Let’s Look Back – Part 35

Two time Bass Classic winner Bobby Murray gets his share of fish on a Zara Spook.  And he didn't have to have quiet water to do it. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Two time Bass Classic winner Bobby Murray gets his share of fish on a Zara Spook. And he didn’t have to have quiet water to do it. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

America’s most popular sports fish doesn’t “always” do anything.

If you’ve read some of the millions of words I’ve written about largemouth bass over most of the past century you’ve undoubtedly seen me make that comment before. It’s my contention an angler can count on “usually” and “often” in their approach to this business of bass fishing. But stuff your “always” thinking where the sun don’t shine!

I’ve reached these sentiments after almost three quarters of a century of trying to put bass in the boat myself or watching and then writing about others trying to do the same. I hate to admit the number of times I’ve had things all figured out and then had those big mouthed buggers kick me and some of my bass fishing “facts” clear down to “Helen Gone’s” barn. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back – Part 34

It didn't take Bobby Murray long to show the bass fishing world his talents.  He brought this beautiful stringer to weigh in one day at the first Bassmasters Classic held at Lake Mead in 1971.  Bobby won the event.  He also took the Classic crown again 10 years later. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

It didn’t take Bobby Murray long to show the bass fishing world his talents. He brought this beautiful stringer to weigh in one day at the first Bassmasters Classic held at Lake Mead in 1971. Bobby won the event. He also took the Classic crown again 10 years later. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

As I detailed in my previous column, the “Dog Walker” rod Gary Loomis was marketing for a time in the early days of his rod building business was designed especially for fishing a Zara Spook.

He named these rods “Dog Walker” because it’s a technique called “Walking the Dog” that has kept Zara Spooks on the market ever since they were introduced by the Heddon Lure Company way back in 1939.

Did these lures start getting results right off the bat? They must have. The records show that the Spook was the first of the Heddon lures to top one million in sales. I’d also be willing to bet that this wondrous old lure has probably had as much or more written about it than any other bass bait. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back Part 33

The Zara Spook has been one of my favorite surface baits for a long, long time. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

The Zara Spook has been one of my favorite surface baits for a long, long time. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

One of my best friends in the high country of Arizona is as big a bass fishing nut as I am.

There are differences, of course, and one of them is that like most of the other bass men I meet these days he’s a heck of a lot younger. I was reminded of that a couple of years ago when this good friend came to me with a request.

“Stan,” he said, “I’ve read some of the stuff you’ve written about fishing a Zara Spook. I’ve just never gotten around to throwing those things. Any chance I could get you to show me how you use one?”

I could, as the name of my column here at the Bass Fishing Archives indicates, look back over a whole lot years of personally getting these wondrous old baits to do their thing. Along with a handful of other old lures that came along decades ago, they’ve provided me with more than their share of spine tingling memories. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back-Part 32

On one of my early trips to a Mexican lake the guide had us troll 10-inch worms way behind the boat.  It paid off. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

On one of my early trips to a Mexican lake the guide had us troll 10-inch worms way behind the boat. It paid off. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

You darn well better learn to listen to what the fish are trying to tell you if you expect some of them to join you for dinner.

I made a comment like that once while doing a casting exhibition years ago at the annual outdoor show held in connection with the Bassmasters Classic. There was a collective snort of sorts from my audience. “When,” asked a bearded old guy in the front row, “did fish start talking? I ain’t never caught any that did.”

I endeavored to explain what I was trying to say. No, of course fish don’t “talk” in the usual sense, but they certainly will show you their likes and dislikes if you’ll simply give them the opportunity. I guess the best way to explain it is simply to say it’s a situation where actions do indeed speak louder than words. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back – Part 31

It's my contention that bass, especially the big old ones, are more inclined to show interest in lures they've not seen before.  They've probably seen more spinnerbaits like the one I have in my right hand than you and I have.  That's not going to be true of the Bomber Waterdog and its pork rind strip trailer I'm holding in my left hand. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

It’s my contention that bass, especially the big old ones, are more inclined to show interest in lures they’ve not seen before. They’ve probably seen more spinnerbaits like the one I have in my right hand than you and I have. That’s not going to be true of the Bomber Waterdog and its pork rind strip trailer I’m holding in my left hand. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

I wouldn’t have bet you a cold bottle of Bud I’d ever get a bass to look twice at the goofy looking rig I was fixin’ to fish with.

