By Larry Dablemont

A fisherman becomes set in his ways, and over the years develops a passion for his way of doing things.

My uncle thinks people who use spinning outfits and catch 12-inch bass should be examined by a doctor. Why, he says, would anyone be satisfied with a bent rod when the fish on the end of it doesn’t have a mouth big enough to stick your fist in?

I have become somewhat fixed in my ways too. I like to fish topwater lures so much that when I can catch a bass on the surface, I would just about pass up the chance to catch twice as many in the depths.

It was that way last week when my uncle and I took that old 22-foot johnboat I wrote about a few weeks ago, and motored it up the river tributary of a local lake all the way to flowing water, and then paddled it back down.

Part of the thrill was using an old boat made when I was just a little kid back home in the hills, listening to old-timers in the pool hall talk about catching smallmouth on jitterbugs.

But we were all alone and the river was calm and cool in the evening, and we talked about a big bass I caught there years ago. Just about that time, I cast a topwater lure into that shaded water around a pile of brush where there was just the hint of moving water, and caught another one.

I fought him, and he fought me, and in a short time he was getting his picture taken, a 19-inch largemouth that might have weighed five pounds if I hadn’t had the camera along. In the next hour I caught five or six more, on that same topwater lure, two of them 17 inches long.

That little 9.8 mercury motor, which is 40 years old, only used about two pints of gas getting up there, and my uncle who is twice its age, did one heck of a job of paddling that old boat back down the river and complaining about how it was too darn long.

I guess I’ll take it down to the Current River, where it spent its early days, and sell it to someone. Uncle Norten and I can’t afford two pints of gas every time we want to go fishing. And we have other boats which are shorter, if not much newer.

The fishing lure industry is bound to suffer because our family did not receive the $600 economic stimulus check which everyone was suppose to get from the U.S. Government. Each year I take all my tax material to a lady in town who is in the business of taking care of taxes for those of us who know too little about government forms and don’t want to go to jail because of it.

When she is finished with all the figures, I write a check and mail it to the IRS on April 15. It always hurts, coming at a time when you may have saved just enough over the course of the previous winter to pay what they want. Sometimes, I sell a lot of things in April I would just as soon keep.

Only recently I received a notice, through her, that we aren’t eligible for the check, even though she maintains we are. She says the government made a mistake, but since the IRS does not question itself, there isn’t much you can do about it. No one can convince them that they have goofed up this time, and I don’t intend to try.

That is fine with me, I am too happy about having such a good life to worry about $600. In fact I am very proud that I started out with less than a dollar when I went away to college at the age of 17 and never once received a single penny’s worth of help from the government.

I got to where I am today completely on my own, with lots of help from God. I like that independence, which most of the good down-to-earth Ozark country people I sprang from, and lived around, displayed. Oh yes, I knew plenty of people who wouldn’t work who took all the help the government would give them, and never did become happy because of it.

Most of the Ozark people I knew worked hard, and didn’t want any help because of their pride in themselves, and were satisfied and happy because of it.

My dad was a factory worker with two jobs and the government gave him nothing. He raised his family in times much harder than what we have today.

My grandfathers, proud and independent men, lived through times so difficult that they would laugh at today’s whiners who talk about economic problems. Theirs was a generation which would have, and did, sacrifice and save and ration, to teach a foreign nation that our country didn’t need anything but the backbone of its good, hardworking and independent people.

If we were enough like them, we would be using 25 percent less gasoline than we used last year and the price of a barrel of oil would be dropping. Instead, our oil consumption is down only two percent. Well, I can tell you, my oil consumption is down one heck of a lot more than that, and I don’t need any government money to stimulate my economy. I can darn well do it myself; I am proud to be a lot like my Grandpa Dablemont, and Grandpa McNew.

And next April, I will send the government another check, but it will be less than usual, because this time I will claim all the deductions I can, rather than only a portion of them. I was always ashamed to turn in the expenditures on fishing lures and shotgun shells. I may buy a new shotgun in September, since I had to sell one last April, and that will be a deduction this year, because I am an outdoor writer, and I use that type of gear in my occupation, going by their rules.

These hard times we are going through don’t seem so hard to those of us who knew the World War II generation. In the midst of these “economic difficulties” the television news-people keep telling us about, I understand there was a record number of people who went to the movies this past week, and the lake is just covered with big boats every weekend when folks from the city show up in unbelievable numbers.

We call these hard times because we are a spoiled generation which never knew much about what hard times were. Whiners ... you darned right we are, the whole darn bunch of us.

Our government became strong because of independent men who didn’t need any government checks. By gosh I am proud to be one of them. Should they figure out they made a mistake and send a check this way, I will be sending it back. I’d like to see that money go to people who really need it.

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