NOTE: They say a person dies twice on this earth, once when the physical body retires and the second is the last time your name is spoken. There are names and memories inside these web pages, some were my close friends and some my family, this is dedicated to keeping their memories alive.
My name is Jim Farmer and I’ve been an avid fisherman for as long as I can remember. My dad was a great outdoorsman and taught me what he had learned over the years which created a foundation for me to carry on the tradition of hunting and fishing as well as enjoying the outdoors. Although my dad lived for hunting season and we did a lot of hunting, fishing was always something I was drawn to and growing up on a little farm in rural Kansas, sometimes fishing was no more than biking to my favorite farm pond with an old coffee can full of worms or some frozen chicken livers and an old Zebco 202.
I fished the rivers, lakes, creeks and farm ponds in the Midwest where I grew up, then after a few years in construction I joined the Navy in Aug. 1982 at the age of 22. After boot camp in San Diego and aviation schools in Memphis my first duty station was a newly formed F-18 Fighter/Attack squadron at a Naval Air Base in central California. My job description in the Navy was officially an “Aviation Electricians Mate” or “AE” for short but in reality, the AE stood for “Aviation Everything” and it always seemed that us AE’s had our hands in every system on the aircraft. If it had anything to do with electricity, we probably worked on it. When I wasn’t working on aircraft my desire for fishing took me to all kinds of fishing adventures out west. I really enjoyed saltwater fishing as well as freshwater and fishing is something I did very often during my off time.
My Navy career allowed me the opportunity to fish a lot of places and myself and a few of my squadron mates always found a way to wet a line during our travels including the very northern reaches of Canada, some wild rivers and mountain lakes from Central Oregon down to the deep blue Pacific of offshore Mexico and a lot of water in between. Some of my favorites out west were freshwater trout from mountain lakes and streams in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range, stripers from numerous lakes and big bass from the trout and salmon rich mountain lakes. I really enjoyed fishing offshore in the Pacific from Morrow Bay to Sea of Cortez, but I was just as happy fishing a mountain stream somewhere in the Sierra Nevada’s. Believe it or not, the California Aqueduct was one of my favorite places to fish for stripers out west. I never caught any very large stripers in the aqueduct, but I did catch very nice eating size and some very nice catfish. It was fun to fish the aqueduct but somewhat dangerous. My favorite striper lake out west was by far the San Luis reservoir and O’Neil forebay. It was a natural spawn lake and where I cut my teeth on stripers in the early 80’s. Perhaps someday I’ll write more about my time fishing for stripers out west and camping trips to the San Luis Reservoir/Oneil Forebay. During my time in central California, I had the pleasure of serving on 2 of 5 Aircraft Carriers, the USS Carl Vinson and the USS Ranger.
After 6 long years in central Ca. my next duty station took me to San Diego, Ca. where I was assigned to a F-14 Fighter Squadron at Naval Air Station Miramar. It was just a year earlier when the movie “Top Gun” was released and the interest in F-14’s and Navy Fighter Squadron’s was at its peak. It was short lived though, because of the “Tailhook 91” scandal and the start of the first Gulf War. It was a pretty crazy time to be in a fighter squadron and I could spend days writing about our adventures.
There were plenty of freshwater lakes around San Diego and I fished a bunch of them, but I loved going offshore. We also fished the kelp beds outside Point Loma and the vast San Diego Bay. It was kinda interesting to have one of the massive aircraft carriers pass our little Boston Whaler while fishing in the bay and a few weeks later I’d be standing on the deck of that same carrier as it passed through the bay. When we traveled with the squadron we always fished if we had the opportunity. We did a lot of training in the Nevada desert so if we had a weekend off, the mountains were only a short distance away. Usually, we would wind up camping in the Truckee River area near the Nevada/California line where trout fishing was a blast. During training in the summer desert heat, the mountain streams were a great way to cool down and unwind after a long week of working on jets if we got a weekend off. If you’d like to read more about the jets and my time in the Navy, check out my “Sea Stories” category for some of my Navy adventures. During my time in San Diego, I had the pleasure of serving on 2 more of the 5 Aircraft Carriers, the USS Nimitz and the USS Independence.
By this time, it was 1993 and after spending a total of 2 extended tours and almost 12 years in central and southern California my next tour took me to a small air base in the deep south of Louisiana and Fisherman’s Paradise for some of the best inshore and offshore action the Gulf has to offer. I was assigned to another F-18 Hornet squadron at a small airbase along the Mississippi, just south of the New Orleans area. We traveled a lot in the squadron but when I was at home the marsh was just a few miles down the road and the base had a pretty nice golf course. It was pretty awesome to fish the marsh in the morning, play on a golf league in the afternoon and go straight to my softball game in the evening. It doesn’t get any better than that for me and fishing, golf and playing ball all in one day is a perfect day. Fishing was great down there and four years of catching redfish and speckled trout in the marshes of Louisiana as well as some of the best offshore action for Tuna/Wahoo was more than my words could ever describe. Myself, and some of my squadron friends had a blast running around the marsh targeting redfish and speckled trout.
