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“THE CASTAWAY REEL”

 

I was bit by the fishing bug at an early age.  Growing up in East Texas in the 1940’s and the 1950’s gave me ample ponds, lakes, and rivers in which to practice my new avocation.

 

My uncle Ben Woods was an avid fisherman and he taught me the fine art of bait casting, river fishing, set hooks, and trot lines. Each summer he would take me over into Louisiana where we would fish on Black Lake for an entire week.  If the fish were not biting in Black Lake, we would drive a few miles to the Cane River and set out trot lines to catch catfish.

 

The time came when I felt that I needed my own fishing gear, rather than using borrowed gear.  Around the age of fourteen, I went to our local Western Auto store and selected a nice bait casting reel, a spiffy fiberglass rod, a metal tackle box, and a few lures.  My favorite lures were “Lucky Thirteen”, “River Runts”, and the brand new “Hawaiian Wiggler” which had a rubber “skirt” which hid the hook from the view of the bass.

 

Since I had very little money, these items were put on the “lay away” plan.  The store kept the items in storage until I gradually paid them off.  After several months of paying a spare dollar to the store as often as my limited budget would allow, the items were finally mine to take home and use.

 

To celebrate the occasion, my Uncle Ben agreed to take me fishing on the Attoyac River, located about 10 miles west of my home town. I had taken great care in putting the 18 pound test line on my new reel, and I felt that I was ready to take on any bass in the river, and win.  However, Murphy ’s Law was about to strike me a severe blow.

 

We did not bring a boat, so we were “bank fishing” the river, which was heavily wooded with a lot of underbrush, which hindered the casting of the bait.  With a 36 inch rod I had to locate places on the river bank that gave me enough room to cast the lure.

 

I located a good spot in the river that I felt sure a bass would be hiding, awaiting a morsel of food to swim by.  Due to the underbrush around me, I had to cast underhanded and between my legs.  Here’s where Murphy’s Law struck.  The lure caught on the leg of my blue jeans which jerked the rod and reel from my grasp.  I watched in horror as my brand new equipment fell into the muddy waters of the river.  For a moment, panic set in.  Then I remembered a simple solution to the problem……..just unhook the lure from my pants leg and pull the rod and reel in. It seemed simple enough.

 

Well, I learned a good lesson that day.  I had  been careless in tying the fishing line to the reel.  So, instead of being able to retrieve my new rod and reel, I came up with nothing but line.  Neither me nor my uncle felt brave enough to swim out in the muddy waters and try to retrieve the rod and reel from the bottom of the river.  I suppose it is still there to this day, some sixty-five years later.

 

I went into a period of grief about losing my new rod and reel.  Several weeks later my father had pity on me and replaced them, and it was not even my birthday or Christmas.  The replacement rod and reel served me well, even into adulthood.  Unfortunately Murphy ’s Law struck again as someone stole all my fishing equipment from my garage.  This time I could afford to replace them myself….but they are now stored safely inside my house.

 

Now my son is an avid fisherman, but he has equipment that I could never afford.  He says that I taught him everything he knows about fishing, as I would take him fishing when he was a young boy.  He knows about Murphy’s Law, and he knows how important it is to tie the fishing line on the reel securely so that he will not experience a “castaway reel”.