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Fishing For Bluegill Bites
I like to write columns taken from personal life experiences, because they tend to be even harder to believe than anything I could make up. I enjoy sharing some of the ups and downs that occur when I try to get the most out of what little spare time I’m given each week.
Rarely referred to as a person who pays painstaking attention to planning and details, I recently decided to fly with the wind and go with my gut instinct. As it turns out, sometimes that’s just not a very smart thing to do.
My son, Richard, and I fancy ourselves as quite the outdoorsmen. We have always enjoyed fishing, and he likes to hunt as well. We often take off on seat-of-the-pants fishing outings, going after a variety of species whenever the itch needs scratched.
We’ve had occasional success over the years. Both of us have landed a good number of trophy bass, and we’ve caught our fair share of large bluegill, catfish and tree limbs. He even caught a 10-gallon bucket once.
Just for fun, we’ve grabbed a can of whole kernel corn and spent an afternoon slaying large carp in Big Blue River.
For years we’ve talked about taking various trips to Southern Indiana for the monster bluegill in the Greene and Sullivan County strip pits. We’ve discussed returning to Missouri to go after those elusive 15-plus pound largemouth bass, or trekking to Minnesota to try out one of those 10,000 lakes they brag about on their license plates. How hard would it be to find one of those lakes?
We are sportsmen, and we have the “Bassmaster” shirts and hats to prove it.
Unfortunately, not all of our adventures have panned out because, even though we are pretty good fishermen, we aren’t all that adept at doing everything else that goes along with it.
We recently decided we would quit talking about all of those things we want to do and just start doing them. Instead of talking about getting a canoe, we recently traded a boat and trailer for one. We’ve used it several times and had a blast.
A couple of weeks ago we were dropped off at the S-curve on the Carthage Pike. We carried the canoe about 50 yards across a field to put in on Big Blue River. As our driver pulled away, we placed the canoe in the water, situated our fishing poles and cooler, and began to shove off for a nice float to the Walnut Ridge Road bridge. The only problem was, we forgot the paddles.
It’s one thing to love the outdoors and wildlife. It’s another to thing to be intelligent enough to prepare yourself for that adventure.
We were discussing the strip pits once again when we decided there had been enough conversation about it. The time had arrived to actually make the trip. We sat on my porch, chose the day for the trip, and agreed that we would both do enough research to make the outing go as smoothly as possible.
I then got into my car with my girlfriend, Misty, and as we drove away she noticed a baby bunny rabbit slowly hopping along the street. About that time, the neighbor’s cat pounced on the little critter and carried it off to the middle of a field across the road.
In a panic reminiscent of those who witnessed the Hindenburg disaster, Misty hysterically demanded that I save the baby bunny rabbit.
I stopped the car in the street, got out, and quickly walked into the field. There I was, the ultimate sportsman, squaring off against a clawless house cat that was about to play with a baby bunny. As neighbor Martin Jones and some of his family members encouraged me with their laughter, my thoughts turned to Nicholas Cage in the movie “Con Air.”
I remembered when Cameron Poe (Cage) confronted Billy Bedlum (Nick Chinlund) in the lower deck of the airplane. Bedlum had just found Poe’s personal belongings and discovered he was actually a free man. Bedlum was holding the stuffed bunny rabbit Poe planned to give to his daughter.
“Put the bunny down,” Poe said.
So there I stood, facing off against nature in a battle of man against beast. I was even wearing a camouflage T-shirt.
“Put the bunny down,” I told the cat.
About that time the rabbit made a really weird screeching noise, startling the cat, and the fluffy critter got away, scampering across the field and into a bunny safe zone next to the railroad tracks. I would have walked away triumphantly pumping my fist into the air had Martin not been bending over, slapping his knee so hard.
I told you this story is because it was a lot more interesting than our fishing trip to the strip pits in Southern Indiana, which I had planned to write about.
It turns out neither one of us actually did any research for the trip or on the area, although I did briefly talk to Bryan Rose, Jeff Brown and Tony Moore. I didn’t, however, heed any of their advice.
We had left Sunday morning and returned at about 11-p.m. Sunday night. During half of the trip we had no idea where we were, and we spent more time driving than we did fishing. Back home, Richard put the trip into perspective, borrowing from the MasterCard commercial. He said, and I quote:
“Gas to drive 370 miles: $55.
Despite the disaster of this trip, we’re not giving up, and have immediately started planning our next outing. Only on this trip, we aren’t taking any chances on being unable to locate our destination. We have a great plan.
This time, we’re taking our canoe to Lake Michigan.
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