Here's one angler way ahead of the learning curve

  • Connor Mackey is one bass angler well ahead of his years.

    Connor Mackey is one bass angler well ahead of his years. Photo by Mike Jackson

Updated 11/9/2011 1:03 PM

As I walked up the driveway, I could see a lone figure on the shoreline in back of the house.

It was a youngster with a casting rod in his hand. I stood there watching as he continued cranking off cast after cast. He was oblivious to my presence some 50 feet behind him.


For me it was like watching an angling pro warming up for a tournament. After a dozen or so casts his mother called him and told him I had arrived.

I was there to interview 15-year-old Connor Mackey, a high school freshman who embraces fishing and ice hockey as if those sports were part of his genetic makeup.

The Mackey family live on a beautiful, private lake near Barrington, and Connor spends some his free time throwing lures for largemouth bass.

"Come see my room," Connor said. "There are pictures I plan to show you."

His bedroom was a spotless shrine to his two passions: ice hockey and bass fishing. Connor's twin brother said his bedroom was off-limits to guests, so I assumed he is the opposite when it comes to neatness. I was here to see what Connor had to display.

I was encircled by color pictures of Connor and some of his friends, with and without fins and scales. For me it was like looking back to when I was 15 and displayed hundreds of fishing pictures for friends and family to see the results of my explorations and catches.

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Connor reported to me his biggest largemouth bass measured 23-inches and weighed 4.7 pounds. Was that a guess on his part? Absolutely not.

He opened his tackle box and showed me his scale, which goes with him everywhere he drags his rods and reels. He then pulled out a grouping of plastic boxes, with each one holding various lures and plastic baits.

It was then that I asked Connor if he ever switches to a spinning rod and reel.

"Not that often," he said. "I feel feel more comfortable with the casting rig."

At the end of the interview I asked Connor what he likes so much about chasing bass. His answer was nearly identical to others I've heard before.

"I like catching fish," he declared. "It's different than anything else I do and it makes me think and keeps me in a patient state of mind. But one thing really bugs me is that I hate losing a fish after it's hooked. I'll be out on a lake for five hours trying to figure out where the fish are hiding. It's a challenge, and I truly like that."

If I had a magic wand, I would line up 5,000 and have them fall under that spell. I would convert them into Connor clones and have them teach the uninitiated how to use a fishing rod and enjoy the sport of angling -- instead of, say, texting.

And that's when I asked him about any girls in his life. Connor admitted he isn't at that stage yet. But I suspect if a pretty young lady came along and made a 50-foot cast with her own rod, that may present a worthy challenge.

• Contact Mike Jackson at, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM.

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