BassWestUSA - September/October, 2009, Page 35

Thomas remains active on the water, and he maintains sponsor relationships with many fine companies. ranger Boats, mercury outboards, mo- torguide, nichols Lures, Black dog Bait company, reaction innovations and powell rods are products he uses every time he hits the water.

the first bite I got was a seven pounder that straightened the hook on my little green jig. I sat down and tied on a thinned out black jig with a white Doo Lolly worm as a trailer.” He returned to the bush and caught bass up to five pounds on four consecutive flips. Verner was getting mad by then, and quit talking to Thomas except to say he was going to protest him for backseating his part- ner, to which Thomas responded by moving to the back of the boat, flipping to the other side of the bush and catching another keeper. “I told him I was only going to show him once that I wasn’t hogging all the fish, and then I went back to the front of the boat,” Thomas said. “We got back to the marina and he told me he wasn’t going across stage with me, meaning he was going to protest. I told that 6’2” rock hard man to pick the battle ground, and that he might chew me up, but he was gonna get bruised in the process.” Verner laughed and told Thomas he was wondering how long it would take to make him mad; he walked across stage. Thomas would catch one more three pound largemouth in Theodosia Marina the next day, which was enough to close out the victory, his first on the National level; now, Flippin’ was on its way to prominence, and Thomas was on the way to becoming known as the Father of Flippin’. Myers remains proud of his old partner, and proud of what they accomplished. “I think Dee deserves all of the recognition that he has gotten, and anything else that could come his way,” said Myers. “The best way to describe his impact on bass fishing is to say that there is a piece of him in just about every bass boat in the world; not too many people can say that.”

For Thomas, who retired from a career at Safeway with a full pension, life couldn’t be any better. Though he’s beginning to show his age at 72, he continues to fish competitively despite needing a constant supply of oxygen; a result of 36 years of smoking. While it may seem dark, the vision of Thomas on the water with his oxy- gen tank does nothing more than to add to his career reputation of his hardnosed, competitive nature, and heart. “I’ve got no regrets, I’ve done everything in the sport I’ve want- ed to, and I’ve got five kids, 13 grandkids and four great grand- sons that I love; I’ve had a good life,” Thomas said. “I’ll keep fish- ing tournaments until I can’t get in the boat any longer and fish, and why shouldn’t I? I’m still cashing checks. My only goal is to live long enough to take care of Terry (his wife of 40 years come


2010), she’s done that for me all these years, I owe her that much.” His com- petitive career is sufficient to have written his ticket to anywhere the sport could have taken him, and it would have been enough. What he leaves behind when all is said and done is so much more; it is a legacy of impact. That’s why he is Dee Thomas, professional angler, innovator, inventor and educator – Legend of the Sport. BW

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September/October 2009