Ode to Cabela's
Ode to Cabela's
By Helen (California)

Cabela's order arrived last night
A new pole, new reel and lots of lures
I'm dreaming of lines pulled tight
That best of all bummer-time cures

As I spread out jigs n salty craws
And shads that dive and some that float
Hubby drew on a scene from "Jaws"
"Honey, yer gonna need a bigger boat.

Watching the Bobber
Watching the Bobber
HideHunter (Iowa)

One of my first memories is that of being tied to a tree. Never one to sit still, my early contribution to the weekly family fishing trip was to stay on the move, insuring that Mom never got to fish. The solution was to sit me down, tie a rope around my waist and hand me a fishing pole. With it came, possibly, the best advice I ever received from anyone in my life.

I took to it quickly but I also remember Mom saying, "Watch that kid. He never leaves that bobber still and he gets more bites than anyone"..and my philosophy on fishing hasn't changed much in forty years.

For several years I was relegated to using a cane pole. You know with the black nylon line and round cork bobber. The line was the same length as the pole and my frantic hooksets usually resulted in a hapless bluegill flying by my ear and crashing into the tree behind me.

Finally, on my fifth birthday, Grandma and Grandpa presented me with a new glass fishing rod. I was so excited I didn't even realize it didn't have a reel. The last present I opened was a new Bronson Dart spincast reel.

In one short day I had mastered the combo I became a certified, and confirmed, 'lure flinger'. By the end of that year, I wouldn't have been caught dead soaking bait under a bobber. That was the sure sign of a novice...and I was, after all, a seasoned veteran.

It took thirty years for my to "rediscover" floats and they are, now, a very big part of my fishing arsenal. I have dozens and they are made of wood and foam and high-tech pastics and porcupine quills. I have floats for current and floats for still water and shotted floats and floats an anemic minnow could pull under and floats that will hold up a large green sunfish; Floats that slip and floats that will take on water and even floats with tiny electric lights. And with all the technology, experience and expertise I have garnered over the years, that one piece of advice, given to me by my dad, some forty five years ago, still serves me in good stead today. "When the bobber goes under - Pull."

Memories of Fishing with Dad
Memories of Fishing with Dad
By TeeDub (Alberta, Canada)

I don't have any one incident that stands out in my mind in regards to early fishing experiences, maybe because my early experiences were so much farther in the past than for you young fellers. I do however, have a conglomerate of memories. Things like my little aluminum extension fishing rod, with the matching aluminum level wind reel with the cute little red plastic handles. Or digging worms from the garden with Dad and selecting only those biggest, fattest ones and putting them into a Wakefield Pipe Tobacco can. Or standing on the banks of the creek that ran back of our house, fishing for rainbows. Dad and I and our mongrel Teddy, Dad with his brier pipe firmly clenched between his teeth and his perpetual grin. Or out at Six Mile Lake in a rented rowboat, Dad with that same pipe, rowing in a steady rythym while I'm trolling a willow leaf spinner out behind. The look of pleasure, when I'd catch a nice trout. Or of many years later, when my Mom and Dad came to visit while I was living in Northern Ontario and had the start of my own family. I took Dad on his first and only Walleye fishing trip. He outfished me about three to one that day and still had the brier pipe in his teeth and that same old grin that I remember so well. Damn, but I miss my Dad!

Fishin' with Pawpaw
Fishin' with Pawpaw
By Bert (Texas)

I don't remember my first trip fishing, I don't think, but the first one I remember was when me and my Papaw went fishing in his boat. I believe we went to Dam B, one of the lakes on the Neches River. He bought me and my sister both a rod and reel. Mine was a Zebco 202 and a 4ft rod. I still have them both. I also have my sister's rod and reel too.

I just remember parts of the trip. I think I was four. Papaw died when I was 5. The boat was blue, with a cooler in the middle that I sat on. He taught me that day how to make a fish pee on my sister and he made us wash our hands with toothpaste to get the fish smell off. That was a tip that has come handy later in life too.

My dad would take us to Caddo Lake when I was little but I don't remember if it was before then or not. My dad is probably responsible for much of my habits, both hunting and fishing,. He always made a point to take me somewhere, even though he wasn't a big hunter or fisherman himself.

