A Sidebar to the Legends of the Heartlands
June 16, 2012
I crossed paths with Burton Bosley of Sutton, West Virginia, when he posted a comment about the Dec. 4, 2011, blog entitled "Midwest finesse retrieves; an update." He revealed that he was a disciple of the late, great Chuck Woods of Kansas City, who was the forefather of Midwest finesse fishing.
Since then, Bosley has also been an integral part of the blogs about Woods, which can be seen at //www.in-fisherman.com/2012/03/06/the-puddle-jumper-by-chuck-woods/ and //www.in-fisherman.com/2012/02/26/finally-a-photograph-of-the-great-and-late-chuck-woods-has-been-uncovered/
In the "Legends of the Heartland" blog, which was posted on June 10, we delineated some of the piscatorial accomplishments of Drew Reese and Dwight Keefer in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Like Bosley, Reese and Keefer were disciples of Woods. The blog highlighted some of the many reasons why Bosley, Reese and Keefer adulated Woods.
But we slighted Bosley by failing to note his piscatorial achievements. So, to rectify that shortcoming, here's a short biographical account about Bosley and his multifaceted career as an angler. These recollections of Bosley's past further illuminate why Woods was such an important figure in angling world from the late 1950s and into the early 1970s.
Bosley was born in 1941 in a converted sawmill camp at the mouth of Spring Run, where it merged with Cedar Creek below Exchange, West Virginia. A neighbor lady assumed the duties of a midwife and helped Bosley's mother throughout the birth.
During the early days of World War II, Bosley said that his "parents were part of the WWII diaspora from the Appalachians," and they settled in Rosedale, Kansas, where his father worked for the Sunshine Milling Company.
Bosley described Rosedale as a down-and-out community in Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas. Likewise, he noted that his parents were never affluent, and in essence his father's work days went from breathing coal dust in the Appalachians to breathing flour dust in Kansas.
Bosley attended public schools in Rosedale and was graduated from Rosedale High School in1959. He spent his summers in West Virginia, fishing every moment he could in the small streams for sunfish. During the school year, he would occasional play hooky and spend the day traipsing along the banks of Turkey Creek, trying to catch fish on crudely tied flies attached to a string and a stick. He eventually discovered that Turkey Creek was essentially an open sewer and fishless. Nevertheless, he said that "it made for an interesting, if not confusing, introduction to my love of fishing."
In the late 1960s, when Bosley was in his late twenties, he began working at Ray Fincke's tackle shop on Southwest Boulevard in Rosedale, which was the mecca for serious anglers around Kansas City in the 1950s and '60s. It was at Fincke's that he crossed paths with Chuck Woods. When Bosley talks about those days, he often says: "What a gift it was for a guy from Rosedale to have the likes of Ray Fincke teaching him fly casting and tying and Chuck Woods teaching him the art of bass fishing."
In 1970, Bosley was offered a job inWest Virginia, which he accepted. He explained his rationalization for making that move by stating: "West Virginians are famous for 'going home at the first opportunity.' Our family roots here go back to the 1700s. They say when mountaineers go to heaven they have to be fenced in so they won't go back home."
Through the 1970s and until 1987, Bosley worked a variety of jobs in West Virginia and raised four daughters and one son. He also was a part-time fishing guide. He fly fished for native brook trout and brown trout. He chased stream-bound muskellunges. He also fished weekend bass tournaments and qualified for the state team in the old Bassmaster Federation series.
In the early 1980s, Bosley took a trip to Florida and caught a tarpon on a fly rod. After that initiation, he spent the next several years chasing tarpon and bonefish with a fly rod.
Then a variety saltwater denizens and haunts became his passion. He even attempted to create a fishing resort in Belize. He spent time working in the cockpit of a classical sportfisherman boat on trips from Florida to the Bahamas.
Ultimately, he moved in 1987 from the Appalachians to Florida and lived on a boat in the Florida Keys, where he guided for bonefish and worked the cockpits of sportfisherman boats in pursuit of pelagic species. During this spell he caught marlin from the Bahamas to Haiti to the Kona Coast of Hawaii.
In the late 1990s, he told his wife that he still dreamed about catching largemouth bass. To placate those dreams, they decided to park their boat in Fort Lauderdale, and for 10 years, he fished and guided in the Everglades for largemouth bass.
According to Bosley, the Everglades is a stellar largemouth bass fishery--especially during the dry season. He used to love wielding big topwater baits for the Everglades' trophy-sized largemouth bass. But most of his clients used spinning outfits, which Bosley rigged with Midwest-finesse-style baits, and then he showed them how Chuck Woods would have used them. And by employing Woods' tactics, many of Bosley's clients would tangle with 100 to 200 largemouth bass in a four-hour outing. (Here's a link to a Web site about Bosley's Everglades guide service: //www.forevergladesfishing.com/, and below this blog are several testimonies about Bosley's prowess as largemouth bass guide.)
