The end of March 1958 found me casting towards the bank with my trusty, yellow piggy boat, while cruising along the shoreline of a one-acre stock tank in Falls County, Texas. I was congratulating myself on my discovery and manufacture of Release 1, of an inner tube float, bass fishing system. Propulsion was by swim fins attached to each foot and with very little practice I could start and move along slowly and even stop and loiter in one spot for several casts.
The cast landed inches up on the bank; I eased the piggy boat into the water and started my retrieve. It hadn’t moved 2 or 3 feet and was smashed by a hungry bass. Clearing the water, not 10 feet away from me, I could see the droplets flying off as it tried to shake the hook loose. Lipping the bass, slipping it on the stringer and I had landed the first bass officially credited to my new float fishing system. Before dark four more were added and I was sold on this new way to fish!
My bill of materials for the float fishing system was strictly a single level one. One patched inner tube (with no leaks); 3, 24 inch long pieces of rope, and one 5/8 inch piece of plywood, cut with 2 leg holes, drilled to allow the ropes to pass through and rounded off to fit inside of the inner tube.
Drawbacks were a gusty wind and the cold water. We were already water skiing along the coast, but central Texas was just waking up to spring, the water was chilly and a wet suit would have been of more utility than my Wranglers.
Two more afternoon trips were equally successful. On one, I hooked a four, plus pounder and was pulled around the tank. That was a fun trip and I released the fish.
Word spread quickly around my family and my bass fishing friends. My niece’s boy friend invited me for a “demonstration” fishing trip to a special, stock tank on property his Dad managed, just outside of Halletsville. Making sure it was ‘gator free, I accepted.
Donning my flippers, I stepped into my inner tube and waded into the tank. Showing off for boy friend and his Dad, I moved forward with speed, stopped and loitered, backed up a little and let fly a cast along the edge of some moss. The strike on my yellow piggy boat was instantaneous and as I set the hook, my plywood seat broke and down I went, stopping my fall by catching both biceps on the tube.
Boy friend and his Dad were hooting and laughing, I was struggling with the fish and trying to keep myself in the tube. I was wishing the bass would throw the hook, but it didn’t, and it was a great struggle lipping it and getting me, the tube, my rod and reel and the bass to the shore, where I fumbled the fish on to the stringer.
Not being able to figure out why my well-crafted seat had broken, one look by boy friend’s Dad was all it took. He queried, “Jon, you didn’t use marine plywood? Your seat didn’t break it just came unglued! Haw-Haw!”
Version 2 of my bill of material included one 5/8 Inch piece of marine plywood and Release 2 of the product fixed the problem.