Interview by Bernie Schultz
Photos by Yasutaka Ogasawara
On March 10th, 2018, the bass fishing community lost a true legend. In honor of his memory and his legacy, we wanted to share a piece he and Elite Pro Bernie Schultz did together back in the summer of 2005.
*Originally published in the Jul/Aug 2005 issue of the Inside Line
Bernie: Guido Hibdon, father of sightfishing. Would you accept that title?
Guido: Well, I accept it, but that was 15 years ago when I could still see!
Bernie: Obviously, sightfishing back in those days was limited to a handful of anglers; yourself, Shaw, and a few others who would do it from time to time but it wasn’t really your or their primary thing. I think anybody that’s been fishing since then credits you with developing sightfishing, at least in the finesse style. What’s your feeling about sightfishing, the way it’s performed today by a lot of top pros?
Guido: Well, it isn’t the same, that’s for sure. I mean 25-pound line, a white lizard, knocking the fish about just to get the damn thing to bite, piss it off to make it bite. No, that’s a totally different deal than what you do, what I do, and Deon, and Shaw and whoever. You can do it that way, definitely, but I don’t think it has anything to do with my style of sightfishing.
Bernie: I was hoping to prompt that response. I agree with you 100%. To me, sightfishing has lost its appeal.
Guido: We used to use natural-colored tubes and little crawfish, and this and that and tinker with ‘em. Put little black eyes on them and paint the very tips of his pinchers orange and all this damn stuff. All in the hell we were trying to do was make a natural presentation and tempt the fish to bite. Today, and I don’t give a damn if anyone agrees with me, I mean a chartreuse bait or a solid white bait, today all they’re trying to do is to make sure it’s in his damn mouth. They’re not coaxing the fish into biting the damn thing at all.
Bernie: In that style you’re not fooling the fish; you’re just pissing him off. I see that as a big problem. Another problem is that back in those days, 90% of the field would not sightfish, only 10% would be alive in the early days of sightfishing, and now 90% of the field is sightfishing.
Guido: Yeah, they all think they can do it. For the most part, they probably all can do it. I’ve really lost interest in it. Well no, that’s not entirely true; I haven’t lost interest. When we go home and fish Beaver, no I’ve lost all interest in it there too, and you know why. But on Lake of the Ozarks, Table Rock, Bull Shoals, and Pomme de Terre – you’d love Pomme de Terre because it’s a tiny lake, crystal clear and nobody on it but musky fishermen. Still takes a little green tube, you know, the little natural-colored bait …
Bernie: It puts the art back into sightfishing.
Guido: Yeah, it’s fun there. Dion and I fished with some press people on Lake of the Ozarks recently and one day was all we had so Dion and Lawson just went lookin’ and found a bunch of them on beds; it was unbelievable.
Bernie: I’m in complete agreement; today they just beat the fish into submission. It’s not about finesse, or fooling the fish, it’s about beating them until they fight. Since that’s no longer your strategy in tournaments, where do you turn your focus now when you approach a lake during the spawn? It’s gotta be tough to ignore the fish that are on the bank.
Guido: Oh, I’ll still look. Just like you do, or Dion, or anybody, but I’m damn sure not looking for the same fish that they’re looking for. You just can’t do it. I’m not going to make myself do it the way they go about doing it. I’ll go and try to find them in more off-color water, you know, as simple as that. And you can; they’re a lot simpler fish to catch if you can do that. But on crystal clear lakes, like Beaver that’s coming up? I’m gonna do something else – I mean I don’t give a damn what everybody else does, I’m going to be doing something different.
Bernie: You touched on a very key aspect of sightfishing and that’s the visual thing. The guys that are using white tubes, chartreuse baits, the big lizard, it’s almost like a visual aid. As much as anything they want to see what’s going on, they want to control the situation better when they have good visual contact with the lure. In the old days, the subtle colors …
Guido: You understand, just like I do, when a bass flares his gills, that doesn’t mean a damn thing. That has nothing to do with it at all. I have drawn so many partners, and I make them turn them back – they are not going to weigh one in that is snagged between the damned eyes or snagged foul. That business of haulin’ off and swinging just because you see the fish flinch, that doesn’t mean a damn thing. I’ve seen them jerk those damn white tubes by them and that fish’ll jump, and in truth she hasn’t done a damn thing except just back up. She flares here gills a little bit and backs up and they set the damn hook. There are a bunch of them on Table Rock, Beaver and Bull Shoals that do that stuff, and in Central Missouri Pro-Am tournaments, but we won’t let them get by with it, not in our boats. Finesse is dead … call me whatever they want to, but that’s an ancient term these days.
