Around these parts, winter is regarded with the same level of disdain as vegetarians, PETA and the Internal Revenue Service. But spring had finally sprung in Swamp Gas Corners, and every bassin' man for miles around was eagerly anticipating the biggest tournament of the season: the Lake Flatus Spring Open, a huge event that paid out $10,000 to the winning team! Everyone except me 'n' Harry, that is.
"I think we stepped in over our heads this time," I sighed as I sipped a brew at Zonker's Tavern. "Lake Flatus ain't shallow 'n' stumpy like Belly Button Bayou, where we usually fish. It's deep and clear with a bottom as smooth as a baby's backside! Granted, we've caught us a few big smalljaws from deep lakes like Snail Hollow up in Tennessee, but Lake Flatus is a largemouth lake, and we ain't got a clue how to catch largemouths in gin-clear water!"
"You're right," Harry replied glumly. "We're in danger of bein' outsmarted by guys what's fished barren lakes like this one a lot more than we has! But with Lake Flatus bein' off limits the week before the Spring Open, and us havin' no International Web to turn to for information, how is we gonna figure out what to do?"
"I know how!" I brightened. "You got every back issue of Bassmaster stacked up in your basement, right? Then let's start thumbin' through 'em and find us some professional pointers for fishin' barren lakes in springtime!"
We rushed back to Harry's house and commenced to leafin' through his stacks of old Bassmasters. "Man, you could make a fortune sellin' this collection on eBay!" I whistled. "If you had a computer, knew what eBay was, and was hooked up to the International Web, that is!"
Harry pointed to a picture from a 1971 issue. "Check out how goofy bass fishermen looked back then with their bright blue BASS jumpsuits!" he chuckled.
"Watch it, Bozo!" I replied. "I'm still wearin' mine, although I admit it's a tight fit!"
Harry turned the page and said excitedly, "Wait a minute here's exactly the kind of inside information we're lookin' for! It's an article about how bass pros catch lunker largemouths from clear lakes in spring usin' somethin' called suspendin' jerkbaits!"
"I thought a jerkbait was any lure YOU happened to be usin'!" I guffawed.
"Very funny," Harry grumbled. "Seriously, it says here they take a floatin' minner plug, drill it full of holes 'n' add lead weights to it until it suspends in the water! Seems weird, but it must work like gangbusters in clear lakes come early spring just check out the great ol' big 'uns in these pictures!"
"Sounds like way too much foolin' to me," I said skeptically. "But if Bassmaster says it works, it must be so!"
Unfortunately our tackleboxes was lacking in floatin' minner plugs, so down to Swill-Mart we went. "Shoot, these here floatin' minners cost $12 apiece!" I gasped. "And we're gonna need a dozen!"
"A small price to pay if they win us ten grand!" Harry figured. "C'mon, let's buy 'em and head back to my place so we can start drillin' 'n' fillin'!"
Ten minutes later Harry was breakin' out his trusty electric drill the one with the rusty chuck and frayed cord. "You do the honors," I insisted. "I don't have it in me to drill holes in a $12 lure!"
"First we'll need a good work surface," Harry said, not finding anything suitable in the basement. "I know! There's an old table in the dining room that Maybelline just inherited from her dead granny!" So upstairs we went, drill and jerkbaits in hand.
"Be careful, Harry!" I urged as he plopped the first plug down on the table and prepared to drill.
"Careful, schmareful!" he chided. "You'd think I'd never used power tools before! Stand back, Charlie! I's fixin' to let 'er rip!" He hit the switch and ZAPPPPPPP!!! lit up like a Christmas tree as half a zillion volts of electricity surged through his body before I managed to pull the plug!
"Whoa, now that'll make yer lips buzz!" Harry sputtered, his clothes smokin' and his eyeballs spinnin'! He wrapped some duct tape around the exposed wires in the drill's cord, plugged 'er in again and commenced to drilling holes through the bait's body, just like the Bassmaster article instructed. When all twelve lures had been drilled, he announced, "Okay, now we gotta pack all the holes with lead!"
"So we're gonna melt down a bunch of worm sinkers, right?" I asked.
"Heck no!" Harry snapped. "After forkin' over $144 plus tax already on this project, I sure don't wanna have to go out and spend more money replenishing my sinker supply!"
"Then what else is made of lead around here that we could use?" I wondered. "Wait, I know how 'bout them ol' buffalo gun bullets that your Uncle Barney gave you when you was a boy?"
"Hey, I like that idea, and Uncle Barney would, too he was quite the outdoorsman, y'know!" Harry grinned. He dug through a closet and extracted a cigar box full of the vintage bullets.
"The $64,000 question is, how is we gonna get the lead bullet part out of these here cartridges without shootin' ourselves?" I wondered, examining one of the dangerous-lookin' 50-calibur shells.
"Heck, these bullets couldn't possibly be 'live' they're almost a century old!" Harry said confidently. To prove his point, he plunked a cartridge down on the edge of the dining room table, gripped it with pliers and commenced to cuttin' it in half with a hacksaw!
KA-BLOOEY!! BE-YOWWWW!! KE-RASSSHHHH!! We ducked under the table as the cartridge exploded and the bullet ricocheted around the dining room, finally shatterin' the glass chandelier overhead! "Um, I reckon we better start meltin' down them sinkers after all," Harry mumbled.
Two hours later we'd melted the sinkers and poured the hot lead into the jerkbaits. Finally they was ready for testing! Harry filled up his bathtub and dropped the plugs in one by one. Unfortunately they all sank to the bottom like stones. "Rats!" he grumbled. "Looks like we're gonna have to start all over!"
"Eeeeekkkk!" a woman screamed. It was Harry's ol' lady, Maybelline, back earlier than expected from her garden club meeting! "What have you done to Granny's antique table?!?"
I followed Harry into the dining room, where Maybelline was gazing in shock at the dozens of drill holes and saw marks on the tabletop not to mention the bullet holes in the walls, the shattered chandelier and the burned carpet where melted lead had dripped on it.
"Honey, I can explain!" Harry said sheepishly. "We was trying to customize some fishin' lures so we could use 'em to win $10,000 in this Saturday's bass tournament!"
"Ten thousand dollars, huh? That wouldn't even begin to replace Granny's genuine Chippendale table! I had it appraised this morning for 75 thousand dollars!"
"Do you think your head will be healed up by Saturday so we can fish that tournament?" I asked Harry. He was recuperating from a severe concussion he'd received when Maybelline whacked him upside the head with her cast iron skillet.
"I doubt it," he groaned. "It's already Thursday and I'm still seein' double!"
"By the way, wanna hear somethin' really funny?" I brightened. "It turns out you don't have to go through all that rigmarole anymore to make a jerkbait suspend! Now they sell 'em with the perfect amount of weight installed right at the factory! I seen a big display of the suspendin' models at Swill-Mart last night! To think we could have saved all that money and hassle, Maybelline would still have her $75,000 table, and you could have avoided a concussion if we'd only known! Ain't that a hoot?"