Wednesday, June 2, 2021



I often listened to old timers who fished the river talk about various ways to tempt big bass, or to catch a limit of goggle-eye.  The river was so much different then, so clear and clean.  The big deep holes, now most of them filling in with silt and gravel, and becoming slick-bottomed with algae and slime, had flathead catfish that commonly weighed from 30 to 40 pounds. 


There were huge soft-shelled turtles, hellbenders nearly two feet long, and occasionally an eel.  You could gig red-horse suckers on occasion that exceeded ten pounds, and the river was full of pan-sized green sunfish that would make a great meal when you were camping on a gravel bar and had an iron skillet with you.


I remember hearing about a method of fishing that worked in any clear, deep creek or river.  Old Bill Stalder and Jim Splechter talked about it, and I never knew for sure if it really worked. 


They said that when they were younger they would take a glass gallon jar, fill it with big shiner minnows, at least a dozen or so, then tie a heavy string around the neck, make a dozen holes in the lid and close the jar with it, letting it sink in a deep hole somewhere below a shoal. 


They said they would put a two or three treble hooks on the jar, tied well with the same kind of trotline string, and that big old bass, or catfish or goggle-eye, would be attracted to those minnow, flashing and struggling in that jar.  The jar even magnified their size, and it drove fish crazy, seeing them like that and not being able to get them. 


Ol’ Bill and Ol’ Jim both swore that you could fish alongside that jar and catch fish that were attracted to the shiners inside, and whipped into a feeding frenzy by their frustration. They said that sometimes, big fish would just grab one of those hooks on the jar and you could occasionally haul one in like that. It didn’t sound like something a fisherman ought to do, so I never tried it, though I tried most everything else back when I was a kid.

Then I was really surprised, while looking through my collection of old outdoor magazines, to find an article about that same kind of tactic in a 1940 publication, entitled ‘bumble-jugging’. It was written by a fishermen who claimed he came across two boys who had filled a big jar with bees, and as he watched they weighted it with a big rock, sunk it in the creek with the lid sealed, and began to catch fish right and left with bobbers and minnows fished around the jug filled with buzzing bees.


He explained how the boys got the bees in the jar, and claimed that in time a huge walleye grabbed a hook on the jar.  They landed it, but broke the jar on a rock beside them, and they got stung in the process. 


If there are any readers out there who ever actually seen, or tried, the jar-fishing that Ol’ Bill so adamantly insisted was a bona-fide method of fishing, I would certainly like to hear from you. But I can’t see it working with bees. At any rate I am thinking of running that whole bee-fishing story from the ‘40’s in one of my upcoming outdoor magazines.


I know that no one is going to believe this, but I know how anyone who is young and strong can spend his time outdoors, with no boss, completely on his own, and make a small fortune.  This is no joke.  I will write about this unbelievable opportunity in the summer issue of my magazine, The Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal.  I am not young enough or strong enough to do it, and I have a good outdoor occupation already, but this is a way for a pair of young men to make around 100 thousand dollars a year, working outdoors. You won’t believe it, but it is all there for anyone who wants to work, and it is all above board and legal.


I am hoping my July 5 fish fry here on Lightnin’ Ridge will be a success, but if the rains continue as they have all through May, we might have to postpone it.  If you would like to attend, or find out if it is going to be postponed, please call my office, 417-777-5227.  We need to have an estimate of how much fish to have ready to fry.  Information about the daylong get-together can be found on my blogpot…


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