MORE LUCK THAN SENSE
It could only happen to Andy Wright.I picked up the phone and even
before I could say “hello”, Andy was begging for a short trip on the
river.“Have you got even an hour open this afternoon,” he pleaded.“I am
headed to a job in Alabama and I would love to bounce a Hoginar off the
bottom one more time.”
A growing number of fishermen fish the bladed bait all year long, but
outside of throwing it at schooling redfish, I reserve the deadly little
bait for deep jigging in the bayous and the river from late October to
early March.That fact is not lost on Andy!
He was living in Port Arthur in the late 70’s when James Chargois was
kind enough to not only introduce us to the bait, but show us where and
how to fish it as well.He fished it deeper than anyone else at the time
and for that reason alone, seldom had to worry about anyone else fishing
his better spots.
Aside from one community hole that was too close to the launch to hide
and consistently drew a crowd when the stripers showed up, we considered
anything he had shown us to be off-limits.There was more than enough
water left for Andy and me to find our own fish once James had tutored us!
When the striper bite, now nearly non-existent, exploded he was one of
the first local anglers to catch them virtually any time he wanted.Not
unlike the redfish he targeted, these hard pulling game fish favored
cruising the same deep haunts.They, too, could not resist the tiny
bladed lure slowly bounded off the bottom.
The list of the best at fishing this lure was short at the time and
virtually every one of them fished their own stretch of the river or the
Intracoastal.Because it was all but a guarantee that you were going to
lose several every trip, those same individuals ordered the components
and built their own.
They also had their own ideas about improving a lure that was very basic
in its stock form.The models hanging on tackle shop pegboard were very
simply a fish shaped piece of metal, with a weighted nose and two treble
The changes usually included two new hooks that were significantly
stronger and a wider variety of colors of reflective tape adorning the
sides of the lures.Some anglers, myself included, opted for only a
single rear hook.Much to our surprise, James would often remove the
reflective tape and simply color the sides black.
He also fished the lure more effectively because he developed not only a
technique, but a tool for retrieving snagged lures.This was pre-braided
line and most snagged lures could not be saved by simply tugging on the
monofilament line.If the flimsy stock hooks didn’t give way, the lure
Braided line is an ally, but because they will seemingly swim on their
own to hang up on the nearest ghost crab trap or piece of sunken debris,
hundreds of pounds of Hoginars now lie on or near the bottom of the more
productive fishing holes.
Finally….back to Andy and his uncanny good fortune.We made that quick
run and an outgoing tide that was not supposed to start until much later
yielded four slot reds and one oversized fish.Just before quitting time,
he hung his Hoginar up and after a few futile tugs I urged him to break
off and call it a day.
“Since we are quitting anyway, let me try a little longer to save your
lure,” he asked. I moved us upstream with the troll motor and he
excitedly announced, “It’s moving……I think I caught us an outboard motor!”
With his luck I would not have been surprised.As the slime covered
object neared the surface, however, I saw the broken crap trap float
line and grabbed it to keep him from breaking my rod. “Don’t put that
nasty thing in the boat I warned him,” just before I heard the
unmistakable thud of the wire trap bouncing off the floor.
“I don’t think this spot is a secret,” he yelled as I stepped down off
the front deck to assess how much mud and algae was now on the floor of
the boat. There was indeed a pile of black gunk, but lodged in the
twisted wire were several rusty jig heads, two spoons and thirteen Hoginars.
Andy graciously offered me the jig heads before lowering the trap back
over the side.“Why did you do that,” I asked.“The boat was already a
mess and we could have removed the trap.”
“Now you know where to get a few more Hoginars if you ever run out,” he
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!