When I was 13, I had a tackle box that awkwardly attached to the handle bars of my old 10-speed bike and my rod would break into two pieces, allowing it to stretch parallel to the handle grips. With the bike, the rod and the gear, I had glorious freedom.
But in East Texas, a bike didn’t get you very far when it came to fishing. There was a little creek at the bottom of the hill leading out of my neighborhood—it paralleled Highway 80 and it held some small bream. Another little creek flowed through a park not too far from the house, and I pulled some small catfish out of it now and then. But the real fishing hole—where the bass lived and the crappie grew fat—required some creative access. It was a small pond that sat behind an old abandoned mansion on the other side of the highway. The railroad tracks ran behind the property, and once the old house was abandoned, it became a haunt for tramps and travelers that the locals simplly called the Hobo Barn.
But there were lunkers in the pond that sat out back. My brothers and buddies and I all caught bass to three or four pounds—respectable fish for a small urban pond, and even more respectable for a bunch of kids who braved encounters with a less-than-savory element that, we were warned, would just as soon kidnap us and kill us as look at us. We all survived, of course, and even wandered through the old house on a dare one sultry July day.
Yep. It was creepy.
We had to reach the pond by way of a sneaky, poison ivy-lined trail into the woods that we pioneered. We’d ride our bikes up the hill along the blacktop that marked the property line and, when nobody was looking, we’d dive off onto the trail and be at the pond in mere minutes. Minutes later, were were casting Beetle Spin lures and plastic worms for bluegill and bass. We were fishing.
It was freedom.
The video above spurred some old memories of that freedom and how summer in Texas for 13-year-old fishermen was what you made of it. Here’s to kids and fishing. Here’s to big bass. Here’s to freedom.
— Chris Hunt