If you read my previous Let’s Look Back column you know the subject dealt with a wonderful old bass bait called the Heddon Vamp Spook.
I also made some comments about not being in agreement with that hog crap we hear so often about the old guys like me not being capable of remembering their early day experiences. It was, incidentally, the memories of the first time I ever saw the Heddon Vamp Spook actually being used for bass that’s the reason for this column.
Those memories took place way back when I was in my early teens and just getting into bass fishing. I lived in the city of Longview, Washington at the time. Longview is located in the southwest portion of the Evergreen State and borders the Columbia River.
One of the kids I went to school with was from Alabama. His dad and his dad’s brother were experienced bass fishermen. They’d had lots of bass fishing experience down South.
My classmate asked if I’d like to go along when he and his dad and his dad’s brother went to one of the nearby log ponds to do some bass fishing.
These ponds were backwaters of the Columbia River and used by local lumber mills for log storage. At the time these ponds contained an abundant population of both bass and panfish.
I was brand new to the Pacific Northwest having just arrived there a year or so before from North Dakota.
I didn’t know beans about bass fishing but I’d been reading every darn thing I could find about it. I was really interested in how my friend’s father and his brother would go about trying to catch a few.
The first lure they both used when we reached the log pond was one called a Heddon Basser. They threw this lure out to the edge of the log pond and then left it alone for a few seconds before twitching it around a bit. Keep the name of this lure in mind because I’ll be mentioning it again.
It was what the two men did a little later that really got my attention. The water in the log pond as late evening came was completely quiet and flat. Long shadows were moving out from the western side of the pond’s shoreline.
I watched as the two men now changed lures. What they did with these lures was to cast them way out into the pond and just leave them completely alone until all of the disturbance of their splashing down had gone away.
Once that had transpired they then started reeling them back ever so slowly. Their lures were just barely wiggling as they started back but that movement was sufficient to leave “V” shaped wakes behind them on the pond’s quiet surface.
I had just about made up my inexperienced young mind that those two old guys didn’t know what they were doing. Wrong!
The lure my friend’s father was using was about halfway back to the bank when – Wham! The bass that had exploded under it turned out to be just a tad less than 4-pounds. That fish branded a memory into my brain that’s every darn bit as clear today as it was all those years ago.
I made sure to find out the name of those wake-leaving lures those men were both throwing. Both turned out to be those called Heddon Vamp Spooks. Both were made with a yellow perch finish.
You won’t find either the Heddon Basser or the Heddon Vamp Spooks being marketed today. As far as I’m concerned they can still be every bit as effective as many present day bass baits when used in the right water by someone who knows how they have to be handled to get results.
In my opinion the “right” water for the Vamp Spook are those lakes where yellow perch are the primary forage for largemouth bass. That was certainly true at Washington State’s Silver Lake in the decades I lived on its shore.
As it turned out, using the Vamp Spook only as a “wake” bait was also a mistake. Sometimes it was more effective to cast it right next to cover and just leave it alone. The next step was to get it looking right at you before giving it a couple of light twitches with your rod tip.
I learned that the hits I had with this type of retrieve almost always didn’t come until I made the lure actually dive and start swimming back to the boat. Then they’d usually come after the lure had only moved a few feet. That’s how I nailed that 8-pound, 13-ounce Silver Lake beauty I mentioned in my previous column.
I treasure the few old Heddon Vamp Spooks as well as the Heddon Bassers I still have. The day I no longer can remember the wondrous memories these old beauties have created for me will be time for me to hang up my bassin’ gear and call it a day.