No Telling What’s In An Old Tackle Box

Daryl Gay's Back Page, March 2005

Daryl Gay | March 1, 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.

“What kind?”

“Bluegill.” He wrote it down.

“Whatcha catch  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…

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