Sunday, April 19, 2015


            A pair of spring plumage blue winged teal pass through the Ozarks on their way to nest in the northern prairies.

                        I found this vicious snarling creature inside a hollow tree along the river...

             No one is going to believe this and I know it.  I can’t hardly believe it myself. So I am not going to write about it because it just sounds too far fetched!
            Oh what the heck… I do have witnesses.  My two fishing friends ‘seen it themselves’.  The two of them often go along with me in my boat, getting free access to some of the best fishing either of them could ever have due to my experience and adeptness at finding fish in hard-to-get to places.

            Despite that, despite the fact that I have taught them so much, the two of them are constantly making derogatory remarks about the expertness of my fishing ability and underestimating the size of my fish.

            There was no underestimating the size of the walleye I hooked though.  He was a dandy, five or six pounds at least and maybe bigger.  You could see him easily as I fought him alongside the boat, with Rich whackin’ at him with the dip net, something like a great blue heron would stab at a sunfish.
            I just didn’t have my drag set properly on my reel.  Most generally that is something I do at the beginning of every fishing trip, I check the drag on whatever I am fishing with.   When using heavier casting gear it isn’t so important, but when you are using four-pound line with light spinning tackle, that drag better be set right.  I am just getting too darned old to remember everything I guess, and I forgot to check it.  When that walleye saw my fishing partner waving that net around like he was a highway department flagman, he really got wild, and he made a huge lunge for deep water and broke the line.

            The lure was nothing of great importance, it was a Wal-Mart special, one of those one dollar four- or five-inch minnows that look like the old Rapala minnows, one that you can jiggle around on the surface or yank down under maybe three feet or so.  I was catching some really hefty white bass on it, had maybe eight or nine good ones and one walleye just a little better than fifteen inches long.  Then that big walleye came up from the depths and engulfed it and the fight was on.  He won, with the help of Rich and that doggone dip net.

            I don’t mourn the loss of one of those lures; I bought several of them back in February when the Wal-Mart sporting goods department put them on sale.  It was gone and forgotten because I just tied on another one.  And I didn’t throw my hat on the boat floor and utter an expletive and cry about that lost walleye like my fishing partners have seen me do before.  A fisherman with my experience gets use to losing big fish on occasion when using four-pound line and a switch for a fishing rod.
            You don’t become a grizzled old outdoorsman like me without watching big fish disappear in the depths on occasion, leaving you limp-rodded.  You just figure God had a better purpose for that fish than a sizzling destination in my frying pan.  You have to occasionally blame the Great Creator for your dirty rotten luck as a fisherman, unless you want to blame yourself for not checking the drag on your reel or not replacing old line.

            But now we are coming now to the unbelievable part.   I tied on that other lure, just like the other one except different, and almost an hour later, down the river about a half mile, I made a cast and when I reeled the lure back, it had hooked and retrieved the one I lost. 
            That’s right, when I brought it back in the boat, the one which had been broken off, last seen in the toothy jaw of that big walleye, was dangling from the back hook of the new one I tied on to replace it!!!  It sounds goofy doesn’t it, like something an outdoor writer might make up?  But honest, I swear on my camouflaged War-Eagle boat.  If I am lyin’ may it have a hole in the bottom of it, and may my Ugly-Stick break right in the middle!!

            Rich and Dennis both ‘seen it themselves’, and you can ask them, a couple of the most honest men I ever met!  But we hadn’t seen nothin’ yet.  Wait ‘til you hear this!  I tied that lure back on, and reset my drag so that it was perfect.  And I started catching big white bass again.  It was a drizzly, dark afternoon and Dennis caught two walleye that were 16- to 19-inches in length, fish that my previously lost lunker might have sired in his earlier days.

            And nearly two miles down the river from where I lost that big walleye, and a mile and a half from where I miraculously recovered my lost lure, I cast it out into a deep eddy below a shoal and a huge fish engulfed it only four or five feet from the end of my rod.  He looked like a monster coming up from the depths.  He stripped four or five feet of line against the drag and I told my fishing partners I was about to lose that lure a second time in two hours!

            But this time, Rich done good.  He got the net under that big walleye and it was mine.  I don’t know how much it weighed but it was 25-inches long and hefty.  I knew that the Almighty was trying to let me know how sorry he was that I had lost the first one.  Maybe the fact that I am trying so hard not to cuss as much when I lose a fish is paying dividends.  Or maybe he just decided it was that second big walleyes time to finally sizzle in my frying pan, as he will, soon.
            Maybe that second lunker wasn’t as deserving as the first, I can’t say.   But that two hours and the course of events in which a lost lure was found, and a second lunker walleye was hooked on it, certainly makes a man think, something I don’t do a lot of.

            If you don’t believe this story, I don’t blame you.  But I can show you that lure. It has big tooth marks all over it!

            I have made myself a couple of new turkey calls, and will be out there this week hunting gobblers and mushrooms, and fishing for crappie.

              I don’t have to work for a while because both my spring magazines are finished.  But if you can’t find them on the newsstands and you aren’t a subscriber, send six dollars to my executive secretary Ms. Wiggins and she will send you either the Journal of the Ozarks or the Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal, whichever you prefer. If you send twelve dollars she will send both. And for 14 dollars more you can get a copy of my new book, a humorous account of my first years in college at School of the Ozarks, entitled, “The Prince of Pt. Lookout”.

            Please see the photos I got this past week, whilst outdoors here and there.  They are in color on my website, which has been renewed recently.  I am proud of those photos.   The website is 
Email me or Ms. Wiggins at or write to us at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613

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