Bienville Plantation
There are fishing trips you look absolutely look forward to – they’re so exciting that you write a giant circle with permanent market on a calendar. Sometimes it’s an exotic location (we book the Bahamas almost a year out), sometimes the bite’s on fire, and sometimes it’s the who you’ll be fishing with.

I’m a huge fan of Ron Ryals. I’ve written about my admiration for Ron in the past. He’s been dealt a tough hand, and he never complains. Never. In fact, all he does is smile. The world needs more Ron Ryals.

In 1983, when Ron was just 5 years old, he went into surgery for a heart condition. Complications from that surgery left him paralyzed from the waist down. What did Ron do? He did what any other outdoors lover does. He started fishing and hunting around Live Oak, Florida, with his dad – while in a wheelchair. Scuba diving after lobster – leaving the wheelchair dock side. Chasing after his dreams – with a smile wider than Lake Okeechobee.

When asked if he was ever held back growing up, Ron says, “Not that I can think of, I did most anything I wanted to do. When I was young, spending the time with my dad hunting and fishing, I think it helped me, because I didn’t let the injury get in the way of anything I wanted to do. I am lucky that it happened when I was young, and never knew any different.”

During the early 90’s, Ron and his dad began competing in different bass tournaments with great success. Eventually, he became completely independent, started fishing solo, and 17 years ago began guiding.

I’ve hung out with Ron, met with him at shows, heck we’ve even played cards together (don’t let the smile fool you, he’s a stone cold bluffing machine at Hold ‘Em), but we had never fished together.

That was all going to change. Ron is a guide at Bienville Plantation. What do you know about Bienville Plantation? I knew very little. I knew Ron was a guide there, along with Ray Hill, Jut Parks, and a handful of other die-hard bass guys I know. I also knew a lot of professionals and celebrities fish and hunt there from time to time (which tells me the fishing is really good). I had no idea what all actually happens at their facilities.

I had fished there once over a decade ago, but it was a dark thirty a.m. to dark thirty p.m trip. I didn’t get a chance to see anything other than the back of Ray Hills head while he was working the trolling motor. Now, I was going to fish with Ron and Jimmy Johnson who runs the guides and more at Bienville. As a bonus my young friend Kase Britton was going to join us for some filming with some new toys (camera and drone).

We met Ron at the pro shop near day break and I was able to see him fully in his element. He dropped the boat back, jumped out of his truck, and tossed his wheelchair to the side. Literally. He just chucked it to the ground like he was never going to use it again, and I asked “do you want me to grab that?” he simply said, “Nope. Don’t need it.” Well, I was speechless (and that rarely happens).
He was right. He didn’t need it.
What I saw over the next 6 hours left me a speechless again…
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