In 2010, Bosley's wife was beset with some health woes, and they elected to move to the hills of West Virgina. Since the move, her health has improved, and Bosley is once again black bass fishing, utilizing many of the Midwest finesse tactics that Woods' taught him to employ. He doesn't guide, but he does fish with some of his former clients with whom he has become good friends across the past three decades.
He says that West Virginia's deep-and-clear-water reservoirs are ideal finesse venues, and he has had some fruitful days fishing them. But he readily admits that it has been a struggle to catch big bass.
Moreover, the West Virginia reservoirs aren't as fertile as the waters he fished in the Everglades as a guide or the waters of northeastern Kansas that he fished with Woods. Therefore, those 100- and 200-bass outings that he and his clients relished in the Everglades aren't possible to achieve at the West Virginia reservoirs.
Across the decades, Bosley competed in scores of local bass tournaments in Florida and West Virginia, and he has managed to win some. But since his recent return to West Virginia, his tournaments catches have been quite lean. He hopes to rectify this as this year continues to unfold
In contrast to the problematic black bass fishing at the reservoirs around Sutton, West Virginia, Bosley finds that the smallmouth bass fishing in the rivers is delightful. And many river outings are highlighted with a trophy-sized smallmouth bass. Bosley said, "I fish these when I need relief from the headaches of the lakes."
In an e-mail on June 9, Bosley reflected about how his life as an angler was motivated by and revolved around Chuck Woods. Bosley wrote: "Throughout all these years of chasing fish, Chuck was always on my mind, and I was wishing he could have been along on some of these adventurers. I was successful at catching anything I went after because of the lessons I learned from him. (In fact, Marlin magazine had an article several years ago about how bass fishermen made good marlin fishermen. So, the fundamentals of bass fishing I learned from Chuck helped me catch marlin, too.)"
Bosley also noted in the same e-mail that he was constantly thankful for the unending and generous help that Ray Fincke provided to him and Woods.
Thanks to Woods and Fincke, Bosley found the angling world's utopia in the 1950s and'60s perched on a corner of Southwest Boulevard in Rosedale, Kansas.
Here's what some of Bosley's clients said about his prowess as a largemouth bass guide in theEverglades:
I've been fishing with Burton Bosley for over 10 years to date and I find him to be a triple-A rated guide. I personally have been fishing close to 50 years and my wife and I own a small overland yacht transportation company. This gives me access to fish some of the most productive waters in North America. I have a book of dozens of quality guides and Burton is in the top. My trips in the Everglades with him have not only been highly productive but a really good time!
Although catching fish to some may be what it is all about. But I am at a point in life where the total experience is as important. Burton works hard to put you on the fish - he exposes certain techniques that I've never seen anywhere. But the most important thing of all is the exposure to a knowledgeable and quality human being.
Yes I recommend fishing with Burton on a good day or a bad day -- it will always be a good day.
This is a note to thank you for the exceptional day of fishing the everglades. I did not expect to see the abundance of wildlife, the exotic birds and many alligator. The best of course all the action we had in strikes, and the thrill of a big catch, icing on the cake. I appreciate your knowledge of the waters and your eye for a good bait which I was using when I caught and released that beautiful bass!
One last word on the good company you provided, just right.
Thank you again for a very fine time, the incredible vistas, I won't soon forget beauty seen & the great day of fishing! I will surely be back for more! I will remember too, all learned about fishing in those sweet southern waters you know so well. Best of luck to you. I should wish the fish luck, they will need it to stay out of your boat!
Patricia Hayden, West Virginia
We have had the distinct pleasure of having gone twice with Burton. Once, with my grandkids from Canada and once, with adult friends from Canada. From children to adults Burton makes all of his guest feel at home with his gentle W. Virginia manner makes you comfortable in very foreign surroundings.
I was also most impressed with the first class equipment used and his ability to show rank amateurs the proper use of them. We are looking for to our next time on the Glades with Burton.
Gerry Cockerill , Canada
Living in the Midwest and being an avid bass fisherman for almost 40 years, I have often thought of making a trip to Florida to catch some legendary southern bass. I finally had the opportunity recently and made the most of it by fishing with Captain Burton Bosley for 3 days.
We fished several different canals in the Everglades and were rewarded not only with unbelievable beauty but outstanding fishing. Although by his standards the fishing was slow, we caught 25 to 30 bass per day with many being in the 4 to 6lb range.
There were many more opportunities for more big ones; we just didn't land them all. We fished mainly with frogs and other topwater baits but did catch a few on cranks, traps and spinnerbaits. For anyone not familiar with frog fishing, Burton is a master and can quickly teach you the ends and outs.
Trust me, if you want a fishing trip of a life time; spend a day with Captain Burton Bosley. His equipment and tackle is all first class and he will get you into the best fishing you've ever experienced!
Bob Ventura Carthage, Mo