Dusty Anders has a bad case of bass fever.
In his case, it might be terminal.
The 49-year-old from Alexandria operates a part-time guide service (Dusty Anders Guide Service, 318-447-0869) on Toledo Bend Reservoir and fishes as many as 25 bass tournaments a year.
Slightly built and slender with a trim moustache, Anders speaks with a drawn-out North Louisiana drawl that makes him entertaining, even when he’s not trying to be.
Example: I asked the clean-cut angler why he has no tattoos.
Answer: “Them thangs hurt and cost a lot of money. That’s less money to spend on fishing.”
In spite of guiding and tournament fishing, he is still a full-time Alexandria firefighter. With retirement less than two years away, I asked what he plans to do afterwards.
“Fish” was Anders’ laconic answer.
Anders’ father took the youngster fishing from an early age. The younger Anders recalls they would stay in the boat all day, chasing bass, bream and white perch.
Favorite haunts back then were Iatt and Nantachie lakes.
“It was old-school then,” he said. “Everybody ate their fish. It’s amusing; my son Dustin gets mad when people keep their bass now.”
He started fishing Toledo Bend 27 years ago because he heard of the large numbers of fish there.
“You fish one of the smaller lakes near the house, and you catch 15 fish all day,” Anders said. “Over here, (if) you catch only 15 you get kind of aggravated.”
He took several years to learn his way around before he “got up the nerve” to enter a tournament.
“I started as a co-angler, but soon started fishing the boater side,” he said. “(The boater) owns the boat and makes the fishing decisions.”
Why fish tournaments?
He looked at me as if I was daft.
“You want to win money,” Anders said.
He thought a second, and then went on.
“But mainly, you want to show that you can fish as good as anyone else,” he explained.
He is totally immersed — hard core.
At his camp in the evening, all he watches on television are fishing shows. He goes to his bedroom and turns on more fishing shows before he goes to sleep.
“That’s about all I watch,” Anders admitted. “I only watch the news to get the weather. They only have bad things on the news.”
And all he wants to talk about is fishing — unless it’s hunting. He deer hunts in November and December.
“What other hobbies do you have?” I asked.
“Fishing and hunting” was Anders’ spontaneous answer.
“What other interests do you have?” I rephrased my question.
“Fishing and hunting,” he repeated. “The only reason I work is to get money for fishing and hunting.”
He insisted he would still fish if no tournaments existed.
“It’s fun to find them and ketch ’em,” Anders said. “You feel like you accomplished something.
“Look at them fish (he pointed a hundred yard off at bass busting shad in the hay grass). It’s exciting.”