In Part one of my, “ Biography of an Alabama Fishing Guide “ I left off reminiscing about how I made my first dollar guiding during my earlier years as a teenager.
As a matter of fact on that very eventful day, two anglers paid me $20.00 at the old Warrior River impoundment Bankhead Lake, while fishing out of Lost Creek boat launch.
Twenty dollars! Just to tell them where my first really big stringer of largemouth bass was caught. At the time, little did I know, these two anglers would be my first customers.
These anglers were just the beginning — the first two anglers — of the many thousands of guided clients my future held as a professional, freshwater Alabama bass fishing guide.
I’ve had an obsession since I was a kid. I still do today. It gets in your blood. An infection for which there is only one cure. To go fishing. No, not just any fishing. Bass fishing.
So when I later in life found out I could go fishing and get paid for it, it really fit my lifestyle. But believe me, it has not all been a smooth road, for just anyone to consider traveling. There have been a lot of rough spots along the way.
So, just like in Part One of my Biography, I ask, ” Where do you begin (again) — after fishing most of your life — to try and tell it all? ”
If I tried to tell it all, this could run into a very lengthy article. Maybe even one day I’ll write enough material to fill up the pages of a thick, biography book!
So for now, I’m just going to tell how I advanced my life while fishing, including the many ways one came promote ones self, in this world of bass fishing. This is how I became the entire state of Alabama’s, most well known professional bass fishing guide. Owner of Reeds Guide Service now for over 40 years.
As a teenager I had many distractions. Those that usually kept me from being on the water fishing.
Girls (not a bad thing), riding my motorcycle, taking care of my paper route and then taking on many other jobs afterwards. Of course time spent in school and (ugh) doing home work. I even played drums in one of those small garage bands.
Still, in the back of my mind there were always those thoughts of fishing. I went fishing whenever I could find the time. The Warrior River impoundment Bankhead Lake (impounded in 1916) was my proving grounds.
I caught lots of big bass on the old Warrior and I learned the basics of bass fishing by mostly exploring this massive impoundment, now almost 100 years old…all on my own.
“ The Warrior ” as it was called by the locals, was only 15 miles from my childhood home where I was raised, with two older sisters and one older brother, in a little town called Wylam located about 5 miles south of Birmingham.
The “ Warrior” was about all I fished until I learned to drive. Then, freedom. I had my first car. A soon as I could I then began to thoroughly explore and very intently learn each and every lake in Alabama, and it took some time.
My drivers license might as well have included a fishing license and a guide license. For as soon as I got the drivers license the other two followed. Not only did I begin guiding on the Warrior River / Bankhead lake, I branched out to other lakes located near Birmingham as well.
Two Coosa River impoundment’s, Logan Martin Lake and Lay lake were only 30 miles from Birmingham. Not that far since now I had a car! But I still had to rent a boat to take people fishing in my earlier days of guiding.
Town and Country Boat launch just out of Pell City was where I launched on Logan Martin lake. Paying $3.00 a day to rent a wooden boat. Bozo’s boat launch and Waxahatchee Camp boat launch on Lay lake were also two my favorites.
Now I had a car. An old 1961 F-85 Oldsmobile to be exact. My first!
In the trunk was always a Minn Kota trolling motor, a two by four (for holding the trolling motor on the boat), an anchor, a car battery, a seat cushion, a dip net, an old red, metal Coca-Cola ice chest (for keeping fish) and a fish stringer.
Both of the only two rods I owned (a Lew’s Speed Stick rod and an old yellow Eagle Claw rod) and my two trusty Ambassador 5000 bait caster reels were always in the trunk of my car.
Including my old metal tackle box (I still had only one), filled with all kinds of new fangled bass fishing lures of that time. Like most anglers tackle boxes of that era it featured a glob of melted rubber worms stuck to the bottom of the tackle box.
One specific lure I had just added to that old metal tackle box was, a James Heddon Zara Spook. A lure that has always intrigued me and one that most importantly, had a huge impact on the future of my entire fishing career in general.
It soon became my favorite lure. That Zara Spook topwater lure fooled a lot of big largemouth bass, spotted bass, smallmouth bass and striped bass. It still does today.
Finally (after trolling as far as that battery would take me and my clients in a days time, often far from the boat dock) I knew I had to save my hard earned money and get an outboard motor. It took a while but I did.
I soon bought an old, very used 9.9 Horsepower Johnson outboard motor. It was just like the one my first guided clients (I made $20 off of) had! I had dreamed of owning one since I was a teenager!
I paid $75.00 (every dollar I had and even some quarters from my piggy bank) for that old outboard motor!
There was no room in the trunk for the motor. It had to be stored in the back seat of my car. I reached back and touched it on every trip to the lake afterwards. Just to see if it was really there. At times I still had trouble believing…it was all mine!
Between working a real job and guiding part time, I was drawn more towards guiding for a living all the time. But unknown to me at the time I had many obstacles I had to avoid along the way before that could take place.
First I learned all three of those lakes close to Birmingham. Intently. Logan Martin Lake, Lay lake, and Bankhead Lake were all at least 50 miles in length. It took me a long time to learn how to run and fish each impoundment.
Then I branched out. Guntersville lake and other Tennessee River impoundments, Lake Eufaula, Demopolis Lake, Lake Martin and soon, I learned every lake in Alabama.
I knew where all the boat launches were as well. For although I now had an outboard motor. I had little money for gas. Traveling a long distance from the boat dock was time consuming. So I usually just met clients at a boat launch, where we would fish nearby all day. Back then, making good money! $150.00 a day!