My grandad, Papaw died while he was deer hunting. My great uncle had shot a deer and Papaw went to get the truck, on the way I guess he had a heart attack. He had had several. Anyway apparently, he knew it was coming on and sat down by a tree. That is where my uncle found him. I regret not getting to do a lot of things with him, but I guess I wasn't supposed to, at least not physically. Anyway, sorry to get off the subject but that is about all I remember about my first trip.

Camping with Uncle John
Camping with Uncle John
By Herb (Oklahoma)

About a year after my Dad died, there was a knock on the front door. It's my cousin John and his wife. They load me up in their car and proceed to take me on a week long fishing/camping trip.

Of course they have arranged it with my mother, but heck I'm only seven years old; I wouldn't remember it if Mom had asked me if I wanted to go. It didn't matter; I wanted to go whether they asked me or not.

We went down to Lake Eufaula. At that time the lake had just been impounded, and we rented a boat and went out to an island to camp.

It was wonderfull!. We had a live box to put fish in that was made of 2x4s and hardware cloth, and was sunk into the lake where we beached the boat. Every day the top of the box would be covered with snakes and every day John would take a paddle and sweep the critters of the box so we could stash that day's catch.

We would wake up at dawn and have breakfast; not your wimpy adult breakfast but something GOOD; as I recall, SPAM figured prominently, as did some thick sliced bacon we bought on the way down. Did you ever watch someone slice bacon at an old time grocery?

After breakfast, we would go trolling for sand bass. I know now what fish they were, but at the time they were just fish. We also cast some, but it didn't take long for John to see that I couldn't cast. We trolled mostly and he taught me how to cast. We had old Shakespeare rods and spincast reels. They weighed a ton but I could sometimes cast them.

We'd come in and Dortha (John's wife) would oversee the clean up detail. Sweep out the tent, police up all the trash, and chop wood for the fire. There were clear rules about the tools, too. If a kid (me) even touched the ax, the tent would fall down, the trees would explode and we'd have to go home. I could use the hatchet, if there was an adult present, and they would sometimes let me use the cane knife all by myself.

After the camp was inspected and cleared, we'd cook lunch and plan the afternoon's activities. Both the grownups took far too many naps, but we also got to go swimming, and one memorable day John announced he was tired of all the snakes on the fish box and we should go shoot some. We took off, me with my trusty Daisy lever action one pump BB gun, and him with his 22. We didn't find any snakes, but we had fun shooting tin cans.

Then before dinner, we'd go back out fishing, but this time John would use his fly rod to catch bass and sunfish, and we'd just watch. Then, in for a quick dinner and to bed in the tent (Do you remember how a canvas tent smelled? To this day that canvas smell takes me back).

The week went by all too quickly, but it was just first of many. Long before, it turns out, when JOHN'S father died, my grandfather had taken John under his wing, and John was returning the favor. He returned it for over 30 years.

By the time we went the next time, John and Dortha had started building their lake cabin, and instead of campground policing I was taught things like stone masonry, roofing and plumbing. I was also taught how to fish and how important being outdoors really is for your peace of mind.

I grew up at their cabin, and they were there to guide me every step of the way. They were like an extra set of parents to me. Along the way we picked up their nephew, Sam, and we grew to be like brothers.

Sam has the cabin now, along with a beautiful wife and two wonderful kids. We get together a couple of times a year to do a little fishing, or maybe to try our luck with the bobwhites, or mainly to just sit and enjoy each other's company. Maybe I ought to suggest a camping trip.

Once in a Lifetime
My Dad wasn't much of an outdoorsman and frankly, most of my outdoor knowledge is self-taught but I do have a great memory of my first fishing "trip".
Once in a Lifetime
By Len (Virginia)

When I was about 8 years old, my Paternal Grampa came up from Roanoke to visit us one summer and had a huge smile on his face when he rolled out of the car. As an aside my Dad and his parents had many "issues" which kept my time with his parents to an absolute minimum. I knew my Grampa really loved me because he would get really excited everytime he was able to see me, and hell, I was "GLJ III", he was "GLJ Sr."

Anyway he rolls out of the car with this huge smile on his face and said he had a little something for me. I remember my sister getting all excited and saying "I know what it is! I know what it is!" and My Mom shooshing her.

