Fishing With Bubba
I got an email awhile back from a fellow named William Paris Junior. For those of you not familiar with his given name, Mr. Paris is better known as Bubba Paris who retired from NFL football after a long career with the San Francisco 49ers. To say Bubba Paris was a pretty good pro football player is a bit of an understatement. He played under Coach Bill Walsh and with the likes of Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. Bubba received three Super Bowl rings playing during the Niners’ glory days.
What most folks don’t know is that Bubba Paris is also a heck of a bass angler. Never having met the gentleman, I was surprised when his email showed up in my in box. Bubba offered to take me out in the Delta on his custom bass boat and show me how bass fishing really should be. Naturally I was delighted and quickly gave him a call. We had a delightful conversation and made a date to go fishing. I showed up at Bubba’s home in Mountain House at six o’clock in the morning a few days later and off we went in search of Largemouth Bass.
As a youngster, I was raised using a fly rod and casting for trout in the wilderness streams of the Sierra Nevada. Although I own several spinning rods and occasionally use them in the delta, for the most part I am still a flyrodder at heart. I figured that a day on the delta with a dedicated bass angler like Bubba Paris would be a great learning experience. We drove about 10 minutes from Bubba’s house and launched near Clifton Court Fore bay. Blasting across the water early in the morning was definitely a “Hold onto your hat” proposition. After a few minutes Bubba cut the big gas outboard and switched to a small electric trolling motor. We used both spinning and bait casting rigs to toss soft plastic worms to the rip-rap banks.
This experience was about as far removed from wading a Sierra Nevada trout stream with a fly rod as I could have ever imagined. It took me quite a while to get the hang of casting a spinning rod to bass and to recognize the feel of a bass slurping in the plastic worm. Meanwhile Bubba was hooking and releasing nice bass with amazing regularity. Finally though, with some excellent coaching by my bass mentor, I was able to start hooking some nice bass. Bubba is as good at catching bass as he was tackling opponents on the gridiron.
As we were hooking and releasing fish, we had a chance to talk and get to know each other. I found out that since retiring from the NFL, Bubba Paris has become a writer, minister, and motivational speaker. His schedule is packed with speaking engagements all over the country. In addition, he still does some work with the 49ers organization mentoring kids and helping give them the tools to succeed in life. He attends church in Tracy and preaches one Sunday a month. To repay his kindness to me I’ve offered to take Bubba to one of my favorite fishing holes and teach him how to fly-fish. As soon as we can work it into our schedules, we’re going to be back out in the water knee deep in fish and fish stories. I’m betting that Bubba will be a better student than I was.