Who's Drawing the Dirty Pictures?

by Joel M. Vance

There is something suggestive about soft-bodied lures, including the name. Visions of negligees, of breathless tropical nights, of dizzying perfume. At least that's the way I see it, but you know how my mind works.... There's nothing new about soft-bodied lures. They were among the first ever invented and I'll bet the guy who devised the Phantom Minnow dipped it in some goo to give it flavor and scent.

You notice, they call it "scent" and not "stink", which is what it is. "Scent" implies a perfume that drives members of the opposite sex mad. If you think fish attractant qualifies, try daubing some behind your ears the next time you have a Big Date and see how it works. You'll drive The One mad, all right. Mad as hell. "What is that awful smell!" she will exclaim, and you will say, "Well, it attracts bass," and she will look at you as if you just crawled out of a sump pit and will reply, "fine, Champ, why don't you take a trophy muskellunge to the prom then?"

This idea of using Eau de Slime to attract fish is nothing new. Have you ever pried the lid off a bucket of catfish bait, thinking it was the cheese dip? Well, I did and I haven't been able to look a potato chip in the face since (although it's like limburger cheese -- if you can get past the smell, it ain't bad).

They say fish have a finely-developed sense of smell, that a catfish can detect food farther away than my sons. 

Bass, however, are sight feeders, so why do we need lures dosed with stuff that would stink a dog off a gut wagon (my father used to use that phrase and I have wanted for years to see a gut wagon, especially with a dog on it, but I never have).

Why not develop bass attractants that smell like what bass eat: frogs, gophers, bugs and each other? The commercial bass goo smells like none of those things, not even in combination (unless, of course, they have been lying in state on the highway for several August days).

But we seem to have gotten away from the subject, which was sex in fishing and I'm really sorry because I know you started reading thinking I was going to get into the really steamy stuff, the underbelly of bass fishing, as it were.

There really isn't much lust in bass fishing. What sex there is lurks in the advertisements. They show lissome lasses with dazzling smiles landing trophy bass with the aid of whatever rod/reel/line/locator is paying the advertising freight.

Why do advertising lady anglers look like Michelle Pfeiffer while I hang around with anglers, male and female, who look as if they should be sprawled in the sun on a Nile River sandbar? And I wonder if they're thinking the same thing about me?

The point is that S-E-X sells in advertising. So you get a sleeping bag ad which features an attractively rumpled beauty stretching after an obviously refreshing sleep. This implies much more than it says. You make up throbbing fantasies and buy the bag.

A friend of mine bought one. All he ever shared it with was a snake that crawled in for warmth (and probably because the bag smelled like a snake's den). With a yell of terror, my friend threw the bag in the river. You couldn't sell him a sleeping bag today, even if you promised him the girl of the advertisements along with it.

I'd like to make those ladies of the advertisements do what they are implying they do (no, I mean the outdoor stuff, not what you're thinking). Let's see Tiffany or Elle start that 185-hp Black Bart Ram-Jet engine and pour the coal to it. Let's see Sheena June actually put up that tent on the shore of the lovely lake after portaging the 80-pound canoe six miles through trackless tundra.

And lest you think me sexist, let me hasten to say that the lean, unscarred male models probably can't do what they seem to be doing either. I can see Wes Steele, man of a thousand advertisements, trembling next to the campfire, terrified of bears, Indians and ghosts. "I want my condo!" he whimpers. He faints dead away as a chipmunk tiptoes past.

Sex in bass fishing, huh. How about you get a five-gallon bucket of plastic worms and run your hands through it. A sensual delight. Watch out for hooks and the vice squad.