Phil & Eva Rambo

By Tim Huffman

           

There are many great people who fish the tournament trails, but one team people admires is Phil and Eva Rambo. They are in their late 70’s, but they still have a desire to compete. More importantly, they are good people and great representatives of the sport of crappie fishing.

 

What are some of the memories fishing has provided? Eva says, “Some of my greatest memories have come from camping and fishing with tournament fishermen. We have met many friends, lost a lot over the years, but have memories that we would have never had otherwise. Also, we’ve gone to Canada for many years and have had great times with our girls up there. All of those times and memories are special.”

Phil says, “Friends and good times is top on the list of memories. Fishing is like being on vacation and we often don’t want to go home. A highlight was when Eva caught the big fish at a Crappie USA Classic on Kentucky Lake and her photo showed up in Sports Afield.”

The team is known for travelling the country with a boat behind their RV. They are easy to spot. Their RV allows them stay at a campground near the lake and it has given them the advantage of being able to stay for weeks instead of renting a motel for a few days.

Favorite place to fish? Phil says, “Grenada is at the top because you can catch a three-pounder there quicker than any other place. There are many good places like St. John’s River and D’Arbonne, but we’ve caught more three-pounders at Grenada than all the others combined.” Eva says she always looks forward to Grenada because they often catch really big crappie when pre-fishing for tournaments. It’s fun.

Phil and Eva Rambo landing a good crappie in Swift Creek, Alabama River, 2011.

Team strength? They try to be good slow trollers but are probably best long lining with Eva in the back and Phil in front.

Team weakness? Both agree, it’s not making changes quickly. Sometimes it’s a matter of just enjoying the fishing or staying with a spot where fish were yesterday instead of changing when they should.

Pet peeves? “Myself. I forget and say a few blue words sometimes when things aren’t going right. Eva fusses at me and I have no comeback because she is right.”

How do you spend time when not fishing? “We have five grandsons,” says Phil. “They all like sports and the outdoors so whenever we can be with them and their parents, we have a bit of time together. Church is a big part of our time when we’re home.”

American heroes? Phil says his dad. Although he says he shouldn’t say it because politics are so controversial, President Trump.

Fishing heroes? Eva says Bill Dance and Hank Parker are favorites.

Boat Food? Peanut butter and jelly, candy bar mid-morning for sugar and maybe an apple. Tea and Coke.

Sports team? Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Cubs.

Fishing tips? Phil says, “The person who concentrates on getting the hookset on the first bite has a better chance of catching the fish. I would rather use a hard jerk because there will be fewer big fish lost. Sometimes a tiny fish becomes a flying fish over the boat but that’s okay as long as the big ones are getting hooked.”

Eva says, “I’m not a fan of wind or current. We’ve learned to get out of the wind instead of fight it. Also, when at a river, we’ll get in an eddy, but it’s usually easier just to get in a creek.”

Funny? “Eva and I were fishing on our home lake. We were on one side of a bridge and I used the trolling motor to quietly go to the other side. I was a school principle and one of my teachers was answering the call of nature with his pants down. There was and nothing he could do but say, “Hi Guys,” as we trolled past.

Something people don’t know about you? Phil jokingly says, “Most of what they don’t know are things I probably don’t want them to know.”

You’re not young, so what keeps you motivated? “I may not be a good fisherman but I love to compete,” says Phil. “By competing, we want to catch as many big fish as possible. That feeling of competing is good. And the old adage says if you retire and go to the rocking chair, you won’t live long. We keep going. We’ve been competing and we don’t want to give it up, but at 79, I’m just not sure about our fishing future.”

Eva says, “I love fishing but more importantly I love getting out of the house.”

Anything else? “I hope every crappie fishermen,” says Phil, “will take their kids out with them, show them how it’s done and how to have a good time. Most kids have never been shown the joys of fishing, which includes watching an eagle fly, an otter or beaver swim by, seeing a deer and sunlight peaking through the fog. In other words, enjoying fishing and all of nature.”

How would you like to be remembered? “Known as Christian people,” says Phil. “Most people respect knowing where others are at even if they are different. Mostly, I would like to be known as a fisherman, one who loves the Lord and tries to live that way.”

Eva says, “What Phil said, along with honest, hard working.”

Home: Bloomington IN
Home Lake: Monroe IN
Ages: Phil boned 1040; Eva in ‘41
Married: 58 years this June
Careers: Phil teacher & principle; Eva middle & high school teacher
Tournaments: -Phil tournament fishing since 1993; Eva since 1997.
-They’ve fished Classics/National Championships with Crappie USA; NACA; CAST, Crappie Masters, and ACT. They’ve fished all Crappie Masters Classics except for the first one, and finished 10th in the 2013 Classic
-Won two tournaments
-Big fish in several events including Crappie USA Classic
-Third in points race two years in a row
Highlights: -Sportsman of the Year in two circuits
-Received Lifetime Achievement Award from Crappie Masters
-Tournament wins and points race finishes