Scrapbook One Hundred Fourteen…




Cork Poppers Galore

While we’re talking about fishing I thought I’d throw this story in.

Every time I found an old piece of cork, I’d make a bass popper out of it. Wine bottle stoppers were good. My father taught me how to make those things, but I’ll admit to not having made one in over 60 years.

First, I’d take a big Eagle Claw hook and clamp it in the vise. Then I’d tie the tail on, which took some imagination. Every popper was different, and sometimes I’d tie on grizzly saddle hackles, javelina bristles, squirrel fur, or hair from the rear end of my neighbor’s cat. Once I found a bald-headed lady’s brunette wig at the dump. It made good popper tail material.

Then I’d shape the cork to look like something a big fish wanted to eat, and bind it to the hook shank. Bass are carnivorous animals so the juicier the bait looks, the more likely they are to attack it. They especially like frogs.

The fun part came next, and that was painting the lure. I used some of my sister’s fingernail polish and that added to the excitement for me.  Ha, she never found out, and a salvo of discouragements would’ve blistered my ears if she’d known. Oh, please forget I said that last part.

I put lots of eyes on my poppers to make them look threatening. Bass will usually attack when they feel frightened. That twist of knowlege always gave me an edge.

The fact is I never fished with any of my hand-painted poppers, and that’s the truth. There was no way a slippery sided smallmouth black bass was going to scratch the paint on my special, sculptural artforms. That’d be tantamount to messing with my poem. f

142 thoughts on “Scrapbook One Hundred Fourteen…

  1. Just shows what one can do with some tools and a little imagination.
    I was never able to carve cork. 😛

    Thanks for sharing

  2. Why not? You have always had that edge? For e all a little fisherman needs the palate is pale. Just follow a big foot trail to the west and I’ll show you a fisherman far from the best. For every fish knows a big mouth is best, except for a brown wise to the test. Color is weak for a fish with poor eyes, that’s why I follow a man in disguise. So watch me closely and watch me wise. My answer to you is show me the prize. Good luck.

  3. I haven’t been fishing in a long time. My dad used to make doughballs out of wheaties and I can’t remember what else. Fish seemed to like it. The other guys comment about fishin the Tennessee river reminded me of home. I moved to Albuquerque from Tennessee in 2010 . I love the desert and am looking forward to getting out to look for the treasure. Sure is a lot of research invol ed. Just the word brown has so many meanings it’s incredible. Im sure I’ll be out there before I m confident about where Im going. Gives me a reason to get out into the great outdoors.

  4. those are the cutest things ,I have ever seen,if it didn’t have the hook in them,they would be fun to collect.but i’m afraid,i’d get the hook caught in brother got a fish hook in his hand one time and had to watch daddy cut of the barbed part to pull the hook out.nice job.

  5. Forrest, your poppers may not have seen the action they were intended for, but look at how great they are all of these years later ! The frog scheme was always the best in my neck of the woods. Thanks for another glimpse of your stuff…

  6. They don’t make lures like they used to. I really enjoy looking at fishing from the past. 🙂

    • I’m with you you lucky dog just give me a hole and a grappling pole and I’ll show you the way that a big mouth might play.

  7. Forrest, I’m going to try to make some of those for my husband, but we will use them. I will dip them in lacquer or something so maybe they won’t get ruined by the fish. Those are so brightly colored and adorable! Thank you!

  8. Love the idea and Colors, Forrest!!! You are the true artist. Peggy Can Be Proud…I bet your grand kids have played with them (carefully) over the years….

  9. I’m a little surprised that you didn’t use some of the elastic strings out of your undershorts. If you thread several through the body, so that they stick out both sides, it appears like legs, and stabilizes the floating. A twitch on the rod causes them to appear to move, and it will catch more fish.
    They are beautiful!

  10. .
    Beautiful, Forrest. And, they’d make great Christamas tree ornaments, too. ( although to keep them out of reach of young kids and cats).

    Happy Holidays,

    • LOL Yep, not sure they even made those colors way back when. Sometimes I look at my daughters polish and wonder WHY? 🙂

  11. Well, well, well, how deep is a hole? Just gonna jump right in!

    Love the frog with the glass beads on the back. They look like warts. Warts on a frog. ha ha

    So bright and shiny, they remind me of Christmas morning. New and pretty.

