I promised to tell you a little something about Grandpa Bill this week and I’ll do that. But, before we get into that story, I want to say happy Mother’s Day to my wife, my mother, my sister and my grandmother. They’re the best. They make our family – and the stories you’ll hear over the next year – possible. Without them, the rest of us wouldn’t amount to a thing.
Now here’s the deal with my Grandpa Bill. He figured that if it wasn’t broke you didn’t need to fix it. And he figured that a Smithwick Devil’s Horse with a silver shiner finish wasn’t broke. So, he didn’t need to fix it. What I mean by all that is that a Devil’s Horse was all he fished with on Rodman back in the day. He threw it in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening.
He was so into them that he ordered 350 of the darn things from Bass Pro Shops one day, every bait exactly like all the others. (That’s considerably more than an Elite Series angler would order, in case you’re wondering.)
To be fair, he did tweak them a little, though. He’d tune the blades, sharpen them around the edges sometimes and maybe even bend the eye a little if it got out of whack. But it was always the same bait.
I can still remember Bobby, Arnie and I switching baits when we were out with him. Like a lot of anglers, we believed in the magic lure back in those days. But grandpa knew better. He’d throw his Horse out and then gently pull it back to the boat, blades barely turning. At the end of the day, he had more bass than the three of us combined. I can still remember him catching the biggest bass I’ve ever seen on one.
I forget exactly when it happened, or exactly where he was fishing on Rodman, but she was so big she bottomed out a set of scales that went to 18 pounds. I’m not going to tell you they were perfectly accurate. They were those old black, spring-loaded ones everybody carried years ago. But I’ll tell you what, that bass was bigger than any I’ve seen since. I’ve often wondered what she really weighed. It’d be a heck of a thing to find out that your grandpa turned back a world record, wouldn’t it?
When he wasn’t fishing with one, he’d give them away as gifts. Bobby, Arnie and I would get one for our birthday, for Christmas and if we got good grades on our report cards. Sometimes he’d just give us one. The Devil’s Horse was a Lane family tradition.
We still have some of them. All three of us occasionally fish with one but mostly they’re for old time’s sake. The memories are priceless. They’re a part of our past, just like they were a part of his present. Gosh, I miss him. I’d give anything if he’d been around to see my Classic win.