I can remember purchasing my first very own boat. It happened one day as I was hanging around some would-be anglers ( they would be, if they were not drinking beer in the garage) as one mentioned he had an aluminum boat for sale.
I was usually sitting in an old chair in the corner of his garage reading through an entire stack of old, early 1970’s Bassmaster Magazines. Soaking in all the information as fast as I could before we had to go. But the words “boat” suddenly caught my attention.
We went around back of the garage and there to my amazement he uncovered a 14 foot deep vee hull, Ouachita aluminum boat. It was beautiful! Of course I immediately calmed down. I did not want to see the price go up! I made an offer and it was mine!
I needed something to pull it with or I had to get a boat hitch on my old, Oldsmobile automobile. Little did I know at the time I would go through three vehicles (2 cars and a truck) before that old boat was traded for a bigger one!
But that old boat, my very first one, is still a big scene in my memory of my first few years of guiding.
Guiding for a living does have its drawbacks. There are three seasons most anglers want to go fishing. Winter is not one of them. So I had to save my money in preparation for those hard, cold days of each winter season.
If not, I knew my guiding income had to be supplemented with some other form of income. Which usually meant working as they say, a real job!
So I tried other endeavors along the way. All of which pertained to my love of fishing for a living. I began writing in the early 1990’s. I soon became Field Editor for a Birmingham-based fishing magazine called BASSINFO MAGAZINE. This took place from 1990-1997.
Branching out to other magazines, today I now write for about a half dozen magazines regularly, all of which are found located throughout Alabama and the southeastern states.
I now write for at least 20 Internet websites, including my own; www.fishingalabama.com (which features over 20,000 words in fishing info alone for each season).
I now submit fishing tips, lake reports and fishing related articles to many major Internet Websites each month. I’ve been promoting my guide service and my writing on the Internet since it got started.
Most guides fish bass tournaments at some time. I have fished bass tournaments since the early 1980’s, for about 30 years now. To make a name as a good fishing guide (if you fish bass tournaments), you need to win once in a while. And I did!
The early 1990’s… I was on fire! I had finally found another way of supplementing my income by making a living at fishing bass tournaments! (You can see more of my bass tournament accomplishments by clicking on the “about” link located at the top of my website home page at; www.fishingalabama.com)
I won some major bass tournaments, on a lot of lakes, back then. Especially doing well on Logan Martin Lake, Lay Lake and other Coosa River impoundments I fished often. I made the Bassmaster Alabama Bass Federation 12 man state team in 1992.
I won dozens of Alabama Solo Trail Tournaments, including First place in two Solo Trail 2 Day Championships and I took big bass honors many, many times throughout each year while fishing bass tournaments in the early-to-late 1990’s.
I won the first annual Shriner’s bass tournament held on Lay lake, single handily won The March of Dimes Bass tournament on Lay lake, both tournaments featuring over 400 anglers in each event.
I fished with Birmingham Bassmaster’s bass club, getting Angler of the Year, 1st place overall club champion, club tournament chairmen, and I caught the biggest bass in the club in the 20 years since they were formed. It weighed 9 1/2 pounds, coming out of Lake Eufaula, Al.
In 1999 I had my own Television show out of Channel 12 in Pell City called, “Bassin’ Southern Style.” This fishing show featured Logan Martin lake each week.
Then I got my own radio show on radio station WJOX in Birmingham, it was called
“ Fishing Alabama” I owned, produced, and host this very popular radio fishing show heard state wide, each week for 6 years, running from 1999-2005.
More? Yes, there is a whole lot more. Here’s just a little.
In between these fishing endeavors my guiding soon branched out to every lake in Alabama. I became known state wide in fishing circles and I fished among some of Alabama’s top anglers. I just kept on plugging for me and my guide service and winning bass tournaments.
I made lots of bass club appearances, giving seminars to future tournament anglers, promoting new store openings and manning a boat show booth for over 20 years (see; www.birminghamboatshow.com) Including my now 9th Annual, “ Reed Montgomery Kids Fishing Show ” held at the Birmingham Boat Show each January, with over 500 kids and their parents attending each year.
I now have a monthly appearance I make on the last Tuesday of each month on Television. It is on Fox 6 Television featured on their Birmingham based morning show called, ”Good Day Alabama.” It features my “Ask the Angler” Question and Answer session for callers to ask their fishing related questions.
I now own a 20 foot Ranger Bass boat, the best boat in my opinion, in the fishing business. It is furnished and maintained by my sponsor and good friends at Airport Marine. Again, the best in the business! A big difference from that first 14 foot aluminum boat I owned!
I now film bass tournaments for www.airportmarinetrails.com and I film tournaments for; www.anglerschannel.com You can see the results at their websites.
Yes, I’ve had the kind of life many people would love to have the opportunity to have had as well. But like anything in life you make your life long quest, it has not been all that easy. You have got to go out there and earn it yourself. It will not come to you!
No matter what profession you choose, you must work hard at it, to even hope of ever succeeding. I think I have. I’m doing what I like to do, making a living at it and I’m enjoying every day that I’m blessed to be able to physically hold up to it.
Not many people can say the same.
As long as I’m alive, I’ll continue fishing and guiding. That is, at least until the day I leave this earth and join all my old fishing buddies and deceased relatives.
Fishing that Big Bass lake in the heavens. For I’m sure, even after the life we have on this earth, you have another life waiting on you up above, where you just keep on fishing!
So what about this life I’ve had so far? I would not go back and change a thing…
Thanks and Good Fishin’
Reed Montgomery / Reeds Guide Service (205) 663-1504
”Over 40 Years Guiding on all Alabama Lakes”