  12. You have a keen eye and a steady hand Forrest Fenn. They are as lovely and inviting as a bowl of candy– just have to keep clear of the hooks.

  13. Wow… At first glance I thought f was planning a TTOTC Party Event!
    They do resemble party poppers… Pull the cord and BANG! Sprinkles of confetti and streamers everywhere… If I were a fish, I’d be a little apprehensive about trying one garish edibles. Maybe a Clownfish would want to try it… But if we’re talking bass fishing, I think your best bet would be something that resembles the “real-thing”. All in my opinion of course…

  14. The Pineapple Express going through CA today. I’m sure a few of you are enjoying the novelty of rain as much as I am.

    Just when I think Forrest has no more surprises, he surprises us with something new. It gives me smile and a sense of wonder if I am living life fully as I should. Love the colorful cork poppers.

    • Yes 23, we enjoyed a rain shower this morn too. Our lakes really need the water so it’s welcome 🙂

      Also wondering, has anyone received their Christmas arrow point from Forrest. I’m sending my SASE out soon and unsure whether to send a padded envelope. I don’t want the post office machines to break the point.

        • Forrest, thanks again for your generosity and kindness to respond. I’ll send a padded envelope so the point is protected.

          I wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas filled with joy and peace. Special blessings to you for the adventure laden totc and to your sweet wife for allowing it!

        • Forrest, such a kind gesture!
          Feel like I’m eight and it’s Christmas Eve laying g awake in bed kicking the covers from excitement!!! Thank you for that!!!

        • I am coming up rapidly on 15 years as an electronic technician for the United States Postal Service and one of my jobs has been daily maintenance on the AFCS (automated facer canceler system) and I can say with some certainty that an arrowhead in a standard envelope will probably not get passed that machine, and even if it did a DBCS downstream of it would likely do it in. I wouldnt trust something like that to a “hand cancel and process” note on the letter either, that frequently gets found right after it jammed up the machine. Do yourself a favor and use a padded magazene sized envelope with REGULAR postage. That will likely get sorted on a flat sorter with other magazenes and lighter flat mail that way. With priority postage it will likely be sorted on a SPBS or APPS and could then have a big heavy box fall on it, probably would make it but this is that rare case I would recommend saving a couple bucks since I usually talk up priority.

  15. Correction…If I were a fish, I’d be a little apprehensive about trying one OF THESE garish edibles.

    • Actually Bass love stuff like that and so do pike. They get used to the regular things people are fishing with and learn not to go after it . Some fish are pretty smart.

      • Once tested and hooked a fish has a good memory .It will not go after that same lure for weeks or months after it realized there was danger in biting it. But when you change the bait that’s another story.

        • Any of you gals feel lost and at the mercy of some verrry experienced fishermen? I do. I see those cute poppers and think about arts & crafts instead of looking for poem hints. Sometimes I wander about this blog wondering if Forrest is working on his Phd in psychology and we’re the subject matter or fish chasing his lures and treasure, ha!

          • I feel a little lost also Lia…f’s poppers may be alluring to some I suppose… But hopefully some of us women are smarter than the fisherman that thinks he can seduce a beautiful female bass with such comedic artistry. I will admit though, I love a man with a sense of humor…

          • WiseOne I always thought you were a guy? Really makes more sense that you are a girl…:) and I agree with you about a sense of humor…:)

  16. Ok Dal shut your eyes. These SB’s are better than an orgasm!


    Just saying!!

    • To anyone this may have offended, my apologies. My only excuse is, the medicine hasn’t kicked in yet this morning.

      • BW, I doubt this crowd will be offended, but it’s good that you’re thinking preemptively. A good friend and client, Pat Richmond, a historian and author of some note, once told me “Warren, it’s unlikely that you’ll get in big trouble for not saying something”. I took it as “sometimes, the best thing to say is nothing”. Truth.

