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Backlashes, Broken Rods And The Best Top Water Bass Fisherman I Ever Knew

1/1/2015 11:51:47 AM

Folks it has been a while since I last posted a new article and for that I am sorry. There was some sickness in the family and it just seemed to take all the will to write from me. But we are just about to begin a new year and I thought that I would start it off with a story about the best topwater bass angler that I ever knew. This tale is set in rural Louisiana during the fifties when I was just a lad of eight. Ned was old even then but he walked with and upright posture even though he had been severely wounded during the war and his steps, though labored, were with purpose. Back then I was not into history and I guessed that it was the civil war. It would be many years later when I discovered that it had been at Pear Harbor.

The old man lived in a one room shanty on the edge of the San Patracio Creek swamp. This was an area that was about twenty-five miles long and fifteen miles wide. There were no roads, save a few grown over logging ones and an old tram that had once carried a narrow gage railroad during the early 1900 hundreds. The woods were so foreboding that they intimidated even the most seasoned hunter. The woods were rumored to hold puma, wild hog and Big Foot, so the area was off limits to all but the firm of heart. Many were the tales the old people would share as we set around campfires in the safety of our farm house about people's dogs and livestock disappearing during the dark Louisiana nights. We kids would sit in silence and awe as the Uncles and older Cousins related true facts of such acts by something or someone that was never identified. The recurring them was that no remains of any of the animals up to and including hogs and young calves of 500 or more pounds.

It was with great anticipation that I finally met this legendary gentleman one day when he came to visit our house and trade some fresh killed hog meat for some corn and potatoes that my Father grew on our truck farm. I was in the process of trying to repair an old reel that I had found in a junk pile at the edge of the woods. In those days there was no garbage pickup. Everyone just took the garbage to the junk pile and left it. Anything that would burn was torched and all the other things were placed in a pile that was free pickings for anyone that could use the items. That was how I came to have the reel attached to a five side four feet long steel rod.

Ned and my Dad had just finished a cup of that dark Louisiana coffee laced with bitter chickory and sweetened with a dollop of wild honey when he saw me fiddling with the reel. He asked if he could help and of course that made my day. I remember telling him that the reel would not wind the line on in a level way but bunched it up on one corner. Ned told me to bring him a file, a nail and a hammer. The old man placed the nail against an ax laying beside the wood pile and then smacked it several times with the hammer. In a matter of minutes the judicious use of the file resulted in a crudely build pawl which he inserted into the reel. I can still recall my utter amazement that the reel now wound the line on the spool in an even manner. The old man asked if I fished and when I told him that I did but I had never caught anything he volunteered to take me fishing on that foreboding Patricio Creek next morning.

I doubt that I slept a wink that night but next morning found me walking the two mile trail to Old Ned's house. Loaded with a jelly bisquit and two stuffed with a piece of Ned's pork between the slices, one for him and one for me, I soon arrived at Ned's house. The old man met me and offered up a mason jar filled with dark, aromatic coffee. Even though I did not drink coffee at home I was not about to offend the old gent, so I drank it down in huge gulps and pretended to like it. The old man disappeared around his house and soon returned with a cane pole rigged with eyes made from bailing wire and a reel that was nothing more than six nails driven into a round piece of wood. The crude reel turned on the cane pole so that the line would peel off as a modern spinning reel functions today.

Ned took me down a winding trail through thick vines and blackberry bushes that seemed to reach into the heavens. Soon the hills gave way to open flatlands filled with giant water oaks and tupelo gum trees. Thee trail stopped at a bluff overlooking a dark sinster looking pool of stagnant water. Several dozen lillypads and an ancient log that had once been a regal cypress, but now was forever sunk into the muddy creek bed were the only viable structure. Ned asked me which end of the pool I wanted to start at and I chose the one with the lilly pads. I broke out one of the two lures I owned an decided to cast the Hawaian Wiggler into the pads. Ned stopped me and asked why I would cast that lure. W I told him that the only other lure I owned was a hand carved Lucky 13 with nail polished red head;a frog skin body ughed.


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