ALASKA — Moses Lake resident Rick Graser has seen and experienced a lot in his life. Having being drafted 214th overall in 1978 by the Seattle Mariners and spending 31 years as a fishing guide, Graser has – needless to say – seen a lot and met a lot of interesting people. But perhaps one of the most memorable experiences for Graser came just a few weeks ago when a trip up to Alaska turned into an unforgettable experience with one of country music’s biggest stars.
Graser was in Alaska to promote Wicked Lures with company owner James Beasley and pro staff at the company. Graser flew into Anchorage and took a float plane about 50 minutes northwest to the Lake Creek Lodge. Beasley has been going up to the lodge for a number of years now; dropping off a couple of thousand dollars’ worth of Wicked Lures gear at the Lake Creek Lodge year after year. Beasley and Graser had heard rumors that there was going to be a big name artist at the lodge, possibly Lee Brice or Luke Bryan, so they had an inkling that they might get the chance to meet a big star while they were there. Graser said he and Beasley went fishing almost as soon as they got there.
“The first day we had a fish on all day, 12 hours,” Graser said.
Graser was able to find out that country music star Joe Nichols, famous for hits like “Sunny and 75” and Gimme That Girl,” and his wife Heather were going to be at the lodge.
“I told James that we need to take Joe and Heather out and let them know about Wicked Lures and how good they are. But most of all we need to take them out to where we got into the fish.”
Graser said Joe and Heather got setup with some Wicked Lures and used them quite successfully for a few hours from land. After they were done Graser went up and introduced himself.
“I told them I’ve got a spot figured out. James and I have been here for two days and we have a spot right around the corner we would like to take you to where there is a lot of fish.”
Joe and Heather agreed to go and see firsthand what Graser was talking about. Joe and Heather traded back and forth while fishing; Joe would land a fish, take the hook out and throw it back, then Heather would get her turn and so on. Graser said the couple were quick learners and picked up the ropes surprisingly fast.
“They were so down to earth. They were easy to talk to and just like us. Very polite. They have they same problems that we do,” he said. “My goal was to not hammer them too much about their industry. I wanted to get them into the fish.”
Being a big-time country music fan for all of his life, the experience with Joe and Heather, not to mention meeting country star Cody Jinks, who was at the lodge as well, left a mark on Graser.
“I got to talk Joe personally, just him and I. I looked him in the eye and said ‘speaking for all of your fans who have wanted to tell you this. Joe we idolize the music you play. We love your music. We are huge fans and I have a special place in my soul for your music.’”
“He said ‘I think that is the greatest compliment that I think I have ever heard in my life.’”
Richard Byrd can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.