Bernie: I remember the first time we fished together. It was on the St. John’s River and it was not during the spawn, but you’d found fish up on the clear runs off Lake George. We went up there and skipped tubes around docks and sightfished cruisers out in the spring in that run and we caught fish. It opened up a whole new world for me because I’d done a lot of sightfishing in the Keys, saltwater fishing, and I just loved what I saw that day. I was really grateful for that opportunity. In a way, it’s kind of messed me up on occasions because I spend too much time trying to catch them like that …
Guido: Me, too! Me, too …
Bernie: And I don’t know if you can really win tournaments anymore finesse fishing …
Guido: On certain lakes you can. Yeah, if we would’ve used our heads, we could’ve at Champlain last year. If they would have a tournament on Lake of the Ozarks, we could there.
Bernie: Right, those are the exceptions.
Guido: Lake of the Ozarks happens to be one of those lakes that is gigantic enough that you can get the hell away from people and still find some fish. They may be harder fish, I mean you may have to go under dock cables and stuff like that, but they’re still there. Dion caught nine three-pound Kentuckys under one cable – twelve beds and he caught nine three-pounders. Those were the meanest Kentuckys that ever spawned; one would swim off it’s bed to get the bait off of another one’s bed. Oh, they were bad little dudes!
Bernie: Let me switch gears. Most of your accomplishments have been on the BASS tour. You won a Classic, Angler of the Year, numerous wins, a front-runner for years. Now you fish the FLW tour. Do you miss BASS?
Guido: I miss three day tournaments. There’s an awful lot of luck that goes into producing in two days. It hasn’t really made any difference in the last couple of years, I haven’t done worth a damn anyway, but there’s something to be said about three days of competition. I wouldn’t give a damn if they had three days of straight competition and then cut to one day, but two days, I really have a problem with it for some reason. I have to clue as to why that is, I just do.
Bernie: You think that’s old school thinking?
Guido: Probably, I’m old enough and set in my ways a lot. You young guys, well, it’s made a hell of a difference. I don’t really know why, it’s just different. Otherwise, I enjoy the FLW.
Bernie: Is it as competitive as BASS?
Guido: Mo god, I don’t really know. I don’t really know now because I haven’t fished BASS for so long, five or six years. You’ve had the same group of guys, to a point, and then all of a sudden you’ve got this handful of new guys that are butt kickers. You know, they’re damn good fishermen. Skeet and those guys from out west, they’re just damn-good fishermen, simple as that.
Bernie: Speaking of the new generation of anglers, do you feel like the rookies are better prepared than they were ten years ago? I feel like we had a pretty good advantage back then because you guys were spillin’ your guts in BASSMASTER magazine, and on TV. A guy could get lots of information.
Guido: What that amounts to is you learned from the old guys, now that next generation that’s coming in is learning from both old guys and you guys. They’ve got a hell of a handful of stuff that they’re getting taught. Boats and motors are better, equipment is better, tackle is better, and electronics – my God, I went for a long time without a GPS. I was too hard-headed to learn it. Hell, I could look at that tower over there and a tree over here … I knew where I was within a hundred yards. I thought I was doing great.
Bernie: I wonder if the young guys today were restricted to no GPS, no navigation, could they make it?
Guido: I’d love to see them go back to what it was – just one year with no electronics, doing it like the old boys did it. Why, they’d be as lost as a bunch of damn coots.
Bernie: The other thing is the number-sharing thing, you know, getting coordinates from somebody that knows the lake. That’d be out the window, too, which would be a good thing. Anyway, the learning curve has definitely changed and these guys are better prepared than ever and they have a lot more information.
Guido: You’ve gotta ask me about courtesy.
Bernie: Tell me about it.
Guido: I think it sucks. It doesn’t exist anymore. Thank God I lived through the era that I lived through. I’ve adapted and I’m better for it. Four or five years ago I had become just about a basket case because of some of the things that were going on. I think I even jumped your ass one time!
Bernie: Yes, you did.
Guido: That was totally off the cuff, my fault. It was one of those deals … it was right about the time when it was all starting.
Bernie: Well, you didn’t know I was there before you saw me.
Guido: No, but it was one of those deals where things were already getting under my skin – I’d let things build up and there were a whole bunch of them out there. And it’s not just a handful anymore, and I’m not going to blame it on the young guys because it’s the old guys doing it too. It’s a shame. Respect for your fellow angler, man it’s going to hell in a hand basket. Thankfully, we still have 80% of the guys, the good guys, and I love them to death, simple as that.
Bernie: They’re professional, and they’re considerate.
Guido: Unfortunately you’ve got the other 15 to 20% that are the most inconsiderate people, and it’s a shame. I won’t name names, but it is a sad, sad deal.
Bernie: For the record, I forgive you for getting mad at me; that was an interesting tournament. In fact, that was a site-fishing tournament and I think that everybody felt like it was between you and me. We were an ounce apart at weigh-in, but to our surprise Clark Wendlet had caught a four-pounder right before check-in that bumped both of us. Cust a lot of money, but that’s part of it.
