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Backlashes, Broken Rods and Two Memorable Fishing Trips

12/26/2012 1:46:59 PM

It is kind of funny how these two stories came to mind. I wanted to give my followers a new article before the year's end, when these popped into my head. They were by no means the best fishing days of my long tenure, nor did I catch these most fish on these trips. However, what stands out in my mind some thirty or so years later, were the conditions under which we fished. I recall a very well known Bass Pro stating that he remembers every fish he has ever caught? Well, he must posses a fantastic memory! I am a mental midget comparatively speaking but these two are forever etched into my memory.

The year was somewhere around 1980. It had been a miserable winter and one of the coldest on record at that time. Ray Hubbard did the unthinkable and actually froze over! In many places the ice was thick enough to support a grown man, albeit a crazy one. At any rate my fishing buddy, Wayne and I had poured and painted enough slab spoon to keep the members of the Grand Prairie Fire Department in lures for the foreseeable future and had cabin fever real bad. As we lamented the sad state of affairs, he calmly suggest that we go fishing.

"Are you crazy, have you lost your mind," I blurted out in one breath? Well of course he is now and was then, but maybe we both were just a little bit. At any rate it took less than five minutes to load our gear into the boat and hook up to my four-wheel drive International Scout. Never giving the temperature, which hovered at 12 degrees a thought, we were on our way to Lake Ray Hubbard.

It was a good thing that my vehicle had four wheel driver because there was a serious coating of ice on the ramp. Getting launched was no problem, but to get out I had to back the little Harvester into the water to where the lake water lapped at the door. Now on solid, at least unfrozen ground, I gunned the motor and went for it. Thankfully the lake water, though near freezing, melted the ice enough to allow enough traction to get the trailer out and parked.

The ramp was near our fishing spot which, was near the hot water discharge. With the big two hundred hydro-blaster running at full throttle the trip would take less that two minutes. Unfortunately we could only run at full throttle for short burst at a time. The reason? It seemed that the steering fluid was frozen and I could only run in a straight line. It took some ingenuity but by lowering the trolling motor and using it from time to time to align with our destination, we made it in about thirty minutes. When we did finally make it we both looked as some type ice creature, since the spray from the waves had frozen as it hit our jackets. Determined, we both agreed to start fishing!

Now it would be a fitting end to this story to tell you folks that we miraculously found the fish in a frenzy and that we loaded the boat with sand bass, hybrids and black bass. Alas, it was not to be! Our every effort with at least fifty different patterns went for naught. The ice that extended out from the rip-rap probably had a lot to do with our lack of success but we pressed on. I was more than ready to cry "uncle" when I chanced to break out my ultra lite and started casting a Heddon Sonic. The fact that I had changed to the "pea shooter" had nothing to do with inspiration. The simple fact was that both my bait casting reels were frozen solid from the water that clung to the line upon the retrieve and I could not cast with them!

The rest of this story is that yellow bass had for some reason ganged up under the ice and were suckers for the light line and tiny bait. Wayne and I took turn running the trolling motor while the other cast and caught yellow bass, one after another. We would change positions once the catcher's hands froze from the water and the cold fish. All and all, we probably caught over fifty, none of which was over five inches long. But hey, "cabin fever" can make people do strange things!

We were met at the ramp by two very upset game wardens. They told us that the only reason that they did not ticket us for 'insane behavior" was because we actually made it back and they did not have to launch their boat and come search for us!

The other weird trip was with my brother, Bobby. I recall this trip because I am sitting here at the lap-top on pins and needles as I await word from his wife and daughter on his heart surgery today. Relaying this tale will help me take my mind off the operation and let me relive one of the most interesting trips of my career.

The trip took place on Toledo Bend sometime in the sixties. He was already a full time guide and I would commute from my fire department job to help him when he had extra clients. We were only going to go out and check several old worm holes and he was then going to show me areas where two to four pound bass "schooled' every day a ten o'clock. The late October weather was mild with no wind, but the Indian Summer would take a turn for the worse, as we were about to find out. The weather report was for the temperature to stay in the sixties and for the wind to remain calm with less than ten per cent chance of rain.

