DEEP CREEK LAKE -- The unassuming fellow at the bow of the bassboat reminds me of the late Joe Brooks.
This tall, gray-haired man is serious, calculating and methodical Before each cast he studies his target.
There are no random casts; each is to a fish. He expects a strike That's why he casts.
Like Brooks, there is an aura of confidence. I detect hi professionalism, his subtle pleasure in challenging fish -- and his ability to catch them.
You might say -- and not derisively -- he is a plodder. No flash, n foot stomping, no wasted motion.
A fish rolls close to the shore. He sees it, but it can wait. He wil finish his retrieve first.
He casts a small white spinnerbait to where it swirled. Soon h gently releases a nice smallmouth into Deep Creek Lake while surveying his surroundings for the target of his next cast.
Meet Bill Teeter, a retired dairy farmer who is possibly -- mak that probably -- Western Maryland's best, and best known, bass chaser.
He only started serious fishing in 1983 when the cows were sold but was on his way up in competitive bass circles. His goal was to be a full-time pro. Then he got sidetracked.
Last year he suffered a stroke.
Physical woes lessened his vigor, but he still has the big thin that counts in competitive fishing. He knows his fish -- and his waters.
This is what reminds me most of Brooks, the fellow fro Baltimore who ended up teaching kings to fish, and doing some of the most authoritative writing ever published on his sport.
Before he died nearly 20 years ago, anglers everywhere argue who was the best with a flyrod: Joe Brooks or Ted Williams?
Brooks was cool, deliberate and a student of fish; Williams wa colorful, cocky, and with reflexes that could set a hook in a fish almost before it touched the lure.
I'd bet on Brooks.
From his large, well-organized tackle box, Teeter selects an ol Bomber Long A surface plug of gold and chartreuse, which he says is a killer in clear waters.
He works it fast a couple seconds, pauses, and starts again. It i blistered by a 2-pound smallmouth. This is on the first cast of the lure.
Teeter likes smallmouths, but surprisingly he says largemouth can be tougher to get. "They're more iffy. In tournaments, I get the smallmouths first, then switch to largemouths, and cull the smaller smallmouths."
He guides the boat near some docks with a hand tiller. His leg aren't up to handling foot controls yet.
But, he's making progress. Slowly.
He casts a white buzzbait only a few inches from the dock -- an a respectable largemouth is released. "These fish won't come off the docks; you've got to put the bait right to them," he says softly.
It's the easiest to catch reservoir fish in spring, he adds. "Then i starts getting harder and more challenging."
We cross the lake to the boulder-lined shore at Deep Creek Lak State Park launching ramp. "It's so good here that some tournament fishermen just lower their electric motors and start catching. Sometimes they never have to use their big outboards; they do all their catching right here." He suggests I try a No. 2 Mepps spinner of gold. My first cast gets a 2 1/2 -pound smallmouth. "Gold spinners are best on lakes," he says.
What's the difference between catching smallmouths an largemouths? "Not much," he responds. "Just use smaller baits and lighter line for smallmouths. They're more wary."
Now we're working the grassy shore of a cove. He throws a larg white spinnerbait -- he likes white with strips of glittering Mylar in the tail.
The lure touches down; immediately a 5-pounder smacks it jumps high and spits it out.
There are no excuses. Teeter moves on, makes a mental note o the spot, and knows that fish will try again another day. And so will Teeter -- he can wait.