Rigging Up For Jigging

Selection of the cane pole is the main element in the manufacture of a proper jigging pole. It must be a minimum of sixteen feet long, with plenty of whip or bend, with a slight downward curve at the tip.

Wrapping the pole with sixty pound, test, braided fishing line is next. The wrap should begin about three feet from the butt end of the pole and include a wrap every six inches. To hold the wrap in place, every eighteen to twenty-four inches tie a half-hitch knot in the line around the pole and continue the wrapping. The last two feet of the pole, the wraps should be not more than two inches apart, with a secure knot tied on the tip, but leave the tag end of the line hanging down below the tip.

Eight inches below the tip attach the first hook. The hooks can be one of several sizes, but, to prevent straightening, must be steel, long shank type. When the first hook is attached, clip the line below the hook, then slip another hook of the same size over the point of the first hook, slide it to the hook’s curve and then crimp it on.

Just before fishing, attach two pork rinds, spotted green works best. Attach the first rind to both hooks then attach the second rind to the bottom hook only.

For best results, press the rod butt along the bottom of your forearm, grasp the pole securely and gently tap, tap tap, the rod tip on the surface and you’ll notice that the tip makes dimpled, circles in the water. That’s the right way. The bait jumps and slides below the surface and the fish will explode into the bait. There is no hook setting, just holding on to the pole. Then hand over hand on the pole until the fish can be reached then net or jerk it into the boat.

This is a two, person job, one jigging the other driving and a skiff is the ideal boat. Propulsion of the skiff can be provided by paddle or electric motor. Just be sure the propeller doesn’t bang into too many limbs or stumps.

When Buck and I jigged it was usually around the edges of a pond or lake in water from one foot to four. Don’t hesitate to fish over an area two or three times, because Buck believed that a bass would finally hit the bait out of frustration! Once, on a bet, he and I fished around the stumps on Lake Sam Rayburn’s south side in up to twenty feet of water and hammered the bass. He won the bet!

Now, the hardest part of all may be finding the right Calcutta, cane pole, or even finding one!

Even Alligators

Slowly tapping the sixteen foot, Calcutta, cane pole tip on the surface, the bait, two pork rinds, attached to two hooks, seemed to slide and jump, just under water, beside the dead tree. An explosion on the surface, bigger than a “blow up”, and the big strike bent the long pole over half way down into the water. The pole sizzled through the water as the fish ran in a wide circle around the aluminum skiff.

Unceremoniously, hand over hand, I brought the big, bass to the surface, jerked it into the skiff, smiled and held it up for Buck to see. He said, returning my smile, “Boy, you handled the jigger pole just right!” The bass was over six pounds and a personal best for my attempts at jigging.

An eight, pound, bass was the best that I ever witnessed him catching. Buck said that his most exciting jigging event was in South Carolina when he caught an alligator, and in his words, “I quickly let go of the pole and let the ‘gator worry about it.”

He had learned this unique, fishing technique, jigging, and the manufacture of the equipment from, of all things, an old Indian (native American type). This same old Indian made a poultice to cure Buck’s numerous sore throats, Buck drank the potion and passed out from the taste and the “fire” in the mix, but after he awoke, he never had a sore throat again. It probably just ate out his tonsils!

Before WW II, Buck, my former father-in-law, lived in South Carolina, across the Cooper River from Charleston. Buck was a wild thing then, a Klansman, a former professional boxer, a tailor and a hunting and fishing guide. He once guided Nash Buckingham, maybe the best bob white, quail shot ever, on a duck and goose hunt on Currituck Sound, in North Carolina.

Buck perfected his jigging techniques in the numerous ponds and irrigation ditches in the South Carolina lowlands. He was an expert with a cane pole, jigging for fish, primarily for bass, but anything in fresh water, even alligators, will hit a jigged lure. The secret that he passed on to me, was in the manufacture and preparation of the cane pole, hooks and pork rind baits.

“Rigging Up For Jigging” will be posted on June 30.

More Outdoors Pictures, June 26, 2009

My friends keep sending me some real neat outdoor pictures so I’ll just keep posting them.