Grampa opens the trunk and pulls out a long plastic tube with 2 screw on caps on either end. I had NO idea what it was but something was in it because I could hear it rattling around. I unscrewed one end and pulled out a shiney new Berkley "wonderglass" red fishing rod ! Having only a trusty Zebco 202 for fishing in the local creek, this was a big mans outfit to me. As I started to realize that there was no reel on it, he held up a shiny new Mitchell spinning reel, the kind with the heart on the little silver plaque... I about fell over right there in the parking lot ! then came the big plano tackle box, FULL of lures and tackle ! I was speechless !

He said "Me, you and yer Daddy are goin' fishin' tomorrow" Go get yer stuff ready. I played with all the tackle all night long, hardly got any sleep, if any, and was the first one ready to go in the morning.

We all piled in his Delta 88 which he had just bought and proceeded out to Lake Brittle in Warrenton VA. As we got on route 66, he told my Dad to "floor it"... We got that car well over 100mph !!! My Gramps was so excited and I couldn't stop laughing. It was great ! Doing things that would upset the wimmin folk.

We got to the lake, rented a jon boat with a trolling motor. They let me drive the boat. We sat and fished for the whole day. I remember getting a bite that scared the crap out of me, but I couldn't set the hook. We chased after a water moccasin in the boat and I ran it into a rock. They laughed at me for while after that...

It was the only time that the 3 of us spent any time together. I can't even rememeber if we caught any fish at all. I don't think it really matters though.


PS I still have that rod and reel. Bailey and I built a rod rack in the garage and that was the first rod to go in it. I've had my daughter fishing since she could walk, first with a Snoopy pole, then a micro-combo. I hope to give her many more memories to treasure much like I hold this one.

The Fishing Gift
The Fishing Gift
By Posthole (Oklahoma)

I imagine you've heard the saying 'Give a man a fish and he can feed his family for a day. Teach a man to fish and he can feed his family for a lifetime' or something quite close to that. I really think it should be amended for the 90's to something like 'Give a man a fish and he can feed his family for a day. Teach a man to fish and he'll be divorced and feeding two families in no time'. But anyway, I've been thinking a lot lately about my Uncle Huck, and all the things he did for me when I was a boy.

My Dad had a stroke when he was 23 years old that left him paralyzed, speechless, and pretty much a recluse. I was one at the time. It took him several years to recover to the point where he could read, write, talk, walk, everything, but I'm happy to say that considering his handicap, he's always been as great a Dad as anyone could ever wish for. I'm very proud of him.

My Dad and his three brothers all grew up in rural Arkansas on a large farm that is still today about 10 miles from the nearest paved road. I take my kids there every spring for a week long camping trip and we visit whenever we can. Like most families of that time, the brothers were all avid hunters and fishermen, although most of us would find their methods and zeal for taking game a bit unethical. In the context of the time though, I think they were just a normal bunch. With my Dad laid up and my Mom having to scrape by on a meager Veterans benfits check, my uncles, particularly my Uncle Huck (real name was Noyce, but all of us neices and nephews called him Huck) stepped in to fill the gap and to supply me with all the male father-figures one could ever want in their life. It made for a great childhood, and I'll be eternally grateful for the time they shared with me and the things they taught me.

I guess the first fishing trip of my life was when I was around three years old. I can remember it like it was yesterday. My Uncle Huck and I went perch jerking in the Fourche La Fave river in an old, wooden homemade boat that was built by my great-uncle Buster, a lifelong bachelor who we called The Old Man of the Mountains, which is a complete whole other story. I can remember the big, yellow bellies on the perch, the dark, splotchy colors of the goggle-eyes, and the beautiful colors of the sun perch we caught that day. I must have caught a million of 'em. That experience hooked me for life on fishing, and was the first of many fishing trips that my Uncles Huck and Buster took me on. It wasn't until I was about sixteen that I overheard my Uncle Huck telling the story to my other uncles after supper one night that I finally understood what had happened that day. I had thought I'd caught several fish, but actually I had just caught the same two or three fish over and over and over again. I guess fishing was slow that day and Uncle Huck, wanting and knowing what it would take to get keep me really interested in fishing, would pretend to drop the fish back in the water and say 'Let's wait for a big one'. Only he'd still be attached to my line and in a second or two the fun would begin all over again. It's a cherished memory, and to this day my uncles, all in their seventies now, all get a big laugh out of it at my expense.

When I take my boys to the Fourche and they are flailing away at the water, bitching about the fish not biting, but having the times of their lives, none of it bothers me, because most of the time I'm thinking back on those great days on the Amos hole, the Key hole, or the Long hole with my Uncle Huck.