bait, bass, bass season, color, creek, cut, fiberglass replica, fishing, fly fishing, graduation gift, john boat, measurements, memories, photo, plastic worm, preserve, proof, Raymond Endicott, replica, secret, skin mount, spring and summer, taxidermist, trophy, Warm Fork, winter
By David A. Lohr
Taxidermist for Kosh Trading Post
When we think of fishing we normally think of the warmth of late spring and summer, but in fact fishing can be as much fun in the middle of the winter as in the warmer weather.
My favorite fishing was always fly fishing (top water), and in fact that is warm weather fishing, but I also loved having that big bass on the other end of a light line. Dad and I would almost always be on the creek on opening day of bass season (Memorial Day weekend) for the rivers and streams when I was a kid.
As time went on, the love of casting for those bass in the winter rubbed off on us as well. I can remember some of those cold January and February days in a boat on Warm Fork catching the limit of nice bass before the end of stream bass season the last day of February. I think in all reality the best bass fishing was that time of year and maybe the most fun (except the time we both went swimming on a 30 degree day, but that is a story for later).
When I was young, Warm Fork was one of the best bass streams in the area, until the bridge at Shelby Town (just north of the Arkansas line) was replaced in the early ’80’s. Until then bass as well as other fish came freely into Warm Fork as well as all of the contributing branches year ’round (not just during high water as today), and there were fish everywhere.
We had a neighbor named Sam (who I never got to know well) and a close friend of his named Raymond that I honestly believed fish almost every day year ’round. These two gentlemen seemed to have learned the secrets of fish. Raymond had a daughter who was a classmate of my sister, so I got to know him much better and tried to unravel his secret of success at every turn. For a high school graduation gift Raymond gave me a plastic fishing worm that he had strung up himself, and in it was that secret. The unique way he strung them up gave them the magic movements that bass couldn’t resist. Every time I took that bait out, I caught fish; boy, did I catch fish. I will never forget the disappointment the day that Dad told me that he had borrowed that bait, which was okay, right up until he told me of the giant bass that broke the line, taking that bait with it. I never was able to match the magic twist that bait had, nor was I ever able to have the same success with any other bait.
For those who are older than any of us want to admit, I have attached a picture of the man who earned my respect as a fisherman forever as well as a picture of his old car that carried his old john boat every day (that it wasn’t in the river). I wonder how many of my readers can remember that old boat and car or Mr. Raymond Endicott.
For those who have the same love of fishing that Raymond and Sam had, you may decide that a mount of one of your fish would be the perfect trophy for your den or “man cave.” (And ladies, you probably caught the biggest fish if truth were known.) Here are some tips on how you will want to preserve your trophy for your taxidermist. First, many species of fish will vary in color depending on time of year, water temperature, etc. So if you have one of those fancy phones that take photos, snap one as soon as you can after you take the fish out of the water. The reason for this is that the color of your mount has a lot to do with a magic substance called paint, and that will be of great help to your taxidermist.
There are two ways to get a mount, first being a skin mount where your taxidermist uses the skin of the fish for the mount like he or she would a deer head. With the skin mount it is very important that you do not make any cuts in the fish; be very careful to protect the scales. The incision your taxidermist makes will be down the back side of the fish (not down the belly as that is very hard to hide). Unless you get this specimen to the taxidermist very very quickly, you won’t be eating this one. When you get the fish home, water it down good, then take some old newspaper and soak it and wrap the fish, place in plastic bag and freeze until you get him to the taxidermist.
The other type of mount is a fiberglass replica. With this one you take a couple measurements (get with your taxidermist and he will show you where to measure) and a picture and throw him back and start casting very quickly in hopes he has a very short memory. This type of mounts is getting more popular as you can catch the same trophy over and over again.
I often wonder if anybody ever stretches those measurements any (of course not as no fisherman would ever lie about their catch), and with a mount they have proof, right. I do mount fish but chose to specialize in deer heads, but as I read that last sentence again I am thinking that may change.
The one disadvantage to the second type mount is that the glass replicas are fairly expensive, but it does give you the chance to catch another trophy without having to wait for another to grow up.
I hope you enjoy fishing as much as these gentlemen did, and be sure and take a youngster along and make the kinds of memories that I have fishing with my dad as these are the memories that last a lifetime. That graduation gift was over 40 years ago.