Pro Tips: May 2009

Pro Tips: May 2009
Great fishing memories; Cliff and CR Webb, Jay Ray and Jay Watkins when the boys won the Speedy Stop Rockport Bash. Cliff and I were beaming with pride.
At 105 years of age my grandmother, Bertha Prothro, closed her eyes one night last week and awoke in heaven with all those in her family that preceded her in death. What a glorious homecoming it must have been on Heaven's shore.

I was not a very good grandson in her last years and I want to be honest about that. I hated the place she was at and the state she was in. My article this month is a tribute to her and all the things that she and my grandfather taught me while taking me fishing.

She wore a straw hat with a ribbon that tied under the chin and always took her seat in the middle of the 14-foot john boat powered by a 12-hp Johnson Seahorse outboard in the middle of Lake O' the Pines. To this day I can still see her as she watched the quill cork at the end of the long cane pole my grandfather had rigged for her.

"Bertha, just lift the pole when the cork goes under," he would say. She would look at me with a raised brow. We both knew who almost always caught the most fish.

If you have never held a cane pole and watched as that small quill cork rights itself and disappears, you have never experienced fishing in one of its most simple and satisfying forms. I received my introduction with my mother's mom and dad, first in Taylor's Bayou near Port Arthur. Soon after, my grandparents retired and moved to Ore City on Lake O' the Pines.

My reason for this article is simple; fishing inspired me to do mostly right in my younger years. My dad used it while I was growing up in Rockport. Because of fishing, I have memories that are truly priceless. My grandparents and parents used the sport to get me to do whatever it was that they desired, be it good grades, cleaning my room or mowing the lawn.

In the summer months I would spend a few weeks at my grandparent's house in East Texas. Fishing was the whole reason for going but, there were always a few chores that went along with it. No free rides around the Prothro house. If not some sort of yard work, there was always work to be done in the garden. If as a youngster you never had a roto-tiller try to pull you through the fence as you dug both heels into the red sandy soil, you missed a major rush.

They had the best garden; potatoes, sweet corn, peas of all kinds, squash, cucumbers and egg plants. Of course there were tons of tomatoes and okra and even a pear tree. Cantaloupe and watermelons were also there to be picked. I can still see her bent over picking tomatoes, squash and okra. She put them in her apron as she picked.

I very seldom saw the woman resting except during a bout with the daily headaches she had nearly all of her adult life. It must have been miserable in that heat when a bad one came along. Donning a damp washcloth, she would lay down for an hour at the most, then it was back to the kitchen or other household chores.

The house had no air conditioning, just fans and a water cooler system. I remember watching the black and white television while we snapped beans. I also remember sleeping with the windows open and being able to smell the pine trees and the freshly oiled red dirt roads. At night I could hear the sounds of the insects around the garden. Chasing lightning bugs was big fun. We would hold them in our cupped hands watching the green lights around their eyes light up and listen to them click. I would fall asleep watching them out the window of the bedroom where I stayed during my visits.

So the question this month is: "What have you learned while fishing"?

First of all I have learned there is nothing more important than family. Renee' woke me up to this without even knowing it. Renee' supports what I do because she loves me and for no other reason. I support my sons, Jay Ray and Ryan, in their fishing ventures because I love them and want them to be happy.

Fishing has been a wonderful tool for those in my family, a tool that has allowed grand parents, parents and children to spend time together and to actually communicate. You see, the learning and loving all started due to wanting to go fishing.

In my opening paragraph I related memories of my grandparents. Without the allure of fishing, I seriously doubt that I would have been willing to spend so much time with them. I would not have received so many valuable lessons or so much love. The memories of my grandmother go way beyond the time we spent fishing, and what greater gift could have been given?

I can't remember the exact number of bluegills, goggle-eyes and crappie but, I do remember her and everything about her. I trust that my own family will not only remember the fishing trips we have enjoyed but also the lessons learned while fishing and during the preparation for those days on the water.

So the next time you have the chance to take your family fishing remember the memories are not only going to be of the fish but of all the other things that go with it. A wonderful memory is the best gift of all, it never stops giving.

May your fishing always be catching.