Remembering the perfect fishing buddy

Stacy Barbour was one of the author's best friends and the perfect fishing buddy. (Photo by Tim Lesmeister)

Stacy Barbour and I connected when our young sons played on the school basketball team. That was more than 30 years ago.

At the games, our wives would nudge us and ask if we saw the great plays our children were making. We’d have guilty looks on our faces because we were so engrossed in the stories we were sharing about fishing that we’d often miss the game highlights.

Barbour retired at an early age, and I was self-employed; this allowed us much freedom in our schedules and we spent a lot of time on the water. We both enjoyed fishing for whatever was biting, so we had many productive days in the boat.

Some anglers are species-oriented and chase walleyes on traditional walleye lakes, or bass in slop. Barbour and I would target bluegills one day and catfish the next. There were more than a few trips to Parley Lake in the Minneapolis west metro where we would thread the hook with sweet corn or surround it with dough balls and sit in an anchored boat waiting for a big carp.

If you made Stacy choose a single species that he preferred over all others it would have been largemouth bass closely, followed by the smallmouth. Perhaps his North Carolina roots influenced those choices. On one of his favorite trips to Lake of the Wood with a bunch of his walleye-fishing buddies from Honeywell, he spent every second casting for smallmouth bass and the rest of the time harassing his friends about their inability to recognize the superior angling species.

Not that Barbour wouldn’t fish for walleyes. He’d tag along and help out when I was shooting photos with Gary Roach, and everyone would tie on a live-bait rig for walleyes. I’d attempt to get the two to quit fishing and stop telling stories so we could get some work done. Eventually they would.

Stacy’s stomping grounds were the west metro lakes, and he knew them well. There wasn’t a square inch on Lake Minnetonka, Waconia, or any of the smaller lakes in that region that hadn’t felt the presence of Barbour’s Ranger. He just knew which one would have a hot bite on any particular day.

On one trip to Lake Minnewashta, I parked the truck, walked down to the dock, and Stacy was already hauling in a big bass. We fished topwater lures for four hours and never traveled 100 yards from the boat landing. The big gas motor never got started except to put the boat back on the trailer. I asked Barbour if he had ever worked that spot before, and he said he hadn’t, but he noticed a couple of boils on the surface while he was waiting for me.

Stacy always shared his knowledge with anyone who listened. Together we penned several educational articles under his byline, and I interviewed him for many stories over the years. Sometimes just our experiences and conversations in the boat created stories.

Cancer finally caught up to Stacy a few weeks ago. I’ll miss the opportunities to build more experiences with him, but fortunately, I have accumulated a treasure-trove of memories that will keep my loyal friend in my heart forever. He was, without a doubt, one of my best friends and the perfect fishing buddy.

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