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Share your memories of Tony here.
God grant that I may live to fish until my dying day
And when it comes to my last cast I then most humbly pray
When in the Lords safe landing net I'm peacefully asleep
That in his mercy I be judged as big enough to keep.
Charles "Tony" Anthony Bean, 63, of Franklin, TN, died January 21, 2012. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force who served during Vietnam,
Tony was a number-one rated Smallmouth Fisherman and Authority for many years. He wrote three books on smallmouth fishing and techniques, had his own TV fishing show, and appeared on many other TV and radio shows.
He claimed that his greatest achievement was being able to spend time with and watch his grandson, Zac, grow.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Jim and Annie Ruth Bean. He is survived by one son, Jay Bean and his wife, Brenda; a brother, Randy Bean and his wife, Diane; and his grandson, Zachary Bean.
By now, most fishing friends and family of Tony Bean know that the world has lost him. He has now left this Earth. Gosh, I’ll miss him. I lost one of my childhood heroes! As a writer, and as a human being, I know that few fans have ever had the opportunity to be rewarded like I was that day in January of 2009—when Tony called ME. He called and asked me to write his last book, The Last Smallmouth. The story behind that call is a sweet one.
As a child, I never got my copy of Tony’s first book signed. I stood in line at the Indianapolis boat show just mesmerized by that smallmouth fisherman guru. At 13 years of age, I wanted to fish like him. I wanted to do all the cool stuff he did in life—making a living by fishing. I never really attained that early goal in my life, but what transpired might just have been better. I was allowed to be the wordsmith that created his last book—his last gift to the fishing world. And I finally got my old book signed! Smiles.
We became close friends quickly. We joked and bantered and tossed fishing ideas around like we were super heroes—“Super Smallmouth Man” and “Robin Writer”. I was blessed by being able to become a kid again and relive those early fishing days of my youth with my hero. It was truly wonderful.
Regretfully, though, I never fished with the man. We did seminars and book signings. We did all sorts of fun things together. But ironically, we never climbed into a boat and fished. It seems so strange now…
It was my loss. But I’ve gained so much in the friendship of his later years, that it was all worth it. I never cast a line with him—but we wrote many lines together.
These below are my tribute to Tony. My hero. In some strange way, maybe I did fish with him after all.
The Ghost of Tony Bean
By Darren Shell
I dreamed that I was dying, as I tossed in sleepless slumber.
The curtain closed, the choir sang, the Lord had called my number.
I felt the chill—like winter’s morn, and I twisted in my sheets.
My bed was a snowy boat dock, frosty boards beneath my feet.
I sat upon a lonesome pier, staring across the waves.
A piercing wind bit my soul. I was lost in my dismay.
“Where do I go from here?” I heard my heart cry out.
Sorrow filled my heart of hearts. Sadness joined with doubt.
But as my sorrow waned, and I braced myself for unknowns,
I wiped my tears and looked to the east— “I’ll do what must be done.”
But a tiny little rumble echoed across the cove in my mind.
Rippling waves teased the surface and coldly crept up my spine.
A ghostly white and frosty bass boat idled to my side
As I nearly wept in wonder. Who could be inside?
The captain smiled at ease. His gray beard wrinkled into waves.
“Don’t worry, Son. The fishin’s good … each and every day.”
“You don’t need your pole or your gear to fish with me today.
We’re both in the Honey Hole. They ALL ‘measure’ where we play.”
I looked into his eyes with the fear of the unknown.
But on this frightening last-time fishin’ trip, I was not alone.
The Lord had sent a savior to “guide” me to the end.
He sent my Angel Hero. He sent to me, a friend.
“Climb in, Bud,” he said. “The winds are from the south.”
“Why … on that point over yonder—lives The Last Smallmouth.”
“Why don’t you and me go catch Her…feel her tug our line…
Then we’ll place Her back for the next one … like you, friend of mine.”
Our ghostly little bass-boat idled out of the hollow.
No one watched. No one cared. No other fisherman followed.
It was just us, as we fished—just me and my super hero.
Our casts were perfect—no snags or binds—the perfect day, ya know?
We fished and fished—and kept chatting about old times.
The smiles were huge. The laughs were hearty. Everything was fine.
But I knew our time was ending—I knew that we were done.
This was my transition to the heavens. This was my special fun.
But Ol’ Tone had another trick he held way up on his sleeve.
He wouldn’t let me check-out of Earth. It wasn’t yet time to leave.
“I think we have time for one more cast … as all the show-hosts say!”
“I don’t think we’re leaving here until we seize the day!”
“Make your ‘one more cast’ right up on that bluff.”
“I think you’ll feel that tug of line. It should be enough…”
So I made my last official cast into the lake of my dreams.
It was a special moment. Miraculous, it seems.
My Lord! My pole hit home, as it bent beneath the weight
As something ‘out of this world’ tugged and tried to shake.
I fought it for an hour it seemed—such a wondrous fight!
Before I pulled her close to the boat, it was nearly night!
Her golden hues sparkled. Her scales twinkled with a joyous feel.
Such a magnificent creature has never blessed a reel!
No bass was ever bigger. Not even ol’ D.L. Hayes’.
This thing could eat my LEG in several different ways!
But we didn’t net that golden fish—me and my tour guide.
We watched her clear lake-surface like it was the Great Divide!
She gave us one last look as she sailed into the blue.
She splashed us with a flip of her tail, and shook a time or two.
But my line went slack … and so did my mind! I lost the catch of a lifetime!
But Tony shook his ol’ gray head. “You know … she’s yours and mine…”
So soon I was back upon my pier, remembering all I’d seen.
I was only sharing time … with the Ghost of Tony Bean.
I’ll never “lifely" wet a line with him. No more will I grasp his hand.
But I’ll sleep such better knowing … he’s in MY promised land.
I guess I’ll never really know just how it all pans out.
But dreamily I’ll remember—when I caught “The Last Smallmouth”.