If you’ve read my previous columns here at Let’s Look Back you know the “goofy looking rig” I’m talking about was a diving Bomber Waterdog bass plug with a 5-inch strip of white Uncle Josh pork rind attached to its hind end.

I’d been surprised how bass reacted to pork strips and chunks attached to a variety of lures in the past and used with different presentations. I suppose that’s why I eventually removed the teensy little spinner that came attached to the rear of the Waterdog and replaced it with a pork rind strip. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back – Part 30

I kept wondering if a 5-inch Uncle Josh pork rind strip might work better as a trailer for this Bomber Waterdog than the tiny spinner that was attached to its hind end when I took it out of the box. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

I kept wondering if a 5-inch Uncle Josh pork rind strip might work better as a trailer for this Bomber Waterdog than the tiny spinner that was attached to its hind end when I took it out of the box. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Are the larger lures you’ve got in your tackle box your best bet for taking big bass?

My own fishing for a generous chunk of the past century tells me they are. As I mentioned in my previous column, this certainly isn’t “always” going to happen. But neither is almost anything else associated with putting bass in the boat.

If you read that previous column you’re also aware that I mentioned the old Bomber Waterdog being one of my big baits that produced some big bass. It didn’t happen, however, just the way that bait came out of the box. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back – Part 29

It won't "always" happen, but my own experience shows it's often my larger baits that wind up catching my biggest bass.  You won't see an abundance of bass this size caught in the waters of the Pacific Northwest where this one came from. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

It won’t “always” happen, but my own experience shows it’s often my larger baits that wind up catching my biggest bass. You won’t see an abundance of bass this size caught in the waters of the Pacific Northwest where this one came from. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Those blasted bass are forever endeavoring to get me to increase my already considerable inventory of various forms of profanity.

Why do I make that comment? Because just when I think I’ve got things halfway figured out those big-mouthed buggers often proceed to knock my latest theories way to hell and gone out of the piscatorial ballpark.

I’ve had opportunity to fish for bass in a whole lot of different places for more years than many less fortunate plug pitchers even get to keep on breathing. Be that as it may, I often catch myself thinking I don’t have as many for-sure answers as I think I should. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back – Part 28

You're looking at an Uncle Josh Pollywoggler attached to a Johnson Silver Minnow.  The combination was one of my best early day lures for fishing pad cover.  Note the red yarn that sticks out of each side of the Pollywoggler's head. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

You’re looking at an Uncle Josh Pollywoggler attached to a Johnson Silver Minnow. The combination was one of my best early day lures for fishing pad cover. Note the red yarn that sticks out of each side of the Pollywoggler’s head. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Every time I start looking back – as the name of this column suggests – sooner or later I wind up thinking about the pork of a pig. If you’ve been reading these recent columns you know what I’m talking about.

I’ve told how I caught my first bass away back in 1936 on a self carved piece of pork that I’d hung behind a dime sized spinner. I’ve also detailed how I fell in love with the plain old Pork Chunk the good folks at Uncle Josh came up with.

I’ve been asked several times just when the different kinds of pork rind first came on the angling scene. Evidently it all got started around 1920. A guy named Alan Jones and one of his fishing buddies got the pork rind ball rolling then in the State of Wisconsin. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back – Pork Rind Part Two

This is the  Pork Chunk bait the Uncle Josh people once produced.  How I loved this old bait!  Be assured the bass did too. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

This is the Pork Chunk bait the Uncle Josh people once produced. How I loved this old bait! Be assured the bass did too. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

[Editor’s Note: Part One of this story can be viewed here]

The sudden big boiling swirl quite a ways back in the pad field grabbed all my attention.