Guido: It’ll never change. You’re old enough that you lived through that era, or at least a big part of it. Dion, what the hell, he’s been at this 20 years so he’s seen the good part of it. It’s still good, I mean, this is the way Bernie and Guido make their living. I dearly love it, I love competition, but it has its glitches. I would love to say something I just don’t know how in the hell to say it … I do say it to some of them … I damn sure let them know how I feel about it.
Bernie: That’s good. You have a senior presence that …
Guido: (interrupting) There’s not a tournament that … here’s an example – today I got thanked about eight times for nothing more than just being there at the tournament. I’m talking David Walker; every tournament that goes by that little bastard will thank me just for being there, for still being alive!
Bernie: Well, we like it when you’re here. We miss you on the BASS tour.
Guido: Some of them know how hard some of the old boys worked to get stuff where it is today. Ricky and I, we’ve sat and talked, Clunn and I have talked more in the last two years … I mean, we’ve always been buddies, but lately we’ve really talked about this very thing. It’s puzzling to both of us.
Bernie: You think money is the issue? Higher stakes?
Guido: It’s got be; sponsors are putting pressure on guys, and there are a lot of them out there now. I just hope they understand how lucky they are to have an opportunity to fish – they shouldn’t let it cost them their homes and their wives. You know how tough it is to be away from home, Bernie. A lot of these guys wouldn’t do this if they hadn’t been offered that little opportunity. In too many cases it cost them jobs, homes, and family. I wouldn’t do it if Stell (Guido’s lovely wife Stella Hibdon) wasn’t with me … to begin with I probably couldn’t find my way to the damn lake!
Bernie: Your whole crew is kind of exceptional because you’ve always brought your family along with you, and now Dion brings Jill and the boys. When people think about the nomadic lifestyle of a tournament fisherman, you guys kind of epitomize that.
Guido: We had to put the boys in school two years ago. Jill quit homeschooling them – it was time for them to be in public schools. It’s been the greatest thing … God only knows how I hate to see them stay behind now. It hurts me and I know how bad it hurts Dion.
Bernie: I know the feeling, intimately.
Guido: We hunt and fish with them when we get home, but it’s damn tough. We talk to them every night. Some of the guys act like they don’t care. Trust me, that’ll come back and get them.
Bernie: I see that, I see guys that get a little bit of success …
Guido: It’s harder than hell on you, I’ve watched you. I’ve seen you on Joe’s Show (Angler on Tour – Outdoor Channel). By god that’s tough.
Bernie: I think the hardest part of what I do is pulling out of the driveway for an extended trip. That’s the hardest part of the job. Well, so you’re not fishing BASS. You’re totally dedicated to FLW at this point. Is that a sponsor-related decision?
Guido: No, that was my personal decision. I might go back and fish BASS. Jerry McKinnis and I get along great. I mean I like all the guys, I don’t know that many of them at ESPN, but Jerry and I have always gotten along, and I miss Trip (Weldon). Trip and I have always been good buddies. He calls me every now and then and we talk about whatever.
Bernie: I think he’s the best tournament director that’s ever walked. He’s just so solid. He’s honest and straightforward.
Guido: If something’s wrong, he’ll tell you it’s wrong. It’s none of that beatin’ around the damn bush like Dewey Kendrick did.
Bernie: Do you want that in print?
Guido: Hell, yeah – I don’t care.
Bernie: Dion is doing both tours and it’s gotta be taxing. I do both, I know. It’s hard to do justice to both tours. What have you observed in Dion, being his dad, and what he’s going through this season?
Guido: It’s tough on him. He didn’t do it last year, and he kind of got out of the swing of things, the hustlin’ and all that, and we’d always been there, too. Now all of a sudden it’s different – no mom and dad with him. It’s gotta be tough for him. I couldn’t do it. His mom spoils me and he’s damn-near as spoiled as I am! But he’s done well. I don’t need to brag on him. There are a handful of outstanding fishermen and he’s one of them.
Bernie: I’ll say he’s the best draw I’ve ever had. I drew him three times back when it was pro vs. pro in the front of the boat, dog eat dog. He was considerate and still kicked my butt. He’s just a good fisherman.
Guido: I’ve never received, what the hell is that award that he got three different years, Sportsman of the Year Award? Well, kiss my butt; I thought I was a sportsman and here he gets it three times. He’s had a couple of draws that he’d have liked to pinch their heads off, I guarantee that, but I’ve never heard him badmouthed by anyone. He gets along with just about everybody.
