Way back in the 50s, when I was but a wee tadpole, my Paps took me fishing on Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River. Don’t recollect what I caught, but vividly remember it was on a big, fat, black lure he called the Arbogast Jitterbug.
And ever since I was that crankin’ 5-year-old, there’s never been anything quite like the jack-in-the-box thrill of a big-bellied bass blasting up on surface bait. The old man started my first tackle box with his very own wobbling wonder. Years later I lost my beloved jiggling her through a willow jungle in a Kansas farm pond. Was so sad I coulda wrote a country tune…
The wife, she left me yesterday,
And now I’m all alone.
The roof, it keeps on leakin’,
Can’t get no home improvement loan.
But that ain’t but the half of it,
Compared to losin’ you,
I got the “Can’t Go Jitterbuggin’ No More” blues.
Instead Harold Ensley became my only friend. In the end, my lust for thrashing bass could only be sated by watching Dan Aykroyd shill Bass O’ Matics on YouTube for hours on end. It wasn’t until the intervention, when my little brother, Rob, introduced me to another Arbogast topwater tease, that I finally stopped sleeping in waders and haunting Ozark tackle shops. My new Hula Popper had a yawning, orange maw big enough to swallow a Packard. OK, a Karmann Ghia. And YELLOW EYES! So help me God, yellow eyes! Just like Scut Farkus.
So it was, long ago, on a steamy August evening just after supper “that me and Bobby wast a-fishin’ flat water in flat light” from our boat dock tucked at the bitter end of Buck Creek cove. (We always talked that a-way when we wast fishin’.)
Said he, “Tie this’n on, flip ‘er over yonder, run the ripple to three feet and then give ‘er a tug.”
“I will if you stop talking like you’re auditioning for Deliverance”, said I.
Plop… Blaa-OOOP… WHAM!
I miss that boy. Passed in aught six. Got some golfin’ stories too. More laughs. Fewer tears.