        • wd, it may be the truth, but what a boring life. I have always heard that “It is easier to get forgiveness than permission.” A co-worker lived by that philosophy and always got the raises. I played by the rules and remained stagnant.

  17. Thank you again for sharing Mr. Fenn. This is better than the “Twelve Days of Christmas”. Every morning I rush to my computer to discover what wonderful surprise is posted. Thank you Dal for making this all possible.

  18. Fenn you were way ahead of your time……The girl’s nails today look like your lures. 😆 Imagine what you could have done with Jamberrys.

    I would have to try at least one to see if the Bass liked it.

  19. Those are beautiful poppers Forrest. I can see why you never fished with them but I bet the bass would have loved them! :-).

  20. Since bass are considered “warm water” fish, I wonder where they go during winter?

    Maybe Holden Caulfield knows………..

    • Bass are the same place they were in the summer. Although they will migrate to warmer water if they can. A bass goes somewhat dormant in the winter time and they slow down. They will go deep where the water temp stays more constant. If you want to catch a bass in the winter go deep and fish with a live minnow. You have to wait longer when they bite before you set the hook because they are slow in winter.

      • Woody you live in Montana, do you a lot of bass in the lakes up there? I live in Florida and I do quite a bit of fishing in the gulf of Mexico and rule of thumb is when temperature reaches 75 degree water is when the fish start biting. I like Forrest’s poppers and would love to try one to see if they allure any big mouth bass.

        There seems to be a underline moral to the story but we each have a different take on it.

        • William .. There are Bass here in some of the lakes. But I also lived in New-Mexico for 13 years and fished Elephant Butte lake and all over NM. I also had personal friends that worked at Bass products and Marine in Albuquerque i used to hunt and fish with all the time Including Tournaments at the lake. The black cliffs across the lake on the east side was great for Bass fishing . you could flip a plastic lizard off the bank an wala fish on

  21. 🙂 f, you have managed to bring out a big smile out of me. Heck, I nearly chuckled. I had never thought of the Largemouth like that before. My wife caught a fish back in 1988 (we were not married then and I remember the year because that is when we graduated from our high schools). That fish, I’m sure, would have loved those luers… especially the frog. Well, she managed to keep that fish around, feeding him varietal diet including frogs. She didn’t like to catch the frogs so she would just let the fish do the catching and eating. She made me laugh inside when she tasted a frog to find out why her fish devoured the frogs whenever the fish had the opportunity. Her contorted expression told me that the thought of eating frog was not to her liking.
    Since this is a treasure hunt, I will add that the research I continue to do during this winter season makes me smile still. Maybe it’s just me… I once had the nickname “Smiley” gived to me by a cook.
    Now, I better go before my wife catches on that I’m talking about her and her fish story. Good luck on searching everyone!

  22. Just came off the mountain….whew! The road is nearly washed out in a few spots, and before we were even out of the gate we had to buck up a fallen tree! Anyway, made it through…6=inches in 18 hours!

    Forrest, your endless talent amazes me. There are no words.
    Thank you so much for being you and for sharing with all of us!!!

  23. That one guy should be ‘titled’ binocular eyes. Very impressive! Maybe you missed your calling. Speciality lures.

  24. Oh boy! I’ve gotten lost in these latest posts. I’ll let the smarter blog participants clue me in. I’m spinning in circles, wondering which way to go!

  25. Forrest, if you need someone to try one of your bass poppers, just let me know. I too, have been a fisherman all my 65 years. My dad bought me my first fly fishing rod when I was 6 years old. I still have it hanging in my garage. I live right outside of Austin Texas, home of some huge bass. I think they would love to get a closer look at a popper. Thanks for showing us all how some of you people are just more creative than others. Love all your stories.

  26. BW, my last name is “fail” and we all misjudge now and then. I did laugh and think about your comment 🙂

  27. Forrest,

    Those corkers are excellent, some of them almost psychedelic. They might mesmerize a bass into submission.

    I used to make what we called cork bugs, or more specifically “cwok bugs”, but for trout. They imitated terrestrials, and my brother and I used to love making them. Especially the painting part, as you said. But they float like a cork, of course, so they are very easy to use as dry flies, and very easy to keep your eye on them as they drift.

