Black Bass in Florida James Heddon Janette Hawley
In the Black Bass Florida James Heddon Janette Hawley article from 1904 printing of Angling Stories we get this great article from James Heddon, I think. The book is a compilation of Angling stories from other Magazines, such as Sports Afield. We see in the article penned by James Heddon describe his meeting a fish slayer, angler of poise Mrs. Janette Hawley on a trip to Mohawk Florida. The reason I say may have been written is, we see the author use “Billy Bass” which was a pen name for Will Heddon, and we also see him introduce a person to whom hes never met, Mrs. Janette Hawley. Notice the name spelling difference, as Mrs. Jeantte Hawley is the pen name for Will’s wife Laura, who used the Janette Hawley name as a Pen name as well a year later in 1905. It may just be an accident or different spelling. Just strikes me as odd. We also see them use it on “The Mohawk Casting and trolling Bait” in 1905 as well on the box labels.
Could this be the introduction to the Pen name by James Heddon for Laura to use in later fishing articles as she became more prevalent in the Heddon Company? Could this bee Will writing under his dads name? Or, I ask, could this really have been the person who inspired the fictitious character? I don’t pretend to know early Heddon history I just put forth what I came across in the Black Bass in Florida James Heddon Jaenette Hawley article and Ill let you or the Heddon experts decide.
Black Bass in Florida James Heddon Janette Hawley
DEAR SPORTS AFIELD; Since last November your correspondent has been whipping the waters of southern inland Florida to a foam with the short casting rod Black Wonder silk lines. Dowagiac baits and minor other good and useful parts of the angler’s kit. This is my third sojourn in this state of the big mouth bass and it seems that there are no end to the valuable points to learn. I am often astonished that I haven t before met with some of the confrontations that come up from day to day. The standard No. 5 Expert Kingfisher silk casting line (which I have always used and think I always will use in the North) won’t do at all for the big bass of these waters. It will land many of them but is almost sure to fail when tested by the big ones the very ones we are most desirous of securing. If the line were always fresh at the lure end and the water always deep and clear the experienced Florida angler could land a 20 pounder with the Expert No 5; but we must be better prepared and I have never seen a casting line that combined strength and smooth, running qualities in the same degree as does the Black Wonder.
As for rods we must have a stiffer stronger article than the proper bait casting rod for the North. In order that it be not unwieldy it must be short and we use 4 ft 9 inches with excellent success. On nearly every outing we have battles with fish weighing from 5 to 10 lbs and the greater strength and activity of the Florida bass are very trying to one’s entire tackle though affording a lot of fun to the true lover of the art.
When I first read Dr Hcnshall’s big black line on the cover of his large volume about the black bass “Inch for inch and pound for pound the gamest fish that swims” I felt a doubt about it, but since then I have spent some successful hours among the gamest saltwater fish and thus it is I am now of the opinion, when every point properly coming within the meaning of the word game is considered, that this Florida big mouth has no equal on land in the air or in the water. He is a combination of tiger, wild cat, and chain lightning. While the tarpon after he is hooked makes his runs leaps into the air and comes down with a splash commensurate with his weight he cannot properly be called a game fish it seems to me because he attacks the lure after the manner of bottom fish or as a Poland China hog seeks an ear of corn. He is nowhere near so gamy as a Spanish mackerel or cavalle and none of these belongs to the high class of the American small mouth and big mouth bass.
Tomorrow I shall be among them again and I know that just behind an old cypress root growing out 15 rods into the lake there lies a 10 pounder. He is there wiggling his fins rolling his big eyes about and looking for trouble but he isn t expecting the kind of trouble he is going to meet He doesn t propose that any moving thing shall come within the domain of his ancient solitary reign Past experience teaches mc that I can find that tree among many score of others like it The water is reddish stained they tell me by the roots of a forest of cypress trees with their enormous butts resting in the water at a depth of from 2 to 6 feet.
