When my father passed in 1995, he didn’t leave me and my brother and sister and his grandchildren many material things, though for certain he left us a rich heritage.
One of the material things that he did leave was his tackle box. It was filled with tried and proven lures, including lures he had used in the 1960s on Ontario’s Rondeau Bay, with great success on leaping largemouth bass and charging pike.
As I prepared to leave for an August 2004 fishing vacation to Bayview Bliss Cabins on Rondeau, I rummaged through that box looking for lures that might bring me that same success.
I chose a Heddon’s River Runt, a Lazy Ike and three Bayou Boogies. These are lures that to my knowledge they don’t make anymore. Perhaps collectors’ items.
Like good wine, some old lures grow better with age.
I proved that on the evening of one of those August evenings when I reached into my box and pulled out a black Bayou Boogie. Fayne Robinson and I, drifting across the weeds, pushed by a steady breeze, had tried all the newest lures – spinnerbaits, plastic worms, surface lures – with little success.
I snapped on the black Bayou Boogie and made a long cast with the wind. I started reeling as soon as the lure hit the water. It’s a sinking lure, and I wanted to avoid contact with the weeds, which grew to within two feet of the surface.
I had made about five cranks on the reel handle when something nearly tore the rod from my hands. Instantly, the giant pike left the water, leaping high, forming his body in the shape of a U and shaking his head in an effort to dislodge the hook from the corner of his mouth.
He was stripping off line against the drag as the wind carried us past him. I tried unsuccessfully to tighten the drag a bit as I battled to keep him out of the weeds.
I was unsuccessful in that, too. He was 15 yards behind us when he burrowed down into the weeds and I couldn’t budge him. I kept a tight line as I started the 20-horse Mercury and backed up.
Once I was upwind of the fish, I could feel his steady pull. I waited for him to swim out, but he only dug in deeper. I couldn’t budge him.
Finally, fearing the rod would break, I covered my hand with a rag and took hold of the line and yanked on it. It snapped.
There went my fish, and my father’s Bayou Boogie. It seemed I could feel his presence, assuring me that I had done all I could do; that that was the lure’s intended use, not gathering dust in some tackle box.
Rondeau Bay is a shallow weed-filled bay, eight miles wide, with an inlet off Lake Erie, located at the village of Erieau, Ont., 70 miles east of Detroit. It harbors good populations of largemouth, bluegill and yellow-ringed perch.
To bring the bass out requires a different tactic from that of fishing lakes in southern Ohio and northeastern Kentucky, where anglers cast the shoreline. On Rondeau, you might find pockets of feeding bass in any area of the lake as the breeze moves your boat along. Sometimes you can drop anchor and cash in on these schooling fish.
Because of the underwater weeds, which grow to the surface in some areas, just under it in others, you’re limited in the amount of lures that can be used: Plastic worms rigged with the hook imbedded in the body and with no split-shot sinker to pick up weeds; spinnerbaits and Mepps spinners retrieved steadily just over the top of the weeds; chugging surface lures and floating, minnow-type lures that go just under the surface when retrieved.
My wife, Bonnie, and Fayne’s wife, Nancy, are fond of fishing for bluegill and perch. They used redworms and mealworms with a bobber attached to the line about three feet above the hook. A couple of split shot sinkers are clamped a foot above the hook to take the bait down.
Crossing the border
We had no hassle crossing from Detroit into Windsor on the 88-year-old Ambassador Bridge (toll at that time was $2.50 American, $4 Canadian).
Now the law requires each person to have a passport to cross from America into Canada.
On the way back, U.S. customs officials wanted birth certificates from each of us, plus an identification card with a photo.
For information on the camp, call 519-676-2238.
Reach G. Sam Piatt at [email protected] or 606-932-3619