    We did fly fish with them, and Brown trout loved them back in the streams in the Catskills…


  28. I’ll take those as bait, they are great! OK I have only fished for rainbows and brookies in my time.

    Can anybody explain to me the difference between a big largemouth bass floating under the lily pads and not eating anything and a slippery sided smallmouth black bass that is carnivorous that will voraciously eat anything that frightens it?

    Forrest those are the cutest things i can see why you wouldn’t actually use them!

    Happy Holidaze!

    • Yes, they really are too cute to use? His sister had some pretty interesting taste in finger nail polish…:) I myself would not use them because i lose all my lures on the rocks in the river… My Dear Hubby told me the other day he saw that he could buy a mold to make lead weights so he is going to make me a bunch since I lose so many…:)

      • If you could use something else besides lead, the raptors and waterfowl would appreciate it. :-). Many of them die of lead poisoning every year and some states have outlawed, or are considering outlawing, lead sinkers.

        • Here is some info on the differences of the Big and Small mouth Bass. It doesn’t answer your question but it’s kinda interesting… imho

          To tell small mouth and large mouth bass apart, look at the closed mouth. If it extends back beyond the back of the eye, the fish is a largemouth. If it goes only to the middle of the eye, it’s a smallmouth.

          • Spallies, thank you for the bass info. All those large mouth bass hiding under the Lily pad comments float right by me w/o clarity. How are you doing with your solve? Any serious work solving the poem is on hold until after the holidays for me. Too much entertaining, cooking etc in our home.

          • Hi Lia!
            Thanks and Happy Holidays… My solve is the same as ever still standing by it although I seem to be alone in my stance… but that’s ok with me. Somehow I will be ok… I always seem to make it through… don’t we all??? I am having a lot of fun preparing for the holidays. I hope you and your family have a great and joyous time.

    • homecoming76 – I hope someone answers your question about the largemouth bass and small bass. I’m curious too.

  29. It’s dinnertime and I’m hungry…
    That beaded polka dot frog is looking pretty tasty.
    I’m going to see if it tastes as good as it looks…

    Those frog and PacMan like creatures are suggestive to me of Christmas decorations. And that reminds me that today, December 12th, was Christmas on the island. Every kid that lives out here knows that Santa doesn’t come to the islands by reindeer powered sleigh. He comes by boat…and today was the day that he arrived.

    As many know, I live on an island in the Salish Sea. An area sometimes described as northern Puget Sound and at other times as the southern Georgia Strait. It is an archipelago of more than a hundred islands that dot the waters straddling the Canada/USA border to the east of Vancouver Island and to the west of mainland Washington State and mainland British Columbia.

    When folks first settled these islands practically all the highways were on the water because the thickly rain-forested land was impossible to traverse. Canoe and sailing vessel were the preferred methods used by Native Americans and settlers alike, to get around. So it didn’t matter whether you lived on an island or on the mainland…there was no particular advantage to living one place or the other until the towns and railroads carved out places along the shoreline. Once roads connected the towns on the mainland and once there were rail lines stretching between urban areas it made more economic sense to live on the mainland where jobs and opportunities were bigger. The islands became a bit of a backwater to go-getters and Nirvana to those of us not quite accepting of where society in general was heading.

    So, for the most part, the islands became areas of little economic value that were shunned by the profiteers of the 20th and 21st century. The folks who gravitated here were generally poorer folks, rich in spirit and interested in a self-sustaining lifestyle. There were also a few folks who were rich enough to afford a “vacation” home in the islands where they could escape the pressure of their mainland life for a few weeks every year.

    The families that chose to live, year-round on these islands are often isolated by water, weather and lack of utilities to the rest of the world. They stay on these islands because it is a lifestyle they cherish. Often, they pay no attention to what is happening on the newscasts of the universe. They care mainly about their vegetable gardens and whether or not the salmon are running and the deer are breeding. A very few islands have ferry service to the mainland. The overwhelming majority do not.

    The island I live on does have a small ferry to that mainland. It is called Lummi Island, but it has had other names through history. We are quite close to the mainland with only about a mile of blue water between us at the closest points. The Lummi Indians occupy a sizable reservation across Hales Pass from the island’s ferry dock, hence the island’s name.

