kind of huge fish I can land in the small lakes and ponds of my home town.

Do you have any specific/go-to tackle that you prefer to use?

I’m an “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It,” kind of fisherman. I’ve always been a fan of spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, and spoons and I’ll never stop using them. Any topwater lure is definitely my preferred choice. That sudden splash makes everyone excited and can take the fatigue of a long morning right out of you.

What is your fondest fishing memory?

One summer, while on a fishing trip with my family, I hooked into a HUGE bass. Once hooked, the bass fought and jumped like it was performing at SeaWorld. I had never seen fish fight like that anywhere besides TV. This thing was head-shaking, tail-walking—everything it could to get away, until it wrapped itself under a log. I managed to get him loose and, exhausted, he floated to the surface and let me pull him to the boat. The fish ended up weighing over five pounds, and was 22-inches long!

Where and/or for what species have you always dreamed of fishing?

Two things I’ve always wanted to do are hit Lake Okeechobee for its legendary bass fishing and go on a Fly-In fishing trip for monster muskie.

Any closing thoughts on what fishing has meant in your life?

For me, fishing has been a relaxing way to bond with friends and family. Sharing in a love and common interest is what any relationship is all about. It’s had a huge role in making me who I am today. Whenever I’m in a bad mood or stressed, all I have to do is think back to a memory of a fishing trip and I can’t help but smile.