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Gone Fishin' : General Butler State Park in Carrollton, Kentucky

Updated on July 26, 2012

Gone Fishin' : General Butler State Park in Carrollton, Kentucky

by Robb Hoff

July 26, 2012

We all have components of our psyche so engrained within us that we eventually come to recognize their power does not actually reside entirely within us.

Such it is for me with the Purple Worm.

Now the Purple Worm has been produced by various manufacturers over the course of its attachment to my psyche and has actually come in different colors beside purple.

But it has always been the Purple Worm because that's the one my Dad used. He taught me how to bass fish with the Purple Worm by the time I was eight years old and it was the lure he was using the last time we fished last year before he died.

As the unraveling of time would have it, the last time I fished with my Dad was at General Butler State Park, where I am taking my son tomorrow.

And the last fish I saw him catch was a nice 15-inch bass that day on his standby, the Purple Worm.

My son has yet to succumb to the madness that comes with fishing the Purple Worm. Actually it's more like a meditation than madness, but nothing exemplifies the old Steven Wright line better -- "There's a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore like an idiot" - than fishing with the Purple Worm.

There are variations for fishing with the Purple Worm but both my Dad's and my standard was the six-inch auger tail with an eighth-ounce bullet-weight worm sinker and a four-ought worm hook.

No telling how many largemouth bass my Dad and I caught with the Purple Worm but it had to be several hundreds if not over a thousand.

Butler Lake was never a lake we fished when we did fish heavily in Kentucky -- that was usually Bullock Pen State Lake in Crittenden, where I once caught a 21-inch, 5-pound, 9-ounce bass that nearly jerked the rod out of my hands when I pulled up the rod tip to move the Purple Worm that coaxed the big bass from its repose in darkness.

That was from a boat, though, and it's a different proposition to fish for bass with a Purple Worm from the banks.

My son and I did get our lines wet last week at Bulter for about an hour before the late morning afternoon heat had us ready to move on to cooler environs. But we were there long enough for me to lure a small 10-inch bass with the Purple Worm.

Unfortunately, I've yet to master the ability to balance the issues a boy has to deal with as he learns how to fish and simultaneously fish myself. While my son asked me for directions on how to deal with looped line knotted up in his spool, I didn't notice the young bass had taken the Purple Worm before I had even started my lift of the rod tip.

By the time I had instructed my son and realized there was a fish on my line swimmimg toward me, it was too late.

Not that I missed the fish, but , rather, it was too late to do anything other than hope for the best -- that somehow the large four-ought hook hadn't set in the gullet of the fish.

Unfortunately, the hook had, but not by much.

My son came down the bank to watch me try to back the hook out of a fold of the fish's throat where the barb caught. I tried to maneuver my hemostats to remove the hook without further injury to the fish. The small mouth of the fish, however, impeded my progress.

I had my son pull the Purple Worm from the shank of the hook. But when I removed the lock of the hemostats on the turn of the hook to reposition for another try, the fish gulped, sucking the whole bottom of the hook down deeper into its gullet.

It was too late and I knew it.

But I knew what to do because my Dad had taught me well.

I might not have saved the fish, but I had faith in the fish to save itself. Sometimes, that's all the faith that can be expected.

I clipped the line, leaving the hook in the throat of the bass with the hope that it hadn't lost too much blood and that its gastric capability could dissolve the metal of the hook.

Of course, this is an awful lot to ask but at least my son and I could watch the majestic little creature swim away together, apparently well enough to meet the challenges of its domain intact before it swam from our view forever.


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    • Robb Hoff profile image

      Robb Hoff 5 years ago from Cincinnati, Ohio

      I believe it might've been Bill Dance who convinced me that blue worms could entice hits when others couldn't because blue was the only color a bass could see below 10-foot depth! It might explain why purple is such a standby since there's definitely blue in purple.

    • doctordirt profile image

      doctordirt 5 years ago from Warsaw, KY

      My mom and dad always used purple worms. But I was a radical, I used blue worms because Bill Dance always said, "Son, when you're out of blue worms, you're out'ta worms."