Fishing has been the focus of my life for as long as I can remember. Growing up, my father was a fishing guide and our family relied solely on his income to support us “year-round.” The legacy of fishing that my father passed on is a highly-cherished tradition that’s survived the test of time when little else has. Simply put, the desire to fish is the one thing that’s never changed for anyone in my family. During his run as a fishing guide (almost 20 years, full-time), my old man graced the cover of most every popular sports magazine and fishing show in the nation. I didn’t realize it at the time and perhaps it’s because I grew up with him, but Dad was quietly creating a positive reputation for himself throughout the fishing community. The only thing that might’ve been more impressive than his fishing success was the success of his guide-business, based strictly on word-of-mouth clientele. The ripple effect of his consistency, hard work, kindness, and success effects me still today.
As for my early childhood, I can clearly remember the briskness of the bitter-cold, heavily-anticipated mornings Mom, my brother, and myself helped Dad host tournaments and shoot TV shows for Angler’s Choice, Honey Hole Magazine, and almost every other nationally recognized fishing show of the day. As I’m sitting typing at this very moment, I’ve just had a flash back of running through Jerry and Deb’s (Dean) house at Christmas-time, when Honey Hole’s printing was still 100% in-house (no, like really in their house)!
Dad and Jerry went on to make many shows together and Dad wrote the Possum Kingdom article (for Honey Hole) for a few years. I’ll never forget watching Dad hand-write his articles on a big yellow pad and mail them off to Jerry/Deb for printing. Even to this day, I can clearly recall the precise penmanship of Dad’s cursive writing and how he’d make 1st, 2nd, and final edits his articles before sending them in. I’d eagerly await the upcoming monthly issue to see how Dad described the current fishing conditions for “our” lake. He never thought he had a way with words but those articles played a huge part in my confidence to put myself through college (in my 30’s)…
Before it was all said and done, Dad appeared in some 20+ fishing shows, 30+ lake map and magazine covers, and countless newspaper articles. The funny thing is that we’d sometimes have NO CLUE where certain photos came from and Dad was never notified that they’d be featured on a cover. He never griped or made a fuss of this and I remember the admiration I had for his sense of reserve and patience in manners such as this.
Things were just – different back then. It was a different pace of life. We’d literally be walking through a sporting section/store and see his face on the cover of a lake map he had no clue existed. The majority of the time, these maps were showing pictures of Dad on Possum Kingdom, not the lake featured on the map, and the funny thing was Dad’s reaction to said maps. Not only did he NOT bicker about these pictures being used without his permission, he never pursued the companies or photographers. Come to think of it, he had to pay for copies of the maps and it tickled him. .. At one point or another, “Paw” even ended up on the cover of a sports magazine with a picture of him and a nice little yellow cat!? Good times:
In addition to the personal side of this period of my life, I can also remember the social aspect. At the ages of 4 and 6 years old, my brother and I were touring Texas with Dad and Mom and creating our own friendships with many fishermen. I’ll never forget two separate fishing teams that ALWAYS had me draw their launch number (at tourney registration). I cannot remember their names but will never forget the elation of one team when I drew #1 for them in the season’s championship tournament. In hindsight, I believe I was happier at this point in my life than any kid has ever been.
Who I am Today
Moving forward into my adult life, I can honestly say if it wasn’t for fishing I probably wouldn’t be married to the woman I am. My wife and I met at a summer youth camp years ago and forged a friendship that continued on (in the form of fishing trips each summer) into our early adulthood. Tiffany used to come stay with us a week or two during the summer to help as a deckhand on big fishing trips. Her obsession with the outdoors is what fueled my interest in her and the fact the she hunted and fished made her perfect for me. The older we got, the more time we spent together during those summers and we’ve literally grown up together (as a couple) embracing the outdoors.
This beautiful woman stole my heart not only by harvesting a deer before me at the tender age of 8 years old (seriously, that’s a big deal when you’re a country boy – for a city girl that’s 2 years younger to shoot a deer earlier in life)… but she also knew how to fly fish before me and loved to deckhand chartered trips with Mom and Dad. By the time we were in our mid-teens, we were dear friends. It wasn’t until our late teens that her and I started dating.. and seeing as how she could’ve had any trust-fund type she wanted and still chose my country-self, just drove it home even harder; I’m lucky beyond words to be married to such an extraordinary woman. The mutual passion of fishing and the outdoors in general is what allowed us to stay in communication before internet and cell phones were commonplace. When I say I wouldn’t be married to my wife if it wasn’t for fishing, I mean every word of it.
No matter the time of year, our family was ALWAYS in fish. Bass, sandies, striper, crappie, cats, trout, redfish, flounder, etc.., we chased fish all across Texas. Dad always made sure that we were on fish when went out as a family. I was spoiled to amazing fishing as a child and perhaps it’s that unbelievable fishing success that fueled my obsessive fishing passion. Nobody’d believe the amount of BIG FISH we caught as a family. Many, many years, Dad spent 300+ days on the water. When he told the family to load up for a fishing trip, you could bet some insane action was in store. To say my father was my hero would be an understatement and I can’t imagine a young boy admiring his father more than I admired mine. We fished from FAR west Texas all the way down to Port Arthur and though we were actually struggling as a family (financially), we were filthy rich as far as I was concerned.
When Dad started his guide business, his name quickly evolved to “Jiggin Jerry.” Didn’t matter if it was a rubber-skirted bass jig or a good ole’ Fle-Fly crappie jig, if Dad was fishing it, he was catching something. I remember many, many mornings of flounder jigging with Dad… That’s right, we pretty well caught any fish we’ve ever targeted with one type of jig or another.
When I decided to build a website for my jig making, the domain name was a no-brainer for me. I called my brother to see if he agreed on using the namesake and he loved the idea. Jiggin Jerry was my Dad’s fishing handle my entire life and I venture to say there was a time he was known better as “Jiggin” than Jerry. I can’t think of a better web address to sell my jigs….. to sell “Jerry’s Jigs” (also named in honor of my old man)…
In Loving Memory of “Jiggin” Jerry Taylor
(April 1953 – January 2015)
….and Lisa Michelle Taylor
(October 1960 – August 2010)
I consider this website an ode not only to my father, but also my mother, who helped Dad establish his brand so long ago. Not only was she supportive of his career (initially, when others mocked the idea), but she helped him as a deckhand for the two decades “Jiggin” Jerry graced the water. Those of us fortunate to know her can still hear her smilin…. =]
I genuinely pray God grants me the ability to provide the quality of customer service my parents did for theirs and the gift of raising my children in a similar manner as I was raised. This way of life is the one God created us for and the one my family was made to embrace… We respect our fellow man and show kindness to everyone, all walks of life. Our only aim is to bring others TRUE joy by educating them with this highly cherished family tradition.
(Thank you God for the path you’ve chosen for me. )