Making Friends in High Places


| August/September 1998

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  • Jumper worms were one of the previously unknown hazards of fishing in New Mexico.

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Fishing... New Mexico-style. 

Being a recent transplant to New Mexico, I was eager to be accepted by my neighbors. But, somehow, I kept getting things wrong. For example, I was used to walking from place to place back home. While in the mountains, well, all the streets were either up or down. And instead of potholes there were rocks growing in the road—which, I would guess, is all the same to an automobile's suspension.

But back to making friends with my neighbors. One day while my wife was sneaking up on our place in first gear, I decided to get some exercise. I slid out the passenger side and strolled along, continuing our discussion about the drought. I reached in for a Kleenex from the dashboard, wiped the bugs off the windshield, and was cleaning the wipers when Clifton "Clif" Hangor, my nearest neighbor and chief of our volunteer fire department, braked his 4x4, watched us for a while, and just shook his head. "It takes a while for flatlanders to get over walking," he declared.

Trying to be agreeable, I replied, "Well, it's easier than jogging and keeps me in shape for firefighting. Right, Chief?" I must have said the right thing, because Clif invited me to go fishing the next morning.

"Got to get some jumper worms and fireballs for bait," Clifton announced as we caromed from boulder to rock in the early morning light and I wiped the last of my coffee from my eyebrows. He pulled into Furr's super-mart and emerged five minutes later with a fresh cup of coffee and a yellow plastic bag with bait. I examined the blue container labeled "Jumpers."

"Why do they call them jumpers?" I asked, picking a particularly lethargic worm out of his peat moss bed. "Don't!" Clifton shouted.

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