Text and Photos By Roger Mosley
My first love is catching largemouth bass. I keep a 14-foot aluminum Tracker at my cousin’s house in Texas and use my mother’s Dodge van to tow it to the lakes and reservoirs when I’m there. When I’m visiting my parents in central Texas, I’m usually not in a tournament frame of mind. I’m not concerned with competition; I just enjoy fishing for fun. I fish for largemouth and white bass — mainly on lakes Belton and Waco, but also on the Fayette County Reservoir — and release the largemouth. I am mainly a shallow-water fisherman when targeting largemouth. I enjoy casting to shoreline cover — weeds, stumps and laydowns — and skipping baits under boat docks. I fish an assortment of baits: soft plastics, jigs, crank baits, spinner baits, whatever works.
Roger Mosley, 68, (above) was a fisheries technician in Washington for 40 years, mainly in salmon and steelhead stock assessment on the state’s north coast rivers. Since retiring, he has time to visit family in central Texas, where he enjoys fishing and rambling along the back roads, taking pictures of Americana. Countless hours spent walking streams and rivers sharpened his eye for fish and striking images. More of his work is at facebook.com/roger.mosley.9.
I also enjoy wading and bank-fishing streams for white bass during the spring, when they move from the reservoirs up into the streams to spawn. Whites are keepers for me. They live just four years, so there are a lot more of them than largemouths, which live much longer. They’re really fun to catch and provide a great fishing opportunity when they migrate upstream each spring in vast numbers.
At times you can see them blasting their way upstream in large schools, usually swirling around in the pool “tail-outs” and along the margins of the stream during spawning. It’s an amazing sight. I cast small marabou or soft plastic jigs on light spinning gear for them. If stream flows are up and fish are moving upstream, they bite aggressively.
On the lakes in summer, in the heat of the day, baitfish — shad — sometimes feed on the surface, bringing up whites and largemouth bass. These “schooling” largemouth usually are not large, but still a solid 1-1/2- to 3-pound fish. Fishing can be fast and furious during schooling as whites, largemouth and other species feed on the shad.
Tom Lancaster (in the photo at left) is a fishing buddy of mine. I met him one morning several years back as I was fishing Lake Belton for the first time. We were each fishing in our own boats. I was not catching anything, so I motored over and started talking to him. We ended up on the beach eating our lunch and talking fishing; we have been fishing together ever since. Tom was raised in Troy, Texas, and lives in the same old house he was raised in, built by his dad. We both enjoy fishing for largemouth and other fish, and we look forward to wade fishing in the Navasota River each year for white bass. Our fishing interests, our itch to fish and our stamina are similar, so we fish well together. Tom, who is retired from truck-tire sales, once told me when I was sick, “Get well, Roger. Good fishing partners are hard to come by.”
Tom is a great help to me as a photographer. He grew up in central Texas, so he knows the area and enjoys showing me the countryside. Rural Americana describes much of my photography, in Texas and at home in Joyce, Washington. I’m drawn to old buildings and rural landscapes. I guess it reflects my lifestyle. My wife, Linda, and I live on a 5-acre stump ranch — cut-down timberland — on the Olympic Peninsula’s north end. I heat my house and water with wood, eat a lot of fish and venison — when I’m lucky enough to harvest a deer — and tend two large gardens, so we live kind of like pioneers.
One morning, Tom and I were supposed to go bass fishing but it was too windy, so we drove around looking for photo opportunities instead. We ended up in Westphalia, an old German community east of Troy. We visited an old store that had been part tavern, part grocery and dry goods store when Tom was a kid, later a restaurant. Tom well remembers visiting the store with his parents. Anyway, as luck would have it, we coincidentally bumped into the couple who own the store, which is not open to the public. The owners were kind enough to let us in so I could photograph the inside. It is used today as a hall for special events — weddings, family reunions, birthday parties.
Tom also introduced me to Green’s Sausage House, a café and meat market in the unincorporated town of Zabcikville, population 40, a town named for the Czech Moravian family that founded it in 1855. At lunch, the café is buzzing with farmers chatting and chowing down on Green’s (locally) famous sausage specials.
Back home in Washington, I’ve fished rivers and streams for salmon and steelhead, sometimes from the bank, other times from drift boats. I’ve also fished offshore for lingcod, salmon and halibut, and fished lots of bass tournaments in western Washington and Potholes Reservoir in central Washington.
My bass boat in Washington is an 18-1/2-foot Skeeter powered by a 175-hp Mercury Pro XS. People on the peninsula are not used to seeing sleek, high-powered bass boats, and fishermen sometimes ask what I need all that power for. On the lakes, especially, 14- to 16-foot aluminum boats with smaller engines are preferred.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that serious fishermen in Texas and Washington — anywhere, for that matter — are pretty much the same. Techniques and gear vary, but attitudes, personalities and the raw desire to catch the most and biggest fish remain the same. They all really get into their gear and love the latest innovations.
You can make fishing low-key and relaxing, or you can make it as stressful and competitive as you want. That, too, is the same no matter where you go. There was a time when I was pretty high-strung. If I prefished a lake before a tournament, I could really be focused — intense — during the tournament. Even today, if I go into a tournament and start catching fish, I get pretty focused, but I try not to get stressed. For me, that’s not what fishing’s about.
I’m a self-taught fisherman and photographer. I’ve fished on my own since I was 12. I dabbled in photography until October 1983, when a National Geographic photographer, Sam Abell, spent two days following me as I surveyed streams for spawning Chinook salmon. Watching Sam set his gear up for photographs was like a college photography course crammed into 48 hours and was a big inspiration for my photography.
(This conversation was told to staff editor Jim Flannery.)
Click through the gallery below to see more of Roger’s work.