Randy Pfaff sent me this very, very unusual picture of a mountain lion and big horn sheep. The lion had caught up with the sheep and taken a plug out of the sheep’s backside. There was another picture of the lion’s mouth with the sheep meat and fur still intact, but it was past good taste to show it. The sheep was trying its best to escape but both crossed the road when a vehicle smacked both, ending the chase!

Randy also sent me this picture of him holding up two nice bass.


My neighbor, James Crumley, just returned from a fishing trip to Rockport, Texas and sent me this picture of one of his son’s holding up a twenty pound, jackfish. In my opinion, jacks, pound for pound, are the toughest fighters in the Gulf of Mexico!

Clayton Gist trapped another big, bobcat. For the year, this runs his total to three mature ones and two smaller ones. He’s the bobcat champion of Mills County, Texas!

Morning Walk, June 23, 2009

The past two and a half weeks, each morning I have been packing my camera and no worthy “shots” appeared; no snakes, deer, rabbits, or even livestock. Each evening, out in our field, but too far for a picture, we can barely make out some newly born deer struggling through the Sudan grass. These are the fawns from the first estrus cycle. Obviously the does are “fawning” right now.

Tuesday morning I did get two good “shots”.

This deer is ready to drop her fawn. She must be from the second cycle?

Just like heifer number 80 is ready to drop her calf.

Some times the natural order takes precedence over getting some good “shots”!

‘Gator Bait

World War II ended in August 1945 and by the summer of 1946, military surplus stores were booming. Eliminating the middleman, one of my industrious Uncles, Austin Bryan, a Navy Sea Bee, had appropriated a two man, inflatable life raft that had been “lost” off of a Catalina flying boat. It had never been used so Uncle Austin made a plywood box for it and shipped it back to the ‘States, to his Brother, my Dad. We now had a “fishing boat” and me, being young, thought pumping it up was neat.

Our first trip was with our neighbor, Dave Miller, a WW II veteran and former student at Texas A & M College (now University) and his son Bill, to an oxbow lake off of the Brazos River, south of Richmond, Texas. This was a very “private” lake on a large State Prison Farm. This trip being arranged by another Uncle, A.C. turner, who, at the time, was the Rehabilitation Director for the prison sysytem.

We drove to the lake, inflated the boat and then “took turns” fishing out of the life raft. Bill and I went first and learned quickly the art of paddling a life raft. Our first attempt resulted in an inglorious circle! Our fishing results were better, several small bass, that were put on our communal stringer and then we headed to the shore and turned the raft over to our Dads.

Left on the bank while our Dads were working on the bass, Bill and I caught some grasshoppers and went to bait fishing. Not much wind, a real nice afternoon and we noticed a snag drifting near our spot. It drifted up and stopped and quit drifting. Being nine and eleven years old we thought nothing of it and kept fishing.

Our Dads were headed back our way with a couple of more fish on the communal stringer and Dave yelled to us, “What’s that in the water out from you?” Being young we answered, “Where?” My Dad said, “Boys, watch where I cast,” as he cast a wooden, Lucky 13 plug, toward us and across our “snag”.

He twitched his rod tip and reeled one turn at a time, “walking the dog” back over the “snag” and then the water exploded and a big, it seemed five or six feet long, alligator, our “snag”, cleared the water in a twisting, mouth open, teeth showing jump, made a great splash as it returned and then took off, at top speed, pulling the life raft behind it!

My Dad’s Calcutta rod was dangerously bent! He was yelling because the ‘gator was stripping line from his reel, and the reel’s only drag system was his thumb! Trying to stop the ‘gator’s run, his thumb was being blistered because he was using it to put pressure on the reel spool. The ‘gator jumped again, the plug pulled loose and came sailing back toward my Dad and, a ducking Dave and settled on the water behind them. “Whoopee” exclaimed Dave, followed by a “Damn” from my Dad, as both anglers paddled back toward us.

Laughingly, my Dad told us “ ‘Gators like to eat little boys if they can catch one and this one was sizing both of you all up for a dinner.” Silently we deflated the raft, packed it in its plywood box and did not enjoy his attempt at humor!