Brother Bait Caster, did you ever go casting in the woods, with no flowers or undergrowth near by?- just clear, clean water good to drink only pretty warm with the trees sticking out of it like piles unsystematic ally driven into the hard sand big end down. Among the roots and within the caverns formed by these big butts lie the wily old rascals as I said before looking for trouble. Just cast a Dowagiac minnow, with its down hanging treble hook, a little beyond and draw it within 2 feet of this cypress and your nerves will be greeted with a rush that is nothing less than intoxicating to the angler. I generally use a surface bait in the cypress waters while both surface and underwater baits work well in the land locked clear water lakes. Just here I wish to say that all surface lures must have the hooks hung under the bottom if the angler desires a degree of certainty in securing his strike. Not so with lures that run below the surface. If the lure be 2 or 3 inches below the surface the bass will strike the side every time and here the trebles must be placed the reason being that a bass does not take a lure in his mouth but rather nips it with his front teeth and when the lure is a few inches underwater he will bite the side of it 24 out of 25 times. On the other hand if the lure be running on the surface he will nip the bottom 49 times out of 50. I have a lure in my tackle box going under the title of “the Coaxer”, that was copied from a chunk of pork- at one time quite popular with Chicago bait casters. It is made for a weedless, bait and like its porky paren,t is very much of a success in this line. It’s a nice bait to use in places where much better clear water baits would gather too many bouquets as they went along, and about 1 time in 4 or 5 strikes your bass will get the big hook, which is turned up through a red feather behind. But, as a rule he bunts the bottom and doesnt get hooked In clear water or any place where the expert angler can run a Dowagiac bait he will secure more than 4 times as many fish in proportion to the number of attacks; but one sometimes encounters places where nothing but turned up hooks can be used, and then this is a very good lure for such places, as is also the Harris artificial frog when the bottom hooks are removed. Both lures are made upon the same principle namely with rear hooks turned up and bottom weighted to keep the lure right side up and both catch some fish. I find these laws correct, both North and South but here in Florida, where we have larger fish and more of them, is a good place to test lures. Micropterous salmoides is physically much the same North and South; n he is the same fish but the differentiation’s are well worth noticing. I am now in about the central part of the Florida peninsula, on the Palatlakaha chain of red water lakes, connected by the river of that name. There are in this chain 9 lakes with an area of from 80 to 7,500 acres each besides hundreds of beautiful clear water lakes all about us. These lakes are landlocked and well stocked with bass some reaching the enormous size of 23 lbs. The highest authentic catch about here is 12 2 lbs which I have not broken as ye.t There are larger fish here, much larger, but among my many thousand casts I haven t so far been lucky enough to spot the lure in just the right place though 6 7 and 8 pounders have been quite numerous on my stringer.
During my present sojourn I have had the pleasure of being twice entertained by Sportsman Chas. H. Stokes, of Mohawk Florida, at whose place I met anglers from many of our larger cities. I also met that experienced angler and racy contributor “Billy Bass” and had the pleasure of his company on the water and will say here that I have never seen his equal in the expert handling of a big fish after he is hooked. He is a small man but as wiry quick and full of expedients as any bass I ever met. But an especial pleasure was reserved for me in that I was doomed to make another angling acquaintance to wit and namely Miss Janette Hawley. No doubt many of the Sports Afield Family have witnessed bait casting by ladies. I believe I had previously met several clever women casters but until I saw Miss Hawley spot a lure and handle some big fish, I had never really witnessed artistic angling for bass, by a lady.
Miss Hawley is a young woman of about medium weight and height strong and active and a thorough sportswoman. I am told she is an excellent wing shot having had much practice in the West before taking up her residence in Southern Florida one year ago. She will stand on the front seat of a boat and cast long and accurately her rod being ever in correct position both when making the cast and reeling in striking her fish with an enthusiasm. I have never before witnessed and bringing him to landing net or gaff with a skill that at once proclaims her an artist. I have seen her give orders to the oarsman just what to do while she was leading the big fellows through the water with her left hand and when sufficiently exhausted to bring within reach pick up her net or gaff and take them in with a movement as graceful and unerring as ever it has been my good fortune to witness.
This southern peninsula of Florida is certainly the angler’s paradise especially the angler who seeks that prince of fishes the black bass. The whole country is dotted with fresh water lakes of which there are said to be over 1.500 in this county alone ranging from small ones of 5 acres up to the great Apopka, whose western shore is only 5 miles from where I am writing and which has an area of something more than 100 square miles and all are well stocked with our favorite fish. The Northern angler readily learns how to select the best places the moment he looks at one of the lakes and will make few errors in his selections. The climate is lovely and for health can nowhere be excelled in winter.