In the early spring of 1963, O.H. Buck, (Buck), my father in law, and I took off around 3:00 PM for a night of fishing and camping out. Our destination was a 400, acre reservoir, just east of West Columbia, Texas, where Buck had a family membership. Back then it was called a reservoir because during the spring and summer, water was taken from it to irrigate the surrounding rice fields, but since then, the property has sold many times and is now called Tenneco Lake Number 1 and is probably used for plant cooling and employee recreation.

Not much setting up of camp was needed since we were sleeping in the pickup’s camper, only chairs and the propane stove were unpacked before we slid the 12 foot skiff off the camper and into the water. Electric motors were all that was allowed on the reservoir so off we went to catch the last hour and a half of fishing. Our rod and reels were still in the camper, but this trip wasn’t going to be the usual plug casting and reeling in, but jigging. This was brand new to me, but boy, did I get an introduction!

My first introduction was to the, so called, tackle, a 16 foot, Calcutta, cane pole, wrapped
with 60, pound test, braided fishing line. The wrap began about 3 feet from the butt end of the pole with a wrap every 6 inches and to hold the wrap in place, every 18 to 24 inches a half-hitch knot was tied in the line around the pole and a drop of glue had been put on the knot. For the last 2 feet of the pole, the wraps were no more than 2 inches apart, tied with a secure knot on the tip, but the line with the hooks attached hung down about 10 inches.

The first hook was attached about 8 inches below the tip. The hooks can be one of several sizes, but, to prevent straightening, must be steel, long shank type. Buck said that when he attached the first hook, he then clipped the line below the hook, then slipped another hook of the same size over the point of the first hook, slid it to the first hook’s curve, then crimped it on.

Before we started fishing, Buck attached two pork rinds, one spotted green the other white. He told me, as he attached the spotted green rind to both hooks, that this was the best color scheme. He then attached the white rind to the bottom hook.

Buck would be jigging and I would be driving the skiff and he told me to creep along the bank, keeping the skiff about 10 feet out. The long pole allowed him to jig the baits along the bank, along any fallen tree, around a stump, or any other obstruction. As we slowly moved along, Buck really worked the baits carefully.

He carried the rod butt along the bottom of his forearm, grasped the pole securely and gently tap, tap tapped, the rod tip on the surface. The tip made dimpled circles in the water, the pork rinds jumped and slid below the surface and not 50 yards from starting a bass smashed it. He didn’t set the hook, but just held on to the pole. Then he hand over handed the pole back until he jerked the bass, a 4 pounder, into the boat. He made it look so easy!

Bass aren’t the only fish that will hit the bait. Goggle eye perch, rock bass or one of many local names such as, warmouth bass, chinquapin, shellcracker, mason bream, tupelo bream, mongrel bream, yellow bream, stumpknocker or GI (Government Improved) bream will also strike viciously at the jigged bait. These smaller fish do fry up well and are most welcome on the stringer!

When Buck and I jigged it was usually around the edges of a pond or lake in water from 1 foot to 4. Don’t hesitate to fish over an area 2 or 3 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 and fallen timber on Lake Sam Rayburn’s south side in up to 20 feet of water and hammered the bass. He would jig around each stump, beside and under the fallen timber, sometimes just jigging out in the open water, but he pulled the fish up from the depths and, needless to say, he won the bet!

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