The Way It WasThe Way It Was Journalist Bob Hood takes a nostalgic look back to the childhood memories of a bass angler.
By Bob Hood
I was about four years old when I first started fishing and it seemed to be the simplest task I had tackled in all those years. A cane pole, a can of earthworms and a strong hand from my father were all I needed.
My, how times have changed. My grandfather's stock tank near Comanche had lots of feisty bluegills. There also were some pretty fine channel cats that always seemed to hug the bottom near the green moss where the dragonflies dabbed at the surface if for no other reason than to teach the little largemouth bass how to leap out of the water.
I really didn't care for largemouth bass then because they always seemed to spoil my fishing. I was after bluegills, but every now and then, a big bass would spoil everything by taking all but my pole away from me after a brief battle.
Those were the greatest days of my life. Everything seemed to bite good back then, even the chiggers and mosquitoes. Many great lessons in life were learned with that cane pole in hand.
In fact, I used to think that chiggers, broken lines, flat tires and tents that blew down in the night were all just a part of an overall scheme of things in the fishing game. That is, until I learned one day that one doesn't really have to be uncomfortable to have a good time outdoors.
That Comanche County stock tank and the pasture around it were my teaching ground. The tank taught me how to catch fish, and the pasture taught me about jackrabbits who sat with their long ears twitching in the wind, and about how to slap down grasshoppers for fish bait with my cap.
My two brothers liked to fish, too, and so did a few of our friends. But I remember one school buddy who almost quit fishing while in junior high when he fell in love with Betty Ann, an attractive little blond who played the violin in the school orchestra.
I understood my friend's distraction from fishing, though, because at that time, I figured girls were an accepted cause for idiocy. A year later, I learned Betty Ann was a pretty good hand at digging up earthworms, which was admirable, but it was also said she could catch her share of fish, something I really didn't care to hear about.
It was a period in life where changes were beginning to take place, especially among my fishing buddies. Soon, the old gang just wasn't what it used to be. It slowly dwindled in numbers, as we grew older. It wasn't so much that everyone quit fishing, they just got new fishing partners.
It was the earlier years, however, that I remember most, and I thought about those times recently after tightening down the bolts on my sonar depth recorder and going through my tackle box, suddenly realizing that it didn't hold a single split shot, perch hook or cork bobber.
The early years were simple years. You didn't have to try to figure out if the fish were biting. If they didn't take a juicy earthworm, they weren't biting at all. The size of fish didn't seem to matter much, either. A fish of any size was big enough to brag about, especially if no one was looking.
I didn't know what a De-Liar fish scale was until I turned my attention to largemouth bass and girls. I got one - a pair of De-Liars that is, and quickly learned not to weigh a fish with it while a fishing buddy was looking on. Every fish weighs more after you have turned him loose. No exceptions.
A story about Lester Flatt, the well-known bluegrass musician, has been told before, but it still is one well worth remembering, especially if you have a fishing buddy who comes home often with a big fish story.
Flatt told the story about one of his fishing buddies who carried a pair of fish-weighing scales in his tackle box to "officialize"' his catches of big bass. And the man was so particular that he would never let anyone else use those scales.
As Flatt told it, the neighbors who lived across the street from the fisherman had brought home a brand new baby two days earlier. Naturally, they were curious how much the baby weighed, but they didn't have any scales.
They asked the fisherman's wife if she had any scales they could borrow to weigh their new child. The fisherman's wife didn't have any bathroom scales, but she did remember her husband's fish-weighing scales, and she gave it to the new parents. "They were astonished," Flat said. "That new baby weighed 38 pounds!"
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