This is the kind of story that I really don’t like to write. It is about the passing of a friend and sportsman from the Kingman community that I’ve known for a very long time.
It is with great sadness that I share with you the passing of long-time Kingman resident and avid angler Jim Kirkwood. Jim died in Las Vegas after having stroke at his home.
I’ve known Jim for many, many years starting way back when he worked for UPS. Jim’s passion for the outdoors, and especially bass fishing, was something that made him stand out to me.
Jim and I were both members of the various bass clubs that have come and gone in Kingman, and I think it is fitting to share a story when I had the opportunity to fish a two-day tournament on Alamo Lake with him that will always stand out in my memory.
I’m not sure which club we were fishing in at the time, but Jim and I were paired up and enjoyed arguably the best day of bass fishing on that lake we ever had.
It started with the first cast of the day, when I tossed a spinnerbait next to a partially submerged tree and hooked up with a 4-pound largemouth, which at the time was a big fish at Alamo.
With that lunker in the livewell, it was a start of a day of tournament fishing that can only be described as phenomenal. But Jim and I had issues. Seems every reel that Jim had put fresh line on was bad, and he broke off almost every time he cast out. He lost a lot of spinnerbaits before he re-spooled with more line.
The spinnerbaits we were using were nothing special. Fellow bass club member Art Fuller told me about the green colored double Colorado blade lure I got from Walmart for $1, and it worked well for bass at Alamo.
We went around the lake and it seemed that around every brush pile there were hungry and aggressive bass. We quickly had a five-fish limit that we knew was going to put us up on the leaderboard, but we needed a “kicker” to seal the deal.
Jim caught that fish, another healthy four pounder, near the dam on a jig. When we went to the weigh-in, we literally blew away the other teams. We were ahead of the nearest team by over six pounds, and it seemed there was no way that Jim and I weren’t going to come out with a good check after Day 2.
But enter bad luck.
Thinking we had the spinnerbait pattern down pat, we hit the water the next morning and started tossing that Walmart special around the trees. However, on this day, nothing was interested in those lures and decided we needed only five fish of any size and we’d have it won.
It turned out that we scratched out just five bass that day, none that were big, but surely good enough to give us the win.
We met tournament director Jim Kirkley in a cove for the weigh-in. Kirkwood took out our five fish out of the livewell and put them in a plastic weigh-in bag that was given to us by Kirkley. As I handed the bag out of the boat, the bag split open, and out went our day’s catch back into the lake.
Turned out we ended up in fourth place even with no fish that day. Of course, fourth place was the first non-winner.
I was upset and thought we should have been given a check, but Jim, ever the jovial guy he was, just laughed and said it was bad luck.
But that was the kind of guy he was. He rolled with the punches and always had a positive attitude.
Jim went on to become the tournament director for several bass organizations, a job he loved. He was well respected in tournament angling circles.
I know that I speak for many when I say how much he will be missed, not only by the angling community, but family and friends as well.
There will be an open house hosted by his family 10 a.m. Sunday at the Graywood Stables, 2576 East Calle Chavez. To get there go to mile marker 14 on North Stockton Hill Road. Turn right and go about one-half mile.
Jim Kirkwood was a friend and a fine man. I will miss him and his smiling face.
Heartfelt condolences to his wife and the rest of Jim’s family. Rest in peace my friend.