A Devils Horse and a Debt of Gratitude

"Chris, do you want to go to Rick’s pond with us?”

“Yeah Cary!” I said. However, without hesitation I quickly asked, “Can I fish with y’all?”

“Naw buddy. Just follow along, watch us fish and maybe towards the end of our trip, I can teach you how to cast a spinning reel.”

“OK, I’ve always wanted to learn how to use a real rod and reel.” Since all I’ve used up to that point was a red push button Zebco, that was dialed in on catching brim using bread balls and a small cork.

“No problem bud…we’ll see!” he said with a grin.

Then the three of us made our way across the field that flanked the east side of the house to our neighbors pond.

So as expected I sat on the side of Mr. Ricks pond as he and his buddy Eric meticulously fished with nothing to show for their efforts. They tried everything from spinnerbaits to tequila sunrise Culprit worms to broken back rapala’s and the result were all the same…nothing. So with the light fading, my brother looks at me and asks, “You want to learn how to fish Bill Dance?”

I didn’t even respond and quickly started looking through his tackle box to find the “coolest looking lure” and make a lunge for his rod and reel. In short, my choice was a Smithwick Devil’s horse. Mainly because the eye’s were “cool”.

So after a quick lesson on how to tie a blood knot, my brother taught me how to fish.

First, we started with the basics of holding the rod with the reel resting between the middle and ring finger of my right hand. Then, we worked on reeling the lure just high enough to the top of you rod, leaving just enough line so the button rest just below the foregrip. Next I learned to rest the line on my index finger, flip the bale and practice heaving a stickbait with 3 sets of treble hooks as far into the middle of the pond as possible. So after a few botched attempts and a dump truck full of patience, I was successful in completing what my brother was teaching me how to do….casting a lure forward into the great unknown of Rick’s pond.

After the command of “reel in your slack.” A 6 year old sat in the arms of his 16 year old brother, and reeled in his slack and the Devil’s horse tied on the other end of the line.

“Keep reelin’ bud, you’re doing great.” He said with encouragement.

Thanks Cary!” I said, smiling back.

“Just let it sit before it gets close to the bank…it will float back to the surface and you can try it again.”

In short, I never had to make another cast because as the bait was floating to the top, 10 yards from where we were both standing, my first bass I’d ever catch completely engulfed my brother’s frog patterned devils horse.

“Set the hook!” my brother said as he grabbed the base of the rod to make sure I had enough strength to sink the hooks into ole bucket mouth.

“Keep your rod tip up buddy, he almost in…keep reelin’!”

As I made one more heave, while walking away from the pond with the rod bent and the reel screaming, the bass that committed suicide J was lipped by my brother. We were all excited to say the least.

“Great job buddy…dad is gonna’ be so proud!”

“Attaboy Chris, good job, you did it all by yourself.” Eric said.

So, after a few high 5’s and a couple more “attaboy’s” from he and Eric, my 6 year old exaggerated 10lb largemouth, was on its way back to the farm with us so I could show our dad my proud accomplishment.

However, the valuable lesson wasn’t catching a fish, it was learning how to fish, and as I think back about the dialogue that afternoon between me and my brother, I realize he taught me how to fish.

“Reel in your slack, Chris.” “Keep the line tight, bud.” “Make sure you keep the rod tip up.” These are all expressions and techniques good fisherman practice, and I was fortunate to be taught by my brother at the age of 6. Now 27 years later, a charter license, a couple of redfish tournament wins, and a cover on the Mississippi Sportman, I’m incredibly grateful that he asked me to go fishing that day.

So with a Devils horse and a debt of gratitude, I learned to fish from my big brother Cary and I appreciate it. I love you bud!

Tight lines and God Bless!

Chris