Hooked On Fishing

By E.J. Mashburn

My Dad, Earl “Friday” Mashburn, was a bass fisherman extraordinaire. He and his fishing buddies preferred Fontana Lake where they fished at least every other Saturday in addition to a week in June and October.

As a little boy, I could hardly wait until he got home to hear him describe, in great detail, the results. Generally, it was after dark when he got home so I would have to beg, and beg Mother to let me sty up. He would explain where on the lake they caught fish and what lures worked best at different times during the day. He would even tell us where he ate his favorite bologna and cheese sandwiches, which he always washed down with NEHI Strawberry Soda…his favorite.

When I got a little older, I would stand in a chair and shine the flashlight while he cleaned the fish. “My, oh my,” I would hate to know how many times he said, “Son, shine the light on the fish…not on my head or feet”. Did he ever have the patience of Job.

Often, when Daddy caught a really large bass, which he called “Golly Whoppers”, pictures would be taken. Yes…that is me in the picture pretending I’d caught it.

When the day finally came that Daddy and I were going fishing, we knocked down two or three large wasp nests from the chicken house. I sure was puzzled because Daddy had two tackle boxes full of all sizes, shapes, and colors of lures he called “plugs”. We went down to the south shore of Lake Junaluska under a huge oak tree.I had visions of catching a Large Mouth Bass that walked on top of the water attempting to escape as Daddy had so vividly talked about. Much to my surprise, Daddy put a wasp larvae on this tiny hook with a red and white bobber about four feet up from the hook. The open tackle box with all those plugs still had my attention.

Daddy squatted down to my level, explaining, “You have to be still and quiet and watch the float”. He flipped the line out about ten feet. The float settled down but nothing happened. Again, he explained, “You have to be quiet and concentrate”. Several minutes went by and nothing was said. I looked at Daddy and asked, “Should we throw it somewhere else?” He just pointed toward the float and, to my amazement, it was gone. He hooked the fish and handed the pole to me and said, ”Reel it in!” I reeled for dear life but the fish was going every which way but toward the bank. I was puzzled because the fish was not walking on water, like some of his tales. Finally, with a little help, we landed what I knew had to be a “Golly Whopper”. Instead, it was a medium sized bream. Was I ever disappointed!

I got over it quickly because when Daddy flipped the bait back in the water, the float disappeared immediately. We caught one fish after the other for two hours. I went to sleep that night one tired, happy little boy…hooked on fishing for life.

EJ Mashburn is the owner of Asheville Security Systems. He is a native of Haywood County. He has spent his whole life fishing and exploring the mountains of Western North Carolina. He is one of the best fly fishermen I’ve ever met.