Even Alligators by Jon Bryan
(Part one of a very unusual story about a very unusual type of fishing)
Slowly tapping the sixteen foot, Calcutta, cane pole tip on the surface, the bait, two pork rinds, attached to two hooks, seemed to slide and jump, just under water, beside the dead tree. An explosion on the surface, bigger than a “blow up”, and the big strike bent the long pole over half way down into the water. The pole sizzled through the water as the fish ran in a wide circle around the aluminum skiff.
Unceremoniously, hand over hand, I brought the big bass to the surface, jerked it into the skiff, smiled and held it up for Buck to see. He said, returning my smile, “Boy, you handled the jigger pole just right!” The bass was over six pounds and a personal best for my attempts at jigging.
An eight pound bass was the best that I ever witnessed him catching. Buck said that his most exciting jigging event was in South Carolina when he caught an alligator, and in his words, “I quickly let go of the pole and let the ‘gator worry about it.”
He had learned this unique, fishing technique, jigging, and the manufacture of the equipment from, of all things, an old Indian (Native American type). This same old Indian made a poultice to cure Buck’s numerous sore throats, Buck drank the potion and passed out from the taste and the “fire” in the mix, but after he awoke, he never had a sore throat again. It probably just ate out his tonsils!
Before WW II, Buck, my former father-in-law, lived in South Carolina, across the Cooper River from Charleston. Buck was a wild thing then, a Klansman, a former professional boxer, a tailor and hunting and fishing guide. He once guided Nash Buckingham, maybe the best bob white, quail shot ever, on a duck and goose hunt on Currituck Sound, in North Carolina.
Buck perfected his jigging techniques in the numerous ponds and irrigation ditches in the South Carolina lowlands. He was an expert with a cane pole, jigging for fish, primarily for bass, but anything in fresh water, even alligators, will hit a jigged lure. The secret that he passed on to me was in the manufacture and preparation of the cane pole, hooks and pork rind baits. I’ll pass on the secrets next issue.