    Earlier tonight every island kid was fixated on that dock with it’s cheery Christmas lights lit up and welcoming to those who might find their way here.

    The Santa boat arrived at 7:20pm. Every loud and flashing thing on the island goes there to meet old Santa. Our fire engine and ambulance with red and yellow strobing lights and sirens wailing. A big truck from the quarry with an airhorn. Holiday music blares from car radios all around the dock. It is a chaotic festive congregation of holiday spirits.

    Santa, Mrs. Claus, elfs and helpers disgorge from the Santa boat and romp the quarter mile to the old wooden schoolhouse that is the center of island life. It has been our heart, our community center and hall of learning since 1908. It is attended by children and adored by adults. Here, tonight, every island child has a chance to meet with Santa, profess to be a beacon of goodness and generosity and receive copious, hand crafted gifts designed to make a child’s face light up with joy. There are carved wooden trucks with wooden wheels, hand puppets of various woodland critters from birds to porcupines. A pirate makes balloon swords for everyone and a dozen noisy, pretend sword fights erupt and then “pop” to a sudden end all around the floor. A craft table with the raw elements to make your very own snowflake is manned by an elf with the patience of Job. There is popcorn and cookies and plenty of sweet candies to choose from. There is music and joy and life. There are babies and moms and dads all believing as hard as they can that this is the season of joy. Far be it from me to tell them otherwise.

    It is one of the finest and warmest events on this island. It has been going on since the 1920s as far as anyone can remember and it is a highly anticipated and memory bound day for all children on the island.

    Merry Christmas everyone!!

    • Dal, very enjoyable and informative story. Thanks for sharing and Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    • What a lovely place you have chosen for your home. Hope the latest round of storms didn’t dampen your festivities but I guess you all are hardened to the sometimes harsh weather up there. Would love to hear more about your island. How did you land there?

    • And a Merry Christmas to you Dal.

      I see Dal failed to mention the indigenous tribe of head hunters that still inhabit those islands. He fits right in. 🙂

    • Dal, thank you for sharing your life and splendid stories with us!

      A warm and joyful Christmas to you and your friends on Lummi Island!

      PS – you must be a celebrity among the islanders 😉

    • Lovely Island Dal. I haven’t been up that far. I live right below you in the great state of Oregon. Merry Christmas to the lummi-ites.

    • I remember taking whale watching trips out of Anacortes up that way when my wife and I lived in Everett a decade ago. Spent many a great afternoon on the Island Explorer II. Kind of got spoiled on our first outing though, J K and L pods all met up that afternoon in one area and there was nothing but orcas spy hopping and flat out leaping everywhere you looked. BTW, go Seahawks!!!

    • Someday adults will be homeward bound to the Island telling their children of this night they remember long ago. Thanks Dal, just beautiful visions.

      I know of your islands beautiful somewhat, I lived on Whidbey Island years ago.

      • Yes, definitely… the most beautiful neck of the woods. My favorite is dropping down into the Valley… If this area was on the map that would be my Canyon Down….

        • Matt, Are you still in the area???

          I spent a lot of my child hood at Bowman’s bay at the park in Deception Pass… As kids we took the trail over to Rosario Beach or was it Agate beach??? Many times, Many times all by ourselves… One time (us kids) set out to the light house on the cliff we were told not to go to…because of the dangerous cliffs… Fortunately, we made it back safe but wow!!! That was that a wonderful adventure… I still remember it to this day!!! Maybe before the weather turns too bad I might head back over there and revisit it’s beauty..:0 Thanks for bringing up the memories…:)

          • Nopenow a days I am back in big red country in Nebraska, but I lived in Oak Harbor back in the early 80’s and then again in Tacoma and Everett before moving back here about 9 years ago. Still love it out there though. I would love to get a place up on Lopez or Orcas island if the opportunity ever happened though

        • Being a terrified of anything above sea level, the first time I drove over Deception Pass Bridge, I cried I was so frightened.

          It was a beautiful area.

