Fishing in southern Georgia. Fishing for Bass on one of the top five lakes in the country.
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He’s up before most people even stir. Jack prepares coffee, biscuits, and grits, and not just for him and his wife either. Next you might catch him on one of six radio shows and one television show before 8 am, every day. Around then he takes a nap if he’s not telling stories to guests and anglers.
The circle of wooden, hand-made rocking chairs on the front patio isn’t just for show. Twenty feet away the fish are biting. Jack Wingate is a living legend. He did a tour in the US Navy before returning to Lake Seminole, where he knows the land, the history and the water. He took over a marina and successfully turned it into a camping, lodging, and fishing mecca. Welcome to Lunker Lodge.
Jack started a boys camp back in the mid 60’s to teach boys how to fish. “The first camp we had two boys,” said Wingate. “The following year we had more than I could handle.” He ran this for about 30 years with the help of family and friends.
Just down the road, as the crow flies, passer-bys can stop near the wrought- iron gates, which read, “Camp Recovery”. Jack, being a native, loves to share history with guests and new friends. He’ll walk through the field with you and tell the story of how the Surgeon General built a hospital here, near Fort Scott. Where 107 souls are buried with unmarked graves. He’ll proudly show you the cannon while he explains about fevers and malaria. And point out the road where Andrew Jackson came through during the war.
Fort Scott is now submerged under 20 feet of water, but not forgotten, on an old Indian site. When Wingate, first came back, he used to take a boat over to where the Fort was and collect artifacts, from spears to pottery, before they were sunken to the depths of buried history.
It was here that B.A.S.S was hatched. Bass Anglers Sportsmen Society (BASS) is Ray Scott’s growing brainchild. Jack and Scott met at this spot years earlier and put together the first BASS Tournament. Today there are BASS clubs all over the US and in Japan, Spain, Portugal, and Canada, to name a few countries. According to Scott, there are more than 3,000 BASS clubs. He started holding tournaments in Alabama. The first BASS Classic they hosted had six World Champions in attendance.
When asked why bass, Scott replies, “A heart surgeon doesn’t pull teeth.”
This is the number five lake in the country for catching bass and crappie. Here you’ll find honey-holes from the shallow nooks and crannies for fly-fishing near magnolias and oaks, to the 40 – 60 foot fissures anglers enjoy baiting. Lunker Lodge and Lake Seminole near Bainbridge, Georgia, are home to some of the best-fried, homegrown catfish, and hush puppies.
Only a four to five hour drive from the Orlando area, Lake Seminole is a respite for anglers and those wishing to escape the organized chaos of the concrete jungle below.