Ken Cook won the 21st Bassmaster Classic. George Bush and Dan Quayle were in the White House. Metallica's "Enter Sandman" was on the radio. I graduated from college and cut off my sweet, long, rockstar hair, knowing I was going to have to start thinking about a real job. It was 1991. A pretty girl named Julie had most of my attention. I say most because I also have a very distinct memory of staring at another face. I remember looking deep into her giant buggy eyes, studying her oversized, cavernous, bright red mouth. In stark contrast to the delicate, curvy Julie, this one was stick-straight and hard as nails. The first time I had seen her she was lunging and sashaying across my TV screen in a seductive dance that only she could do.
"I'll bet the boys are gonna love you," I thought. "And the big girls aren't going to be able to leave you alone!"
Suddenly she disappeared in a violent, frothy spray as a giant largemouth bass swallowed her whole to end the commercial.
Actually, I have a very specific memory of the first fish I caught on that old, bullfrog colored Chug Bug, and Julie was there. We were just dating at the time so she was still trying to impress me and agreed to join me fishing the shore of a small local pond. I was never terribly smooth with the ladies, so it hadn't occurred to me that this may not exactly be the best plan for a date. In any case, there we were – the three of us – me, Julie and my new Chug Bug.
Having seen the TV commercial dozens of times and not really understanding much about fishing, my confidence in this untested lure was high. I remember making a long cast to the far outside edge of the thick weeds that lined the shore of the entire pond. I remember being unsure how I was even going to work this bait. Fortunately, it didn't matter because the second it touched the surface, a 17-inch largemouth blasted it! It was magic! I remember in that magical moment that Julie smiled and congratulated me.
In the years since, Julie has stuck with me and so has that lure. I've come a long way as an angler. I've spent thousands of hours on the water and thousands more studying and refining my approach. I've collected and tested more topwater lures than I can name. And all the while, that Chug Bug – that exact Chug Bug – has remained in heavy rotation.