  31. Merry Christmas Dal…
    May it be merry and bright!

    Lummi Island is lovely. What an idyllic, peaceful life. How long has your family called it home?

  32. Dal,
    I found this poem by an author unknown,
    it seems to fit you and your beautiful home…

    He travelled inwards,
    To that heart
    where no one else roamed.
    Where only the the birds and animals
    found a home.
    Where the pixies flew with an audible air,
    and tangles leaves within my hair.
    Ah, I love this place, this paradise,
    where everything is so beautiful,
    so still, and so nice,
    the heart of the forest,
    this paradise.

  33. Dal Clemmens of the Lummis… it has a certain ring to it. Perhaps Dal is ringing in Christmas today with a bell on the island. I love the bell tradition that Eric Sloane and Forrest have brought back to life. I purchased a set of jingle bells to honor that tradition in our home on Christmas Eve starting this year. Enjoy your day everyone.

  34. Well, it looks like we’ve got the whole gang together on this fine Saturday morning. 42, Lia and Forrest. I’m headed to Eastern Oregon with two friends to get a steak from Cowboy tree diner. We’ve been listening to the radio and had to pull off quickly…gas was getting low. You can’t let your gas gauge get down that far, especially out here in wilderness territory. Beautiful area, earlier I couldn’t get the window open fast enough for a shot of three finger jack. I have my trusty Sony RX1 along for moments like those. Merry Christmas everyone!

    • Ed, safe journeys! Enjoy the ride. I read that happiness is not a destination, but an ongoing journey 🙂

      Bye all. I better finish cleaning and dinner prep for guests.

  35. MattB thanks for sharing your postal expertise. I did just as you suggested sending Forrest a uspo priority envelope with a padded envelope enclosed. Didn’t want to take chances. I appreciate your help Matt!

    • Your welcome. Figured it would help you get your parcel delivered safely and keep the local ET’s in New Mexico from having to dig them out from whatever pinch point they got wedged in. Happy Holidays

  36. Dal,Thanks for the il”lummi”nating info on where you live. Sounds like a real nice location !
    Best wishes for the Holidays one and all…

  37. Just because a big bass sits quietly under the lily pads doesn’t mean that he don’t see the bait. It just means that its not time to strike….Lures can be tempting to even a smart bass, but the wrong one will poke ya……:)

  38. Ed, enjoy the airwaves south of the border. Cha cha cha! I’m headed to Montana in my dreams and in my solve. Figuring out which river Brad Pitt fished in River Runs Through It is nearly as complicated as figuring out which river runs through Forrest’s poem.
    The correct river in the book is the big Blackfoot but the movie was filmed on the Gallatin and Boulder Rivers because Redford likes the shots better. None of the footage resembles Blackfoot River territory. Interestingly, Fenn Mountain isn’t far from the Blackfoot River.

      • Spallies, Fenn Mountain is in Montana. Nearest named spots (towns?) on a map might be Lincoln or Ovando. It’s not an area that matches well with clues in the poem and certainly not an area Forrest wrote of. Use Topozone and search it.

  39. Spallies, here’s a link to Montanas Fenn Mountain. If you research be sure you aren’t at Idaho’s Fenn Mountain.

    It’s near Seely lake adjacent the Scapegoat Wilderness. I was friends with Cecil Garland who was the first to have legislators in Montana designate wilderness land to be set aside as such. MT loggers nearly ran him out of the state. A long hard fought battle to preserve the land.

  40. Forrest you hardly ever talk about your sister June but I cannot imagine her wearing yellow or green nail polish. Brown or bronze would have been better …I’m glad she never found out,that would have been disasterous.
    Would be nice to know a little more of June.

  41. mr. f, I like how you crafted the poppers is also the same way you crafted the poem. you first clamped the ‘hook’ and attached the tail. why that first? then shaped the poem and attached it to the hook. no wonder is so difficult to find that hook now. Then you painted it with lots of weird words and lots of eyes, yes too many eyes. That tail may fall one day and the hook will be exposed. Great work.

  42. Has anyone seen fenn show any demonstrations or tying of these cork poppers, I thought I seen a pic or a clip but can’t remember where?

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