It also meant time for a visit from my Uncle Mayhu. He lived in Newport News, Virginia and always came for a two week visit since most of his family lived in McDuffie County where I grew up. I loved his visits since he loved fishing as much as I did.
We fished many local ponds, usually with another of my uncles, Adron, and it was a learning experience as well as a joy to go fishing with them. We usually cast for bass and used up-to-date equipment. My Mitchell 300 reel was state of the art back then and their bait casting reels, with no free spool, no line guide and a terrible drag system was the best on the market.
We also had some of the newfangled rubber worms, Cream worms that came three to the pack and you could get either red or black, or buy them singly rigged with a three hook harness and a spinner up front. We caught countless bass on them and hooked, but usually lost, some huge ones.
I have one vivid memory of Uncle Mayhu fishing with a red Crème worm dangling from his ear. I had made a mistake and hooked his ear on a back cast. We were very close together in the little boat and two of the three hooks embedded in his ear. Rather than take fishing time to try to get them out, he told Uncle Adron to cut the line. I tied on another bait and we kept fishing. I learned to be very careful after that!
Hula Poppers for topwater fishing were the standard as were Hawaiian Wiggler in-line spinners for fishing beneath the surface. We each had one rod, so every bait we fished was thrown on the same rigs. They always had braided line on their bait casting reels but mine was spooled with monofilament, another very new product on the fishing market.
Uncle Adron was with us on most of those trips. He owned a small store near Thomson and was the youngest of the brothers. They had one sister, my mother. She loved fishing, too, but never went on those trips. Her thing was fishing for bream and catfish with a cane pole and thought casting for bass was a waste of time.
My introduction to deer hunting was with Uncle Adron, too. He killed many deer with a bow and arrow before it got so popular and also hunted with guns. He was the best woodsman I ever knew and had the ability to sneak through the woods without making a sound, even getting close enough to deer to shoot them with his bow.
He could find the best places for a stand and knew the ways of all wildlife. Fishing was a passion and his ability to find bass was as good as his knack for finding deer. He could scull a Jon boat without making a ripple in the water and that helped sneak up on wary bass.
Uncle J.D. didn’t fish but did love bird hunting, and always had a dove field on his farm. I shot my first dove on his field with my single shot .410 and he gave me an old Army gas mask bag for my hunting supplies. I still carry it, over 50 years later, when I go deer hunting!
There was a great pond on his farm and he did like to watch us kids and his sister fish. One day he asked me why I liked to fish and I responded that I liked the fight. He said "see that Billy Goat over there? Tie your line to him and he will give you a better fight than any fish you will ever hook!"
Uncle Roger hunted with us some but did little fishing that I remember. He did work for a distribution company that had lots of outdoor supplies and every Christmas I got a block of .22 bullets through his company. That was a wonderful gift, 500 rounds of long rifle ammo that I went through way too fast.
Growing up with an extended family like that was wonderful. I was lucky to have uncles like them to teach me. I wish every kid could have such good luck!
Enjoy the rest of your summer with your family.