I often wondered what made George Liddle Sr. decide to bass fish on the Cal Sag.
“When you’re ate up with bass fishing,, when there is a pond, you’re going to fish it,” said his son George Jr. driving back Sunday to Arkansas. “In the early ’80s, we went out there a couple times and, ‘What the heck? There are fish here.’
“Early on, it was small baits, single spins, small crankbaits, doing anything to get a bite. Those baits still work well.”
Near the Y on the Calumet, they got up to 40 bass a day sometimes.
“After that, we expanded and expanded,” George Jr. said. “We loved to fish, didn’t matter where.”
“He was the first one to hit the Calumet and he didn’t keep it a secret,” Ed Bohn said. “He let some of us of know.”
“He taught us how to fish the Cal Sag,” Mike Skwira messaged. “All the tournaments on there now are because of him. I never fished with him, but fished against him … and usually lost!”
George Liddle Sr., 85, died April 6 “surrounded by loved ones.” The family held a private gathering. A celebration of his life will happen, maybe this summer, when COVID restrictions ease.
“He’s a legend in Chicago,” said Bohn, master of bass on southern Lake Michigan. “He put bass fishing on the map in Chicago. I may have done the big lake, But I definitely went to him and asked for help.”
A lot of anglers and boat owners found help from “Big G,” who ran Liddle’s Auto and Marine Repair in Crestwood for more than 35 years.
“If you had a problem with your boat, that is who you had to see, probably one of the best in the country for fixing fiberglass,” Bohn said.
“He would have loved for me to take that over,” George Jr. said. “I loved to go fishing. Because of him, I was able to make a living out of it.
“He helped me chase that dream that I had, any time I wanted to go fishing, he would take me. He did that with so many people. When you are in a boat, those are things you don’t forget, memories you don’t forget.”
At Mr. Liddle’s 80th birthday party, more than 100 showed up. Mr. Liddle certainly touched his son, who made the 1988 Bassmaster Classic and finished 20th. George Jr. has worked more than 30 years in bass boats, mostly with Ranger Boats until 2017 when he went with Vexus Boats.
Mr. Liddle grew up in the south suburbs, his daughter Sandra Liddle said. He and his wife June moved to Alsip in 1967. They met as teenagers and were married for 64 years.
“Every day we knew he was going to be there, really steady,” Sandra said. “He was always happiest when fishing. He didn’t pass that to me, but to my daughter.”
“How many people he reached through fishing or working on boats, it is mind-boggling how many people he touched in one way or another,” George Jr. said.
Things I saw rambling Sunday afternoon: mayapples (not flowering) fruit), and the blooms of spring beauty and large-flowered bellwort. Things I didn’t see: morels or shed antlers. . . . Christian Howe saw hummingbirds and put feeders up more than a week ago. So I put mine up Thursday. . . . Remember, at Illinois Department of Natural Resources sites open during turkey hunting, mushroom hunting may not begin until 1 p.m.
Days like Sunday in Chicago sports remind me of a high-sky day at Heidecke Lake.