We were about five miles from our launch and were on our way in when my brother's boat hit one of the myriad stumps and spun a prop. In those days a rubber housing around the prop shaft was suppose to allow the propeller to momentarily stop when it hit an obstacles and then resume its hold on the shaft once the blades cleared. In this case it did not work! All that we could hear was the high pitched whine of the shaft inside the propeller when we revved the engine.

"What do we do now, Little Bother," I asked?

"Well, what you are going to do is get on that trolling motor and try to get us to the shore! In the mean time I am going to remove the prop and try to repair it," he said, not sounding too enthusiastic about his chances. "Oh yes," he added, "Try to not hit any more stumps while I am hanging out over the motor!" He had hardly got the words out of his mouth when we noted a slight change in the wind from south to north. "John Boy," he said, referring to the lead on the show The Walton's. "We are in deep"{you readers can fill in the blank}. Look at that cloud!"

In those days, trees towered high above the horizon and could effectively block out the horizon and that is just what had happened. The massive "Blue Northern' was barreling down upon us at a record pace and we were caught in a very bad situation.

"Bro," Bobby said," There is an old duck blind about two hundred yards to the west if we can just get there! If you can help pull us through the branches we just might be able to make it."

We did not quite make it. The rain and forty mile per hour wind smacked us and threatened to overturn the small bass boat. Somehow we managed to pull through the last fifty yards in the blinding rain and point the bass boat into the duck blind. Another problem developed! The blind had been made for a 12 foot john boat and the 17 foot bass boat would not quite fit. But desperation can cause one to do things that ordinarily would not nor could not be done. We found that by slightly raising the blind off the water, that we could walk the bass boat under it.

We were both now cold and wet and the duck blind leaked live a sieve. However, we found that by sitting on the corners of the bass boat that we could stay reasonably dry. As we sat there listening to the pelting rain and the sound of the howling wind, my silly little brother began to laugh.

"John Boy, you look like a drowned rat. A damn nutria can't get as wet as we are!" Bobby began to search through several shelves that were built into the duck blind. "Lookie what I found," he exclaimed! He produced two cans of Beenie Weenies, a rusty can of sardines and three cans of some type of sodas. "At least we won't starve to death."

"Well, we may not starve, but if we eat the food from those rusty can we will probably die of something a whole lot worse,'' I laughed. I knew the early stages of hypothermia make one think and act as a drunk, but the whole situation was suddenly outrageously hillarious.

We did eat the food and drink the sodas and quite honestly I had never enjoyed a meal more. It could have been because I felt that it would be our last because if the storm did not kill us, then the canned food likely would.

The storm raged for about two hours, then it abated. The cold north wind gave way to a gentle south breeze and the heavy rain turned into a gentle downpour. In the mean time, "Little Mac," I called him that because like the television hero Migiver, he coudld make something from nothing and he could make any thing broken work, said, "I repaired it."

By using some of the wire from the duck blind covering he had managed to repair the prop. We could now motor in if we were careful, went slow and did not hit another stump. We extracted the boat from its marriage to the blind and headed home. At that instant black bass began to school all over the unfinished boat road on which the blind was moored. Bob looked at me and we both dived for our rods. We forgot about the warm rain and threw Tiny Torpedos into the schooling fish.

We were able to catch about twenty or so each before the bass suddenly stopped their frenzy. None of the bass weighed over two pounds, but it was one of the best trips of my life. As the sun burned through the waning clouds and the lake flattened out, Bob said, "I believe I caught two more than you did."

I did not argue for once. I was a winner either way. I had just survived a hurricane, my stomach was none the worse for eating the rusty canned food, and I was fishing with a man I love more than any other in the world, my brother Bobby.

I hope you readers enjoyed these two and will stick around for more. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all out there.

The Cajun guide/Johnny Procell


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