On The Shoulders Of Giants With Andrew Curtis.

Andrew Curtis | October 11, 2023

The Jitterbug is a classic fishing lure still found in some tackleboxes today.

I’m not sure if there is a more sentimental bass lure to me than the good ol’ topwater Arbogast Jitterbug. Ever since I first fished with one long ago, I have had a black Jitterbug in my tacklebox. It was easy for me as a young kid to cast because of its weight, and the straight, continuous retrieval of the buoyant plug was ideal for a child to work it correctly. Hearing the soft popping sounds it made, like the calm before the storm, amped up my nerves anticipating the gigantic explosions from overzealous largemouth. I recall daydreaming in school of what I would catch on that lure, even drawing sketches of it in class. It was an addiction at an early age.

My nephew, who is 18 years old, is a bass fisherman through and through, but I can’t help but laugh at the differences in our styles. He is part of a new breed, one that prefers extremely life-like lures, most of which are larger than anything I would think of tying on in freshwater. I’m definitely a finesse guy, preferring numbers to size. (You can tell right away that I’m not a tournament fisherman). I probably would not have too many followers showing off my small fish on social media, but every now and then, I land a good ‘un. And when I do, it’s often on my proven black Jitterbug, which looks nothing like anything lifelike, even though it will fool a bass time and time again. However, I’m pretty sure my nephew has never had one in his inventory.

I remember the first time I used the Jitterbug when I was a young kid. My friend Diz gave me one to fish with in a pond near our houses. I eyed the odd-looking lure suspiciously. Was this a trick? About the fourth or fifth cast way out in the middle of the pond, I began my slow retrieve and listened to the soft popping sounds. In an instant, my lure was annihilated by a 2-lb. bass. I excitedly set the hook and fought the feisty fish to the bank as it leaped repeatedly out of the water. That did it for me! I was a believer. I kept a Jitterbug in my tacklebox from then on.

Those were the good old days for me. My biggest worry was when I would get out of school to be able to go fishing with my friends. Fishing was our passion. Our bragging rights were determined the following day by how shredded the skin on our thumbs were, where we had lipped the bass. We were also not above sneaking a critical peek at each other’s lures to gauge the success by the bite gouges and scratches in the lures. A true fisherman knows what I’m talking about.

I can’t remember when our last fishing outing was before my friends and I graduated high school and set out to college, and I had no idea how important those youthful fishing trips would be for my adult life. Perhaps I thought I would always have time to sling a Jitterbug out into a farm pond.  

When I look at the black Jitterbug in my tacklebox now, I feel the connection to my youth so strongly. I can remember plenty of topwater bass caught with my best friends. Those fishing buddies I grew up with have families of their own now, and we rarely see each other. But when we do, it’s no coincidence that we plan fishing trips. That’s one of the bonds that keeps us strong.

As I rub my fingertip along the scars and scratches in my favorite topwater lure, a childhood competition revives inside me, and I realize that I can’t wait to show off those signs of success next month to the friend who gave me my first Jitterbug. Maybe, just maybe, my thumb will be a little more raw than his by the end of our reunion on the water!


On The Shoulders Of Giants With Andrew Curtis

Andrew graduated from UGA in 2006 with his undergraduate degree in Animal Health and from UGA’s veterinary school in 2010. His passion for fishing and the outdoors began when he was a young boy spending time with his grandfather at Lake Oconee. Now he enjoys passing on what he has learned to his two young boys at their home on the Alapaha River. Turkey hunting and south Georgia river fishing are among his favorite pastimes, but his main interests involve mentoring kids in the outdoors while spreading the Word of Jesus. Andrew has discovered the joy and power in writing and hopes to benefit others through his words.

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