An early Pachner & Koller Bright Eyes ad from the March 1947 issue of Sports Afield magazine. Image Bill Sonnett.

Around 1952, I was walking along the shore of Indian Lake in Ohio not far from my grandfather’s summer cottage looking for bobbers, dead fish, clam shells, or anything else that would intrigue a young boy.  My eyes suddenly came to rest on a bass plug lying in the gravel.  I looked around and saw there was no one anywhere along the shore of the lake.

It was an area frequented by “bank fishermen” and it started to sink in that one of them had accidentally dropped the bait, probably while rooting through his tackle box.  I could not believe my good fortune as up to that time, I had never actually owned a real fishing plug and had few prospects of owning one in the foreseeable future.

The bait struck me as absolutely beautiful in shape and color.  Sometime later I noticed it had a name molded on it that was barely readable but definitely said “Bright Eyes.”  That seemed appropriate as the bait had two prominent eyes facing forward.  When I placed the bait in the water it had a nice enticing wiggle and looked for all the world like something a bass would love to eat.

No one in my family was a bass fisherman so there was little advice to be had as to how best to use the thing and get results.  On and off for the next several years I would sling that plug off into the wide-open waters of Indian Lake and watch its seductive wiggle as it swam back to shore.  Not once in all those hours did I have a hit or catch a fish.

As a freshman in High School, I read several articles in Outdoor Life and Sports Afield about how effective night fishing was for Largemouth Bass.  One very black night I wandered down the shore not far from where I had originally found the bait and started to cast out into the darkness.

After an hour or so of uneventful casting, I made up my mind that I was not going to quit until I had caught something.  I cast mindlessly into the dark thinking I was going to be successful if I had to cast into the next morning.

After a while, my brain was elsewhere, and I was simply going through the motions of cast and retrieve when I felt a definite hit from a fish.  I set the hook and felt a living thing tugging on my line.  AT LAST!  I was going to catch a real bass!

The fish came in a little quicker than I anticipated and, in my excitement, I heaved it up on shore.  It was too dark to see my trophy and I scrambled to get my flashlight turned on.  In the beam of the light with my prized plug in its mouth wiggled a large Bullhead – talk about a letdown.  I put that plug away and soon found myself mowing lawns and doing other odd jobs which allowed me to buy other, hopefully more effective bass plugs.

Still mine after more than 70 years. Image Bill Sonnett.

I still have that “Bright Eyes” these 70+ years later.  It hangs over my desk and still brings back memories of the day I found it and the treasure it represented in my eyes as an eight-year-old.  It all came back a few days ago when I came across the lead-in ad for the P & K Bright Eyes in the March 1947 issue of Sports Afield.  I’m hoping you have good memories of fishing as a youth and that you are inspired to take a boy or girl fishing and help create treasured memories for them.