Lost & Found

Lost & Found
Some of the author's collection of hot lures from days gone by. Martin says they'll all still work as good as ever; just add new hooks and chunk 'em!
It had seen better days. The teeth marks that covered the lure told of many encounters with speckled trout and the almost rusted through hooks meant that it had been in the saltwater for quite a while. A little red paint had been added to the head of this lure but it had all but faded away. Monofilament was broken off just above the knot that was still tied to the lure’s eye. That meant that the knot didn’t fail but that something had cut the leader that caused the loss of the lure and the fish that had mistaken the piece of plastic for a mullet. In fact, I could remember the day that I lost this particular lure not 50 yards from where I found it almost a year earlier. I had wondered many times if my knot had failed or if the line had been cut.

The Cotton Cordell Jointed Red Fin, which was also known as a “Broken Back”, was one of my favorite lures years ago and I used them with great success while fishing for both redfish and trout. I’ll never know why we stop using lures that never stopped producing for us in favor for the latest and greatest lures that come out every year, but we do.

The day that I lost the lure was June 8th, 1981 and I was fishing with my friend Robert Glenn. We had made the run over to the south shoreline of West Matagorda Bay from Palacios in my Boston Whaler and found the waters around Cotton’s Bayou full of nervous bait and feeding fish. Before I had gathered my gear and gotten into the water, Robert had hooked up on a nice redfish using his favorite copper spoon. As he fought the fish, I made my way towards him casting as I went and hooked up with a decent trout out in a little deeper water. That morning was one of those that you remember forever and not just because there were a lot of fish caught, but because there were a few fish that were lost.

Robert and I had crossed the entrance into Cotton’s with he on the east end and I on the west. We were casting as we waded in and the bottom where I was wading was heavy with grass. I was sliding my feet as I moved and all of a sudden I slid my foot onto something that literally lifted me up off of my feet and tossed me backwards into the water. Robert on the other side of the cut had no idea what was going on but he heard me yell and saw me going backwards into the water and at the same time saw an enormous wake headed right towards him. He told me that the ray was a good five-feet across and I’m glad that it just gave me a good dunking and didn’t skewer me with its barb.

That little incident shook me up a little and I thought back to a number of years earlier, not far from that place when I had stepped out of the boat and right onto a ray that was not as forgiving. I moved to deeper water and left Robert to wade the boggy slough.

As I moved out of Cotton’s and crossed the first gut I cast the black and gold “Broken Back” parallel to the shoreline and into a pod of mullet that caused bait to fly out of the water. The fish hit the lure almost before I could lock the handle on my reel. It was a really nice trout and it was much bigger than what we had been catching that day. The big fish tore out and across the second bar then pulled back towards the shoreline, running along the gut and coming back towards me. The only shell that I know of in that area was just at the mouth of the cut and that was where I lost the fish.

It was one of those, “Huh?” moments. We’ve all had them; you all know what I’m talking about. One moment you have the fish hooked and all is well and then there is simply…nothing. It leaves you feeling a little empty inside as you reel in your line that is no longer attached to a lure or a fish and for me it signaled a good time for a break.

As I walked back to the boat I could see Robert back in the bayou, his fishing rod bent to the power of another redfish and for a second I thought about heading back in there to join him, but the memory of the large ray made the cold drinks in the boat win out over catching more reds.

When Robert got back to the boat I told him about the big trout and I told him about the lure. He had his limit of reds and a few really nice trout and a bonus flounder for his Mother. We laughed about the ray, talked about the ones that got away and then we headed back to Palacios.

The following March found me on the same shoreline in a little different weather. Waders were necessary that day but the weather was beautiful and we were between cold fronts. I had waded up to the shoreline to fix a broken strap on my waders when I saw the lure lying on the sand. I knew it was my lure before I bent over to pick it up and the first thing I did was check to see if my knot was still tied.

My log entry for that day reads: Caught some fish today at Cotton’s but I found the lure I lost last year.

Later I changed the hooks out on the lure and used it a few times, but each time I did, I worried that I wouldn’t be so lucky to find it again if I lost it so I retired it to my desk.

I look at it now and then when I am at my desk and I remember the day that I lost the lure, I remember the day that I found the lure and I remember fishing with my friend.

Be safe,