Never a Bass this big says coastal convert.
Mike Standing, left, and Bill Dance show off the results of fishing off the coast of Virginia Beach.
By Lee Tolliver
© January 18, 2009
In all his years as a professional bass fisherman, including 40 as an outdoor television show host, Bill Dance never caught a bass this big.
Largemouth bass just don't grow as big as the 47-pound striped bass Dance caught last week along the coast of Virginia Beach.
"The biggest striper I'd ever caught was a 43-pound, land-locked fish years ago in one of the big lakes," said Dance, 67. "That fish was my biggest ever.
"I was tickled to death."
Dance was in town last week for three days of striper fishing, filming for his new television show: "Bill Dance Saltwater."
From its humble beginnings in 1968, Bill Dance Outdoors has been a show dedicated mostly to freshwater fishing.
"We decided to start a coastal saltwater show this year and have been working our way around the coast from Louisiana up to here," Dance said. "Red fish, trout, snook... all the fish you can catch along the coast.
"And we had to do a striper show."
Dance originally had planned a trip to the coastal waters of New York - good striper fishing, but nothing like the winter fishery along the Virginia and North Carolina shoreline.
"This fishery here is absolutely awesome," Dance said. "You can write about it, video it, but you have to come here and experience it - live it - to really understand just how incredible it can be.
"The number of fish and the overall size of the fish is just tremendous. Coming here to catch striped bass is the experience of a lifetime."
Friends convinced Dance that Virginia Beach is far better for fishing than New York.
"(Dance) told me that he had been told to get up with me, and I guess he did some research," said Mike Standing, owner of the charter boat Waterman and founder of the Mid-Atlantic Rockfish Shootout.
"His secretary called me and told me that he wanted to talk to me. I didn't think, at first, that it was the same guy as on TV. "
During his visit, Dance caught plenty of rockfish.
"We shot enough footage for two shows," he said. "We've got lots of video about the city, and we do some takes that show the city and talk about it.
"This is a class-act place for lots of species, but the winter rockfishing is something special. People that live around here should consider themselves extremely lucky."
Dance shot footage of fish caught trolling and more caught jigging with lighter tackle. His first fish was a 49-incher caught on a jig.
"He couldn't believe it," Standing said.
But Dance's biggest fish came after the cameras had stopped rolling.
"We finished shooting early on the third day and I had a half-day charter that afternoon," Standing said. "Even after two-and-a-half long days of fishing, he wanted more and asked if he could come along.
"We found the fish right outside of Rudee (inlet) and immediately had a bunch of them on. I told him we needed him to pick up a rod and help out and it turned out to be the 47-pounder. He was thrilled."
Enough so that Dance plans to return to Virginia Beach to film next year's striper outing.
"If the Lord's willing and the creek don't rise," Dance said with a laugh, using one of his signature sayings from the show. "The people here, the fishing, the fish... it was all just amazing and you can bet we'll be back."
Bill Dance Saltwater airs at 10:30 p.m. Fridays and 10:30 a.m. Saturdays on The Outdoor Channel. He said the Virginia Beach show should air in four to six weeks.