The Mr. Hooty spinnerbait is my lure of choice

Published 12:01 am Sunday, September 4, 2011

If I had to choose only one bass lure of the 10,000 or so that I’ve accumulated during the past four decades, it would be a spinnerbait.

It would not be just any spinnerbait. My choice would be a local favorite called Mr. Hooty manufactured by the Old River Lure Company. Mention Mr. Hooty to most any of the area fishermen and ladies and they will know the name and own at least a few of these time tested proven bass lures.

I was fortunate to be acquainted with and a friend of the creator of this lure, the late Mr. M.L. Brooks. The company name says it all — Old River Lures. This compact fish catcher was designed for fishing the landlocked Mississippi River oxbow lakes and old river bend lakes from Vicksburg to Natchez on both sides of the big river.

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I fished with and against Mr. Brooks in many bass tournaments. He was a great fisherman. In the early 1970s, he built a few spinnerbaits for his personal use. Like most successful lure stories, this one started out on a kitchen table.

Mr. Brooks began catching a lot of fish, so a couple friends asked for some lures, and Old River Lure Company was created. During those early days, Mr. Brooks and his wife were the only employees. I would love to know just how many lures they built.

It was 1973, and I was just entering high school. I had yet to fish a bass tournament. I had an old Ouachita Jon boat, a 4 h.p. Evinrude, one rod and reel, one tackle box and a boat paddle. My friends and I were the terror of the barrow pits. These little strip pits were formed when the levee was built. They had to get the dirt somewhere, so they dug narrow strips along the river side of the levee.

Most people call them bar pits, and once they filled with river water these pits were a haven for largemouth bass. I have never figured out the name “barrow pit” simply because the dirt would never be returned.

Anyway, my friends and I fished the pits from Vidalia south to where the hydro plant is now located. Back then, many of these pits were posted but the land owners tolerated us. The downfall came many years later when uncaring people trashed the banks with household garbage and such.

Our group of backwater fishing teenagers grew and we hosted a couple “tournaments” on the pits. We would put up $5 each, and it was winner take all. That didn’t last long. We took their money one time too many.

My dad and uncles were fishing the local bass club scene along with some of the veteran locals like the late Cutis Cassel and Ellis Taylor. Some are still with us like Lynn Jones, Jimmy Hodges and others.

My uncle, the late Troy Roberts, took note that I was catching a lot of big fish from Lake Concordia. He talked me into fishing with Concordia Bass Club. That was around 1975. I won that first tournament with 19 pounds of bass all of which were caught on Mr. Hooty spinnerbaits.

I was hooked, deeply. I chased tournaments for the next 30 plus years and continue to fish a few. I have one big tackle box full of spinnerbaits. Most all are Mr. Hooty’s. I am so glad to see this lure land in the hands of the right people.

Touring pro Chris Burnham and Cynthia Bryan of Farmerville purchased the company on 2005. I am now an Old River Lure Company Pro Staff Member. I bet Mr. Brooks is looking down at me and smiling. We go a long way back. I am very proud to once again be associated with the lure that made me a successful bass angler.