Bernie: Considering what the two of you have accomplished together, I think it’s probably safe to say there’ll probably never be another father/son legacy like that, where the father’s won the Classic, the son’s won the Classic, along with so many other achievements. Dion won two majors, the Classic and the FLW Championship – that hasn’t been duplicated, or I don’t believe it has. Dad, how does it feel now that he’s secure? There had to be some anxious times when he wasn’t.
Guido: Damn right. There haven’t been many “gimmees” as some seem to think, and he’s never thought that he was shadowed by me at all, or I don’t think he ever has. We’ve been too good a’ buddies, not like a son and a dad, it’s more like buddies. We laugh and joke … what the hell, we’re buds, it’s as simple as that. If somebody wants to do what we’ve done, well, they’d better get off their butts and get on it. We haven’t really worked at it, it’s just the way we do it; so we don’t consider it work. I have run my butt off for him, to do this or that, and he does exactly the same thing for me.
I can remember Okeechobee – he was young, it was a Super Bass tournament. There I was headed back up the rim ditch and he asked me what time I was coming back. I told him I’d be coming back up through there at 11:00am. When I headed back there he was sitting in the rim ditch waiting for me. He had 12 pounds in the boat on a Rat-L-Trap on the east wall, and my limit was seven at best, so he hauled my butt all the way out there. I caught 26-pounds and ended up third in that goofy damn tournament. That’s the one where … woah … I almost said who flipped me for the boat going into the last day, but I won’t do that. (Editor’s note – back in the boat-on-boat, pro v.s pro days it was considered very bad manners to force a coin flip for which boat to use – the man that was in the lead took his boat, end of story.) Nevertheless … Dion had come into his own – he could fish as good as I could, even if he didn’t think he could. He’d found them that day, realized what he had, and came out there to get me.
Bernie: Do you think a third generation professional is likely in your family?
Guido: Oh hell, yeah! And it could be any of the three of ‘em, but chances are it’ll probably be … well, Payton is good, big enough now he could whip my butt anyway, but it’ll probably be Lawson if he doesn’t lose interest. I don’t see how that could happen, though. He called his dad last night to ask for some more money – he went to Bass Pro Shop and had spent $60 on spinnerbaits, and I build the best spinnerbait there is, but that’s his boy. Payton’s a damn good fisherman, but he’s not as aggressive as Lawson. Thank God there are no more draw tournaments; I’d hate to draw that kid!
Bernie: In recent years you’ve slowed down a bunch. You’re not competing on both tours, and you’ve had some health issues. How have those issues impacted your approach to the game?
Guido: Quite a bit. I like to think I can go as hard as always, but I don’t have the strength that I used to, with the heart problem and the cancer. It’s been hell. It doesn’t bother me, though, and it doesn’t scare me. No matter what happens I’ve had a great life. It’s been tough, but whatever happens, I’ve had a damn good ‘n. But it slows you, and I’m not going to sit here and tell you it doesn’t. I don’t have the stamina – in practice I can go out at daylight and come in at dark, but there’s something about a tournament, the competition, it takes it out of you. I can still go. Hell, I could fish all four days of the tournament, but when two days are done, I crash for a day. Tournaments are tough, and you don’t eat right and this and that. But overall, I feel pretty good.
Bernie: Well you look good. You look like the Guido I knew ten years ago.
Guido: I do feel good, really. Of course I have days when I don’t feel so good; I’m getting arthritis in my hands and shoulders, cold and rain affect me. Once you get a little age on you those things add up. Whoever that bastard was that said, “Age gracefully,” I’d like to knock the hell out of him! It ain’t happening that way, not for me! I hate like hell getting old, I really do. I say I don’t see good, like on beds, or whatever, but I still see them pretty damn good.
Bernie: If your eyes are even half what they were ten years ago, they’re still better than most.
Guido: You gotta know what you’re looking for. That’s probably the key to it as much as anything. But the health issue … what I’ve been through … my god we’ve probably spent a million bucks piecing this old body back together. After my heart problem the insurance is shot; nobody in the world will touch me. But it doesn’t really bother me. As long as it doesn’t bother Stell it doesn’t bother me, I promise you, she’ll keep the old man a goin’.
Bernie: What does the future hold for Guido Hibdon?
Guido: I see all these guys that talk about retiring. Is that a joke? Who are they trying to impress? They’re going to retire and go hunting and fishing … well I do that now so I might as well get paid for it! There ain’t anybody that works at giving a seminar any better than I do, or works a crowd, or their sponsors, or whatever. If I still have to catch a fish, I do that every now and then. But if I had to do it like I used to day in and day out, and that’s what the sponsors depend on, I’d be in trouble. I can still catch them. I still have my times, but what do we have to accomplish, that’s what I’m getting at. How much do you have to do to maintain?
Bernie: Let me say this in closing – Guido, if you never catch another fish, you’ve caught your share.
Guido: Yes sir, I’ve caught a few.