Mr. Lonnie Stanley certainly doesn’t need any introduction from me. If you have been bass fishing the last 40 plus years, you already know him.
Lonnie has owned and been the figurehead of the Stanley Jig Company for many years and since joined with the Hales to form Stanley/Hale in Huntington Texas.
My first introduction to Lonnie was through Uncle Bill Fondren in the smoke filled dining room of the Stump restaurant on Sam Rayburn Lake in Texas. Bill had worked us over pretty good about a boat sponsorship and used Lonnie as bait to get us to come down and shoot a show. Well, it worked. We came.
Now you’d think my first trip fishing with Lonnie would have been on largemouth but instead was for (of all things) white bass on the muddy Sabine River in East Texas. Im not sure we could have had a better time. The fish were plentiful and I saw for the first time as many before me, just how great a fisherman Lonnie was.
Time has certainly flown by since that first trip on the Sabine. We have chased bass together on a number of occasions on various lakes throughout Texas. He being a lure manufacturer I have gotten a better understanding of how baits are made. While I am fishing he may be in the bottom of the boat tinkering with a lure to make it swim different or adding color. His mind is always on how to make the perfect bait.
His wisdom is unheralded but his humor is what makes Lonnie a blast to be around. On a lake near Lufkin Texas a few years ago we were shooting a show and kept noticing the alligators that were on this lake. Me being a Midwest guy, I was not use to seeing so many and so many of this size! One particular gator caught my eye. He looked enormous so I trolled in for a closer look. Upon getting a few feet from I acknowledged how big he was on camera. Without cracking a smile Lonnie blurts out “I don’t care how big he is I just care how HUNGRY he is!” We laughed and let the big reptile be.
I have also caught my biggest bass with Lonnie present. Note, I said present, he wasn’t fishing with me. On this day near Conroe TX Hunter Cole of Pure Fishing met us for a couple of days of fishing and I wanted he and Lonnie to do a show together. I was in the chase boat but staying close by to give a little direction here and there if they got off script and yes they did several times. Well, I was doing a little recon down a moss-covered bank and kept noticing large swirls in the vegetation and yelled they should try here. In fact asked them repeatedly but only got “this is our show Mr. Director we’ll fish where we want” laughingly. Ok then.
When the shooting ended we had our boats ashore I told them again about the big bass I saw earlier on this very bank and made a cast with one of Lonnie’s ribbit frogs. No sooner than I started cranking it toward me, a huge explosion came from the depths of the moss bed and this huge bass engulfed my ribbit frog. I fought this thing for what seemed like 20 minutes and upon landing her, we estimated she weighed over 11 pounds! Well, for a beast like this pics had to be taken and of course, the crowing commenced from me about how this could’ve been them if they’d only listened. So, as I was heading to the back of my G3 Boat, I slipped, fell and you guessed it, dropped my monster bass into the where she came. The only words I heard were from Lonnie “that’s a good place as any to release her”.
Over the past 10 or more years my relationship with this bass legend has grown to more than friends. Lonnie has become like a family member and we stay in contact weekly. He’s had a few health issues and I worry about him being on the water but you know, if and when that day comes for this great man, I hope he’s doing what he loves to do…fishing. They don’t make them like Lonnie Stanley anymore. What a shame too, we could use many more just like him.