Before I begin, I would like to thank the people in my life that have been not only a blessing, but also very tolerant of my passion for fishing. Number one on that list would be my wife Bonnie. Since 1981 she has been by my side and has put up with some crazy things in the garage. She calls it "The Mad Scientist's Lab". She is truly my soul mate and best friend. She is also quite a talented artist and extremely creative. One of the many things I recall early in our relationship was I told her before we got married that "I like to fish.... a lot!" After a few months of marriage, she had a new understanding of "a lot". For nearly 35 years we have laughed uncontrollably together, we have also cried uncontrollably together. We make a great team and I love her dearly. I just want to say thank you to my wife Bonnie.
I have been making and modifying my own fishing lures since my childhood, and perhaps this will give some insight to my passion.
In my younger years, I spent many days fishing with my grandfather on the lakes of Northern Indiana as well as the gravel pits in Central Indiana. Those days we fished mostly for panfish, catching Sunfish, Redears, Crappie, Yellow Perch, Pike, Pickerels and an occasional Largemouth Bass. The lakes of Kosciusko County were like my best dream come true. Fishing lakes like Tippecanoe, Wawasee, Yellow Creek Lake, Palestine Lake, Beaver Dam Lake, Dewart Lake, and Lake Webster were summers of fun. The Salamonie Reservoir, Morse Reservoir in the town of Cicero, IN, Mississinewa Reservoir, and Lake Monroe were also my stomping grounds.
Growing up I spent many hours gazing, admiring, and studying the artificial lures in both my grandfather's tacklebox as well as my father's. In Grandpa's brown metal box, the first shelf had a Red Headed Jitterbug, a Red Headed Hula Popper, a Heddon River Runt, South Bend's Bass-O-Reno, a Heddon Meadow Mouse, a Red Headed Bomber, and a Pikie Minnow in Pearch color. On the second shelf was a Phoebe, a Super-Duper, Johnson Silver Minnow, Eppinger's Red and White Dardevle and a Black and White Dardevle, a Hildebrant Spinner, various Mepp's spinners and one of Grandpa's favorites, the Evans Shyster in Yellow with Black Polka Dots. In the bottom of the box were various hooks in the little plastic boxes, sinkers, bobbers, fishing line and of course a stringer.
My father's box had a Rapala silver minnow, a Red Head Bomber, Hula Popper, Black Jitterbug, a Red-Eye Spoon, Black and White and Red and White Dardevle, the Heddon River Runt, a Heddon Pumpkinseed, a South Bend Bass-Oreno in Perch, and nightcrawler harnesses.
When we were going fishing, I could never sleep the night before ...I was just too excited. I would spend the night envisioning all the fish we would catch! I would prepare my rod and reel, go through my little tacklebox looking at the bobber assortment, sinkers, hooks, line and in those days, the old clip stringer.
My first "bass only" trip was with my grandfather when I was around 10 or 11 years old. Normally he would call or come by our home and say "hey boy, were going fishing tomorrow so bring your stuff", but this time he said, "you don't need to bring your stuff cause we're going to do doing something different tomorrow." On his fourth or fifth cast with the Hula Popper, a bass hit it on the surface...that was it, I was hooked on Bass Fishing.
I still remember buying my first lure when I was 11 years old...a frog colored Hula Popper that I bought for the outrageous price of $2.00 at a local hardware store. In those days I would mow lawns and do odd jobs to earn money for my fishing gear. I also began to make my own lures as well since $2.00 was a bunch of money for a 5th grader. I tried fly fishing for mostly bluegill and bass, tying my own flies that looked pretty ridiculous to me. For some reason I seemed to always have a knack for carving wood and that led me to making my own lures. One of the first lures I made was carved out of an old-style wooden clothes pin (my grandmother could not figure out what was happening to all the clothes pins) and a piece of a Ball Jar lid. I tried to make a Bomber, I got the shape right and by a miracle cut the jar lid in the correct shape to make the blade part of the bait...and it actually swam straight. I then painted the thing with some of my older brother's Testor's model paints. The best part was I actually caught a tiny bass on the thing at a nearby gravel pit....
I spent most of my spare time gazing at Herter's Catalog, NetCraft Catalog, E. Hille Catalog, memorizing the different types of gear and bait colors. It was like a candy store for me.... a seemingly endless amount of lure shapes sizes and colors.
Sports Afield was my favorite magazine. I spent hours looking at not only the articles, but also the ads for lures. It was like another catalog. Then there were the ads for the fishing resorts in various parts of the country and Canada, an endless playground for a young boy's mind. Arbogast, Heddon, Southbend, Phillips, Smithwick, Bomber, and Eppinger advertisements all bring back fond memories of my childhood. Sports Afield got the most attention, but Field and Stream, Outdoor Life, BassMaster Magazine....all required reading in my childhood. It was the only reason I looked forward to going to the Barber Shop. Plus, the Barber had some mounted fish on the wall of the shop.
I always marched to the beat of a different drum during my teen years. My focus was fishing, sneaking out in the middle of the night to go to a local gravel pit and night fish for bass with my Jitterbug. I was not your normal teen. In high school I carved a series of fish in art class, bluegill, channel catfish, bass and a pike were my fascination at the time.
Soft plastics had begun to be more popular during the late 60's and early 70's as well and they always fascinated me. In the 60's my favorite TV shows of course were the old fishing shows of that day. I would look forward each week to watching Jerry McKinnis's “The Fishin’ Hole,” on our local stations. Jerry would fish the Fliptail Worm, and later the Fliptail Lizard with some crazy thing called a Texas Rig. I remember watching Virgil Ward and his sons on “Championship Fishing" tossing the Tarantula, the Spider Spin, the Scorpion, and the ever-famous Beetle Spin.
I hope this gives you some insight into my passion for fishing. Thank you for taking the time to read it. Tight Lines!
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