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

Scrapbook One Hundred Thirteen…






This little 2¼” lure doesn’t look like much, but please don’t let his appearance mislead you. He’s a killer bait that keeps his talent well hidden until he’s thrown into the water. His name is Pickles. In 1955, I carved him from a piece of oak that I had in my fireplace at Randolph AFB.


Just outside the base was a little pond that was owned by Claude Ivey. He let me fish anytime I wanted to. I’ll bet at least 200 smallmouth black bass succumbed to this bait’s allure. He floats when I leave him alone, but when I start reeling in, he ducks under the water and starts fidgeting in a way that drives fish crazy.

Claude always wanted me to keep two small fish for his family, and I usually took one for Peggy and me. The others I released back into the pond so they could rest up until I returned.

Pickles is retired to an honored place on a bookshelf with a few of his cousins, once removed. They were store-bought so Pickles doesn’t want them in his close proximity. f