If you have ever done any still-fishing you likely have a rod holder or three. In addition, if you have been serious about fishing that way, you might even have some sort of bite indicator, some audio alarm to get you outta your lawn chair and over to your rod.
Back in the day, the Bauer clan took rod holders and bite indicators to a whole ‘nother level.
At least once a summer, Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters would convene on the shores of Lake McConaughy for feasting, fun, and of course, fishing. Campers would be parked, picnic tables and lawn chairs deployed, food spread and horseshoe stakes planted. As soon as camp was set, rods would be strung, tackle tied, hooks baited, and lines cast. Literally dozens of fishing rods in rod holders would extend down yards of shoreline. Hours would be spent sitting, talking, eating, enjoying each others company, waiting for bites, oh, and most of all, laughing.
Many of those rods would have some sort of bell attached. It was quickly learned that commercially-available bells made for attachment to fishing rods were pretty much deficient–they did not detect bites easy enough nor were they alarming enough. In typical Bauer fashion, a dozen homemade versions were invented and clipped to rods. Much of the laughing happened when the bell on one rod or another started ringing and no one knew quite for sure who’s rod it was or where? The ensuing fire drill would involve several bodies in motion, hollering, sand-flying, maybe a collision or two, and if everything turned out well, a fish! Man, what I wouldn’t give to time-machine back to those fishing trips!
My Grandpa was one of the main characters to take things to a whole ‘nother level; he and his brother Orville always had something up their sleeves . With everyone still-fishing from shore, it was believed that the farther a person could cast a bait, the more fish they would catch. In many cases that was true.
Grandpa thought way outside the box with his still-fishing gear and had some surf-fishing tackle that was way beyond what could be purchased in any Nebraska tackle shop. Many of us would gather around as Grandpa, or “Ot” as most the rest of the family called him, would bait up, wind up, and cast it seemed almost as far as we could see. Then his over-sized rod was placed in an over-sized rod holder and of course his strike indicator was over-sized too. . . .
Before my time, Grandpa had dairy cattle. I am told he got outta the dairy cattle business and into beef cattle because well, with dairy cattle they were tethered down to chores on the home place, ALL the time. Not that beef cattle did not require a lot of work, but with beef cattle there were at least some times when the chores were done, the cattle and wells checked, the hay put-up, the neighbors enlisted to watch the place for a few days, and a break could be taken. Grandma and Grandpa loved to get away for a camping and fishing trip whenever they could.
I do not know if Grandpa’s dairy cattle had cowbells. All I know is Grandpa had at least one cowbell and you know where it ended up–clipped onto his over-sized rod in its over-sized rod holder.
Whenever that cowbell started clanging everyone knew who had a bite–My Grandpa, “Ot”.
In my mind, Grandpa always caught the most fish, and often the biggest. Oh sure, there was the occasional boat that strayed too close and got caught as well. I know this much, I loved the sound of that cowbell, and Grandpa’s laugh. I can still close my eyes and hear both of them, smile when I think of the rush of activity the bell prompted and Grandpa laughing at the fish he’d caught.
To this day I need more cowbell.