In a picture box display, in the main hall of my ranch house, are all of my Dad’s old fishing plugs, including the tooth scarred, wooden, Lucky 13 that he “walked” over the ‘gator.

Don’t Drink The Water

My Great Uncle, Lee Wallace, a lawyer, writer and judge, was quite a “sport” and well known throughout our State. He was my Mother’s favorite Uncle and some of his exploits are near legendary.

Around the turn of the 20th century, Lee, County Attorney for Kerr County, Texas and another lawyer, decided they would go and visit one of Lee’s friends in Pecos, Texas, probably a hundred and fifty to two hundred mile trip. Remember, no interstates and very few cars then and their chosen mode of transportation was a team of horses, pulling their wagon.

Here Lee is shown with his “Sunday” rig.

A car trip from Kerrville to Langtry, even with our modern highways, is not easy today and in the early 1900’s, had to be a nightmare. To bolster their courage, along with their pistols, they took two cases of whiskey, one for their trip and one for Lee’s friend. Wouldn’t you know it, their wagon broke an axle near Rocksprings and their three to four day trip turned into a week.

Finally arriving in Langtry, with the whiskey gone, and no “gift” for Lee’s friend, his friend’s court was in session. The bar was closed, and they witnessed the strange brand of justice practiced by, Lee’s friend, Judge Roy Bean!

The complaint was by an Anglo rancher that one of his horses was stolen. Judge Bean brought out a Mexican man that was already in jail and said he must have done it. The jury found Mexican guilty and Judge Bean sent him back to jail for a longer term or a hanging (Lee never said). With the swift sentence, the bar quickly opened and warm greetings were exchanged.

After several days, with Lee’s visit and business completed, he and his fellow traveler loaded up for home. To bolster their courage for the grueling trip, Judge Bean presented them with two more cases of whiskey. Four days later, minus the whiskey, they arrived safely in Kerrville.

Back then, you had to be careful of the water you drank!

A Close Call

As spring turned into summer I was really getting the feel of the little Boston Whaler and its small size and shallow draft had helped me to find a short cut from Jones Lake to all of the fine fishing in upper, West Galveston Bay – Greens Cut, Confederate Reef, the wrecked shrimp boat, and North and South Deer Island. The short cut changed a twenty-five minute trip down to ten and remained my favorite route for over ten years.

Here I am guiding the Whaler over safer waters!

Randy, my son, and I were heading out, under the railroad bridge, to chase the birds around Greens Cut and he asked me, “Dad, let me drive the boat.” “Sure,” I replied, adding, “We’ll take my shortcut and I’ll guide you to it.”

We were skimming along close to thirty-five miles per hour and I told Randy, “See the stake up ahead on the right? Steer close to it and we will be OK.” This stake was the right side of a four, foot cut, in a live oyster reef. We found out the width of the cut on this trip.

For some reason Randy did not steer as close to the stake as he should have and CRUNCH! We hit the left edge of the reef and missed the cut. As the boat unexpectedly stopped, I flew over the bow, tucked quickly and covered my head with my arms, did a half flip, and crashed down, on my back, into the twelve inches of water covering the reef.

Randy was half in and half out of the Whaler. When we hit the reef, he had the presence of mind to pull back on the throttle, idling the engine, and since it had no shear pin, it was OK. Randy got all the way out of the boat saying “Gee Dad, I’m Sorry. We missed the cut!” My shirt was shredded and my back was cut up, but I stood slowly, thankfully I wasn’t hurt bad. I told Randy, “Don’t worry, I’m OK. Let’s lift up the front of the boat and make sure it’s not damaged.”

The boat was fine, Whaler can really make ‘em! We still had our shrimp, there’s not much wind and the tide was coming in, so I said, “If you’ll wash off my back with salt water and clean out the cuts we’ll go ahead and fish.” Later that morning, while we were catching speckled trout, Randy said, “Dad you’re a tough old guy! I thought you were going to end our trip after my wreck.” I thought to myself, “Old, I’m not even 60.”