One of my favorite fishing stories from my time in Louisiana is called “Man Camp” and describes one of our fishing adventures to a fishing camp we came to love out in the marsh. The story Man Camp is dedicated to my good friend and retired Master Chief, Jerry Thomas. Jerry passed a few years back, but I’ll never forget the impact that Jerry and his wife Kath had on my life. I would consider Jerry one of my closest friends during my time in Louisiana and Jerry taught me a lot about life. Give it a read one day.
Another good one is called “A Sharks Tale” and that is a story about an offshore tuna trip with a twist 70 miles offshore in the gulf. Feel free to check it out in my “Fishing Stories” category.
The F-18 squadron life was fun and somewhat laid back during my time in Louisiana and I guess that’s why they call it “The Big Easy”. It was quite a culture shock for me, coming from Southern California and the F-14 Tomcat life of running around at 90mph with my hair on fire. I got to spend a lot of time in Key West with the squadron and I also served on the last of 5 aircraft carriers with the squadron, the USS John C Stennis.
Then it was on to the southeast for my twilight retirement tour. For my last tour I wanted to end it in another squadron, so I spent the last few years in another F-18 squadron at an airbase just north of Atlanta. After spending four years at a Naval Air base in the suburbs of Atlanta and a 20-year Navy career, I dropped my retirement papers and retired just off the shores of Lake Lanier in north Georgia. For me the Navy was a great adventure, and I enjoyed working on the jets and family type atmosphere of squadron life. I guess you could say that I dedicated 20 years of my life, and the Navy gave me 20 years of adventures in return, so it was a good trade.
Shortly after my retirement from the Navy I was contacted by a recruiter for Lockheed Martin in Marietta to see if I would be interested in working on the F-22 program. Since the program was classified, there was a requirement for a clearance before you could work in the program, and I had the clearance which would save Lockheed several thousand dollars to obtain the clearance for me. I was hired on by Lockheed as an electrician and went to work on the F-22 program. Work was slow on the production line since the jet was very new and we were building the first lot to send to the Air Force. There would be days that we would be at a work stoppage because of some problem so I started working part time at another area when the F-22 work was slow. The area I would go to work in my spare time was called “the bird cage” and it was mainly older folks working at electrical benches to build all the electronic panels that went into the C130J production aircraft being built on site. It was the coolest job I had at Lockheed. All I did was build relay panels at a work bench all day while listening to my Walkman. I worked off a wiring diagram and all the parts I needed were in a basket on my bench every morning. All I did was build it and send it on to be tested before being installed in the aircraft. I eventually took a salaried position as a technical writer for the C130J program and to put it in layman’s terms, I wrote the “How To” manuals for a few different foreign countries as well as the US Air Force and Marine Corps version of the C130J. I handled the bulk of the electrical as well as electronic warfare manuals. It was a pretty cool job but I really wanted to get out of the cubical and back on the aircraft, so I took a job working on the C5 program and helping with the modernization of the cockpits. Shortly after taking that job, I ruptured a disc in my back and had to have back surgery some I quit my job at Lockheed to do something a little less strenuous and closer to home. That’s when Cast Away Bait and Tackle was born.
If you’re still reading this, you can probably tell I’m long winded. Recently, I sat down with my friend Jack Young from The Seasoned Sportsman podcast and we had a 3-hour long conversation about fishing as well as a few stories from my days in the Navy. Here’s the video:
More than 10 years ago my wife Lisa and I bought a little double wide trailer on a lake lot on Lake Lanier and used it as a weekend getaway just 7 miles from our main house. Three years ago (2018), Lisa and I sold the main house and tore down the old double wide on the lake and we built our dream home. Lisa and I found the home design from a local architect and tweaked it to our liking. Building a custom home on the lake was quit an adventure for us but now the lake is just a few steps from my back door so follow along with my most recent adventures on the lake and beyond.
“I’ve learned a lot about fishing over the years and I would like to pass along my experiences, knowledge and expertise to ya’ll so go grab a beer or your favorite cold drink and Enjoy“.-Jim Farmer
Thanks, very informative. I’m fairly new using live bait. Home lakes Allatoona and Lanier. thanks again ……sonny
Where are you getting your big gizzard shad?
I am more interested in F-14s, but I can relate to the joy of fishing even if I never went fishing.
Thank you for your service Jim. I enjoy your videos. Also retired (not military), fishing Lanier is a huge challenge for a northerner.
Wow! Your life story is amazing.
I started fishing as a young kid and wet a line every now and then. I just retired. I worked at Lockheed Martin for 20+ years, where I worked on Avionics Mission System / Pilot Systems on the F-22, F-35 and F-16 programs.
Do you do chartering / fishing sessions? If so how much?
James, I don’t charter anymore. I mainly fish a few hours for fun when I get a chance.