“Surely,” I thought, “that can’t be a bass. Whatever the hell tore up those pads is feeding like a shark!” My actual thought was that the surface ruckus had probably been made by a whopping big carp.

There were some really big carp in the lake I was on. I’d caught a few of them myself. They didn’t, however, usually create the surface disturbance back in the pads like the one I’d just seen.

It was mid-July and I had been fishing some of my favorite spots on Southwest Washington’s Silver Lake since daylight. I had just moved into the outer edge of the pad field I’ve mentioned. I’d caught bass there before from time to time. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back – Part 26- Pork Rind

Look at the great bass cover around my bass boat in this picture.  I lived smack on the shore of this Washington State lake for 35 years and fished it as often as I could for about 50 years.  I used pork rind or pork rind attached to a variety of lures for a great many of the bass I caught there---including some of the largest. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Look at the great bass cover around my bass boat in this picture. I lived smack on the shore of this Washington State lake for 35 years and fished it as often as I could for about 50 years. I used pork rind or pork rind attached to a variety of lures for a great many of the bass I caught there—including some of the largest. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

The first bass I ever caught was one that made the mistake of grabbing a piece of pork rind attached to a small Indiana style spinner. There’s a whole lot more to the story.

The time was 1936. My family had moved to Washington State from North Dakota earlier that year. Mom and dad had lost what little they ever had after 19 years of blood, sweat and tears on their little Dakota wheat farm.

They were victims of the great drought that accompanied the great depression of those years. They put what little they could stuff into the rumble seat of a beat up old Model A, stuck me in with it and headed West.

We wound up in Longview. At the time Longview was a town of about 12,000. It’s located in the southwest part of the Evergreen State and about 50 miles down the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back – Part 21

Porter Wagoner was standing in the door of his dressing room when I walked by backstage while the Saturday night Grand Ole Opry show was under way. He asked me to come in because he had something he wanted to show me. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Porter Wagoner was standing in the door of his dressing room when I walked by backstage while the Saturday night Grand Ole Opry show was under way. He asked me to come in because he had something he wanted to show me. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

It’s a question I’d have difficulty answering.

The question I have in mind would be something like this: “Which do you like best – bass fishing or country music? The truth of the matter is I flat out love ‘em both.

As the title of this column indicates, it deals primarily with events from the past. When I begin reflecting on my own bag of special memories I don’t have to look back very darn far to remember times when my love for bass fishing and country music have rubbed noses.

In this column I’d like to look back at what transpired when I had a chance spend a little time in Nashville, Tennessee. That city, of course, is the heart of country music. And nothing you’ll find there provides more proof of what I’m saying than Saturday night at the Grand Ole Opry. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back – Part 20

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since this picture was taken.  Unlike the battles in some other areas of Pacific combat, I never saw a professional cameraman in the almost two years I spent serving in an infantry rifle company in the South Pacific during World War II.

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since this picture was taken. Unlike the battles in some other areas of Pacific combat, I never saw a professional cameraman in the almost two years I spent serving in an infantry rifle company in the South Pacific during World War II.

[Editor’s Note: Due to Stan’s schedule his “Let’s Look Back” column is only going to be posted once a month from now until whenever he can get caught up. Until then, expect to see Stan’s work here around the 1st of each month.]

My friends know I spent a couple of years with an infantry rifle company in the jungles of the South Pacific during World War II.  They also know how much I love to fish.

“Stan,” I’m often asked, “did you ever get to do any fishing when you were out there in the islands of the South Pacific during World War II?”

My answer is always the same.  “I did some,” I reply, “but not nearly as much as I wish I could have.  And I’m not too proud of the way we went about it when we really did get a bunch of fish.” [Read more…]