Three Big Storms

We were in Dallas last Wednesday through Friday, to participate in the Texas Senior Softball Championships, but Mother Nature intervened in a big way. Early Thursday morning I awoke to an awesome electrical show, seventy to eighty mile per hour winds and a driving rainstorm. Another washed out tournament was my first thought, but by noon the sun was shining and a good, steady wind was blowing from the south, just the ingredients to dry out the fields. We played a shortened tournament on Friday and my team, The Texans, won our age group.

Back home in Goldthwaite, Thursday night’s storm was almost equal to that morning’s storm in Dallas. The same speed winds, seventy to eighty, sustained for over an hour, five inches of rain and golf ball size, hail. Folks around here said if the wind hadn’t been blowing so hard, our rain gauges would have shown eight or nine inches.

After the fact I heard about the Goldthwaite storm and after asking if everyone, including our pets, were safe, my second thought was about my garden, just swinging into production.

Friday afternoon as I was leaving Dallas, I noticed a huge, thunderhead to the northwest. Switching on the radio, I followed the track of this storm all the way from Mineral Wells to Hamilton, thirty miles east of Goldthwaite. This was the worst of the three spawning four tornadoes on the ground, grapefruit size hail, loads of rain and high, straight line, winds. I was real lucky since I was running ahead of the storm and it turned east, away from Goldthwaite.

Arriving home late Friday afternoon, during a good, heavy rain, the garden was too sloppy to get into and inspect, so Monday morning I took these pictures of the small amount of damage.

Worst hit were my wild garlic and dill. These plants are on the northeast side and bore the brunt of the wind and I lost two, dill and one, garlic plant.

The dill and basil around the jalapeno plants were pushed around, but will survive.

The black eye peas, since they were on a long trellis, were almost flattened, but are still producing.

Most protected were the Kentucky wonder beans and straight neck squash.


Here you can see the squash blossoms and one squash ready to pick.

Looking back over the past spring, the garden has survived one freeze, a heavy wind storm and two hail storms. This should make the surviving plants strong and help to produce a great harvest!

Morning Walk, July 14, 2009

Not having walked for the past eight days, yesterday morning I started to get back into the groove and clipped off a quick two miler.

In the half-light just before the sun peeks over the horizon, right out of my side door this doe was standing just outside of the fence around my  yard.

I got one bad shot of her standing and another of her tail, waving goodbye to me!

Pressing on, as I rounded a curve in the road, there was a horse! He had jumped over a bad section of fence. Not even thinking about a picture, I raised my arms, let out a rebel yell and chased it back over the fence and into its pasture. Its buddies were still grazing and had not made an effort to join him. Straightening up the fence the best that I could without tools, I continued my walk.

This old, still pumping, windmill was probably built around 1920, the same as the one outside of our old house. Almost ninety! I wonder how much stock it has watered over the years?

Texans Win State Again

In Texas, from the youngest little leaguer to the top rated, high school, football team, winning State means everything! It means bragging rights, trophies, rings and that you are the best of the best, in the best State!

On June 12, despite soggy conditions left over from last Wednesday nights storms that smashed into Dallas, the Texans took two of three games from the Texas Greyhounds, won the State, Senior Softball Championship again and qualified for the 2009, tournament Of Champions. This past January the Texans won their age bracket in this event.

Sluggo accepts the State Championship trophy.

The storm had dropped over eight inches of rain on Dallas in six hours, canceling the first day of the tournament and it was then shortened to the best of three games. In Irving this past March, the Greyhounds had stomped us 18-3 and were primed to repeat. Both teams are rated as “Major” teams with above average ability for seventy to seventy-four age players.

Because of a serious illness in his family, our manager was called away and Sluggo, just back from an injury, managed the team and the team responded. We came out smokin’ and won the first game 14-6. Then the heat, ninety-eight degrees and humidity, one hundred percent, started taking its toll on both teams. The Greyhounds won the second game 7-6 scoring the winning run in the bottom of the seventh on a sac fly.

We came out flat in the third game and trailed 6-1, before shutting down the Greyhounds the rest of the way and rallying in the sixth and seventh for the win.

The Texans’ record is now thirteen wins and two losses. Their next tournament is July 2nd and 3rd in Liberty, Kansas and maybe we’ll keep up our winning ways?