No Tellin’ What’s In An Old Tackle Box
On The Back Page With Daryl Gay - March 2005
It’s that time again: cleaning out, changing and rearranging the innards of my 300-lb. tackle box. Should be all finished about this time next year.
Oh, there’ll be breaks here and there to actually take the thing fishing, but the job never completely gets done.
It’s all these interruptions, you see, reminiscing over places and events from the past fishing trips:
For instance, here’s an ancient Hawaiian Wiggler, which you bass purists may well be acquainted with. With a chartreuse skirt, spinning blade and hook large enough for a shark, it has provided many a fish. But the best thing it ever provided was an answer to a question!
Years ago on Lake Blackshear, crotchety old gent and a partner were perched on a huge bed of bull-backed, spotted bream, hauling in specimens over a pound apiece occasionally and loving every second of it. And then along comes a government creel checker interrupting the action.
“What you got?”
“Fish or two.” He wrote it down.
“Bluegill.” He wrote it down.
“Whatcha catch ‘em on?”
“Hawaiian Wiggler.” Yep.
And I’ve often longed to see the look on his supervisor’s face when he turned that report in!
Oh, and there lies a can opener. Not just any can opener, mind you, the white bass can opener.
Yeah, here we were just minding our own business, casting to the rip-rap along a certain bridge when who should show up but about a million white bass, slashing and crashing a school of shad over three acres approximately two casts from the boat.
My partner and driver, in a frenzied panic, dropped his worm rod and fired up the trolling motor, careening as quickly as possible toward said action.
Meanwhile, back in the boat bottom, I slyly unsnapped the Rooster Tail on his number two rod and replaced it with that seven-inch-long, half-pound can opener.
It was a classic moment upon reaching casting range when he grabbed that rig and sailed the “lure” over his panicked head while gazing upward and hollering, “What the heck!”
Oh, and what’s this in the box? Two lengths of some type of metal? Voila! A fish chain!
Well, formerly a fish chain. Transformed, at one time, into a real lifesaver. Or at the very least a back-and-arms saver.
But I had warned the old man about them peppers and onions. For breakfast, you see, scattered over his eggs like he was south of the border or something.
“Old Man, that omelet’s gonna blow you up like a helium balloon about mid-morning, and I don’t wanna hear it if we’re catching fish.”
“Ahhh, you just drive the boat to the fish and let me take care of the rest,” he retorted with a blaring belch as we prepared to head up the Ocmulgee in the first gray of day. “If’n I have to have a bank break, you’ll be the first to know.”
Two hours after daylight, and the bass have been very cooperative as we ran and fished quite a few miles upriver, hitting the blowdowns and creek mouths, and now we’ve found a big shellcracker bed a half-mile up a slough. I’m thinking we’re about halfway to heaven when the first sign of trouble — a mushrooming atomic cloud — comes wafting up from the back of the boat.
This ain’t no belch.
“Time for what? You got plenty of bait back there.”
“That ain’t all I’ve got back here, either. You got to put me on the bank.”
“Old man, if I go to picking up anchors and moving this boat up and down in this slough, we’re gonna spook half the shellcrackers in Creation.”
“And if you don’t, I’m a’gonna pollute this whole slough, not to mention about two miles downriver. Take your choice.”
So here I am minutes later in the banked boat, clothespin snapped over my nose, when suddenly I see him dashing back through the brush and yelling, “Crank it up, crank it up!” at the top of his lungs.
Not waiting to ask why, I snatch the outboard’s rope and thankfully it fires right up, drowning out most of his screeching. He, meanwhile, plows right on into the back seat, bringing along some very unwelcome guests: yellow jackets.
Nobody had to tell me we were trespassing, so as he swatted and swore, I gave ’er all the throttle I could squeeze and lit out full-tilt for the river, all the while chastising him for his squatting-site selection.
He wasn’t really being hit too hard by the souped-up wasps, and I’m thinking that’s because they’re suffering from the initial earth-scorching gases. But we still ain’t slowing down, and bounce off one stump and log after another. The old jonboat is all the way to the mouth of the river and sliding downstream when it happens: a rock pile jumps right out in front of us.
Well, that pretty much did it for the motor’s shear pin, which I must say had held up bravely while beating off all that timber. And we must have outrun the jackets, because they were no longer swarming.
At least for the moment.
A frantic rummage through the big tackle box failed to produce a spare shear pin, but I did come up with a length of copper wire, a fish chain made of some harder metal, a pair of cutting pliers and some electrical tape.
Since time was of the essence, I made do with what I had and in a large hurry.
Three equal-length snips of chain wrapped with wire insulation and tape filled the bill just right!
Well, almost just right.
After reinserting this conglomeration into the foot of the motor, I found that it would hold up at about 400 rpm. Yeah, I wanted 4,000, but 400 was at least propulsion of some sort — and it beat paddling like a drum!
It also got us back to the landing unstung.
And now that I think about it, there’s really no use in cleaning out this tackle box; you never know when you’ll throw something away that could come in mighty handy in a pinch. Instead, before we hit the river, I think I’ll make sure the Old Man is cleaned out…