A Black & White Life in Living Color

My Momma always said, “Life was like a box. You never know when you’re gonna need them.” As a child of a military parent, we saved boxes for the next move.

Fishing began for me shortly after we left England and moved to Missouri. My Dad fished and I’m pretty sure the only reason he took me with him, when I was around three, was a condition of his release from home duties. My earliest memories include walking around the pond with my Dad and stepping onto the lily pads…falling in the water and being sworn to secrecy not to tell Mom. Fishing at three was nothing more than tossing bread to witness hundreds of bluegill swarming to get their fair share. Daytime excitement led to nighttime despair as Dad came into my bedroom to assure there were no fish, eager to eat my toes, under my bed. Flashlight in hand, Dad clearly showed the coast was clear. To this day, Dad thinks I fish just to get even with those imaginary toe-nibblers. By the time I got to high school, I had attended 9 schools. I made friends through fishing.

In the 60s, we moved from Rhode Island to Turkey. TV was black and white with only 3 channels. When Dad wanted the channel changed, we were the remote control. There wasn’t any TV in Turkey. I acquired my appreciation of radio and an influence on my future talk radio career. Saturday was movie night. There were 6 James Bond movies in the 60s. There were 29 Clay/Ali fights. A Bond movie every 20 months and an Ali fight every 3 months. Much different than today’s revolving door of actors on the screen and in the ring.

Returning to the US and our new Alabama home, we fished, targeting anything that swam, as I was yet to become a bass species snob. We went wherever our legs or Schwinn’s would carry us. We didn’t wear helmets, worry about bad neighborhoods or bad people. With our only rod across the handlebars, exploring was part of the adventure. If a buddy didn’t have a bike, they sat on the seat and we would stand up and pedal all the way to the lake. No bait shop stops for us. Find a stick and scratch for worms. For tackle, we had ZEBCO reels, Berkley lines, and Mustad hooks. We did almost everything to get hooks back, including diving for them. We got very good at climbing trees too. To my knowledge, no one fell out of a tree and broke their neck. If we broke a line and lost our hook, it was nothing to ask a complete stranger to spare one. Eventually we fished with artificial worms, finding plenty of Mann’s Jelly worms. We used them even though they didn’t smell like worms. They smelled like fruit.

I kept in step with black Chuck Converse high top canvas shoes, shorts and a t-shirt. Hats were worn with the bill facing front except when playing baseball, and you were the catcher. The only reason our pants might have been baggy was because we hadn’t quite grown into the hand-me-downs from older brothers, cousins or neighbors. Belts kept our pants from falling down! Boys went to a barbershop to get the same haircuts, not a salon. If Mom wanted to reach us, she called a neighbor to begin the Mom phone tree. No texting or cell calls.

We lived in the Washington, DC area and fished in the Potomac River in 1960 when the TV Indian Chief cried a tear as pollution created dead seas. Late in the 60s, moving from Alabama back to the DC area in Virginia, I brought southern boy bass knowledge to the Potomac. Locals were just discovering fish in this river. At my age, I thought bass were everywhere. It didn’t surprise me when I tossed a Mepp’s spinner and started reeling them in. This was not long after Clean Water legislation had done its part to clean up the Nation’s River that President Johnson had called a “NATIONAL DISGRACE.” The Potomac was becoming one of the country’s best bass fisheries.

Today Pan Am is gone, our food is fast, there’s a substitute for sugar, and we have become label conscious. Trips were taken in station wagons without seatbelts, not in minivans with airbags. Fishing still forges friendships. Living in and out of boxes, our hometown was where we unpacked. Our belongings were packed in boxes. Our experiences were carried in our memories.

Potomac River Bassing in JULY

Hollow frogs like Mann’s NEW Goliath on 60-pound GAMMA Torque Braid are perfect over matted grass. Also try toad style soft plastics with a Mustad Ultra Point Swimbait hook. Using a weighted hook will allow the bait to go faster and cast further!

In open areas without grass, try Lucky Craft Gunfish walkers and G-Splash poppers, perfect for clear and calm water with overcast skies! Walk the dog with the Gunfish and don’t stop when fish strike! They will come back. For poppers, pop and stop, varying retrieves until a cadence produces. Also try Mann’s Waker over cover.

Follow-up with weightless stickworms like Mann’s 5-inch HardNose Freefall worm on 10-pound test GAMMA Edge Fluorocarbon line for missed bites!

Mann’s Baby 1-Minus crankbaits, in craw and baitfish patterns will work over wood and grass. For line, 12-14 pound test Edge on a KVD Quantum cranking rod. Mann’s Reel N’ Shad is deadly this time of year.

Pitch Mizmo tubes on 3/0 Mustad Tube hooks on 14-pound Edge to docks and wood at higher tides, and then grass during every tidal phase. Use scents like garlic Jack’s Juice Bait Spray. Also try swimming jigs like Mann’s Stone Jigs with a HardNose Reel’ N Shad around cover.

Author Capt. Steve Chaconas is Potomac bass fishing guide & contributing writer for BoatU.S. (BoatUS.com) Potomac River reports: nationalbass.com. Book trips/purchase gift certificates: info@NationalBass.com.

Written by: Steve Chaconas

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