Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Voices from the Past: Dixie Carroll

Those who have read this blog for awhile know that one of my favorite writers is Dixie Carroll. This article is enjoyable for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it helps explain why half the lures in any vintage tackle box are red head/white body models. This is one of his early syndicated columns dating from July 1916.

Wobblers, Wigglers and Such
My Dear Buck: They are with us by. the hundreds, and even thousands, the various-shaped wooden plugs, painted in every color in the deck and then a few extra cubist daubs thrown in for luck. And here's the funny part, old chap, they all seem to get the fish, more or less, according to the expertness of the manipulator of the rod.

Although the majority of the artificial baits do not resemble any natural bait, that is, not that you could notice without first having read their pedigrees, through some inexplainable reason the fish strike them, and as they generally have hooks galore, even the beginner has no difficulty in hooking his fish; fact is, many times the fish hooks itself. Of course you'll have to jot this down in your dream-book, "Hookin' 'em doesn't always mean landin' 'em."

What Makes 'Em Do It
Probably when a highly cultured bass sees one of these gloriously decorated affairs splash in his home grounds he up and makes a dash at it in anger at the rough-neck intrusion of the queer-looking object, or perhaps strikes it in pure cussedness ; egged on by the wonderful movements of the little demon in its wobble back home to the caster.

How they ever dug the big bunch out of the woodpile and got away it is the eighth wonder of the world. More power to ‘em. What would a fellow do if he couldn’t browse around among a bunch of new ones and select a few to take along on each trip and try them out on the unsuspecting fish. Every time you get a new selection you have a sneaking idea that you have perhaps al last found the “killer” you are always on the lookout for.

You can get them shaped like a minnow or fashioned after a chunk of pork and they are sometimes armed with a spinner fore and aft, while in the last few years plugs resembling nothing in particular have been put temptingly before the eyes of the fishermen and touted as one of the best of the season. Some of them don’t look like fish feed, but they have a little groove, flute or curve that makes them fo a Turkish dance through the water that even an oldtime “he bass” falls for.

You Never Can Tell
You never know what you can do with one of these dippy, diving, wobbling wonders ‘till you try it and then all the advance dope and traditions of that particular bait may go to smash in one afternoon’s fishing and new victories in an entirely different line of fishing be pegged up to its credit.

To illustrate the point, old man, at the opening of the season I took a flyer at bass. It had been cold and rainy, with high waters, and the bass were quiet an far-offish. My tackle box was decked out with a collection of lures guaranteed to make any bass nervous, jealous, or fighting mad. The bass sure were off their feed, both in color and shape. Nothing seemed to coax them out of the wet. I snapped on a South Bend Bass-oreno bait, all white with a red head, and tried that as an enticer. Nothing doing with the bass, but I had as nice a piece of wall-eyed pike fishing as a fellow could find anywhere. Almost every cast brought a strike, and in the afternoon’s casting this little old bass lure hooked 32 wall-eyed pike, all of which were thrown back in the drink except the larger ones and that left a stringer with the limit and none below two pounds, topped with a six and a half pounder. My fishing pal and guide had the same luck with a white Wilson Wobbler with red flutes, by which he swears like a pagan. They were sure off the bass but on the pike.

The Colors They Like
As to colors, the prefernce seems to be with the white body and red head, followed by all red, all yellow, green back with white belly and rainbow, but what they take one day may be passed without a squint the next. However, with the above colors in your tackle outfit you probably can please them any day.

The luminous-painted plug, which if exposed to daylight or artificial light, glows like the dampened head of a match, makes an excellent bait for after sundown or moonlight casting. The fact that these baits float when in the water and not in motion makes then an idea lure for the beginner, especially when he puts in a session with a little old backlash. He knows his bait is floating instead of snagging, which was the habit of the “daddy” of this kind of plug, the old underwater sinker that found more snags and hook holds than a fellow thought could exist in well-regulated fishing waters.

Lures That Make ‘Em Strike
For a selection of lively artificials, the Jamison Coaxer, which is a cross between a chunk of pork and a humming bird, makes a good one to start with; the Heddon's Baby Crab Wigler gives all the moves of a crawfish going home to its mother and that sure is pie for the bass. The Wilson Fluted Wobbler, South Bend Bass-oreno and Rush Tango Minnow, all with white body and red heads, give you a bunch or dives, dips and and crawls that is hard, to beat. The Pfluegcr-Surprise minnow, Apex Bull-nose and the Jim Dandy plug have the motion of a crippled minnow, easy feed for a hungry fish.

With these baits in your tackle box, and any others that tickle your fancy, you ought to be able to slip one over on the unsuspecting fish, and at the same time have a lot of fun watching them do their dance in the water.

-- Dr. Todd

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