Opinion

Bob Mitchell: Fun fishing trip well remembered

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Did you ever have a thought strike you about a trip that occurred several years ago, and find yourself trying to count the number of friends who were on that trip that might still be living?

That is what happened to me just recently, and some of the names involved will probably spark a memory or two for some of you readers. There were a couple of instances that happened on the jaunt that were quite amusing at the time and should still bring a smile or two to someone.

Fishing trip to Toledi Bend

The event happened to be a trip to Toledo Bend Lake that runs along the Texas and Louisiana border. In fact, a fishing license from either state will suffice so far as fees are concerned.

There were eight in our party who had reservations at Lowe’s Creek on the Texas side of the reservoir. There was a majority of those who were either Democrats at the time or who had been at one time; this figured into a piece if the humor. The last town we passed through was Hemphill, Texas.

Just before this we entered an intersection at which there was a six-pack of refreshments being passed from one vehicle to another along side of each other. Unbeknown to us, a state trooper had been watching us, and saw what was in progress and turned on his lights. His admonishment to us was, make sure the driver isn’t partaking.

Naturally, it required two vehicles for the party and all their gear. Included in the group were: myself, Bill Easley, Jim Patterson, Cecil Davis, Don Carr, Herschel Stehlik, Almon Maus and Joe Ellis, all of whom had fished previously, not as a group, but individually.

Good camp fun

Lowe’s Creek was a good camp, units were modular and we paired off two to each one. The facility had made arrangements for guides for each pair in the lake that had only boat channels cleared of timber.

Roomies aren’t in my memory, except Ellis and Davis took the big unit agreeing to do the food preparation. Each in the party brought their favorite foods, frozen for the trip.

At the first meal, Joe Ellis realized there were six potential Democrats in the group and made his announcement, that he would do the dishes so long as he wasn’t criticized for his cooking or his politics. Anyone who did raise a question about the food would get kitchen police the remainder of the stay.

A cooking debt resulted after Don Carr threw a piece of spaghetti on the wall, and it stuck! Then he declared the meal was ready!

Non-productive fishing

Actually, fishing wasn’t all that productive. It was one of those instances where we should have been there yesterday or stayed longer.

Our guides worked hard, even in one day of extremely windy weather. One of them had a little fun about Joe bringing his minnow bucket to the dock thinking a crappie fishing time might be possible. The guide, known as “strict” in those parts, told Joe “pick out a strong stump on the way out to the lake and he would let him out with his “minner” bucket and pick him up on the way back at noon.” The party all enjoyed that one!

Bait store was a money maker

The bait store at the resort was a money maker since each morning there were stories about the catches on the previous day being on a particular bait, which was never the same as the day before. Everyone bought for that day’s fishing.

Kids of the area made good pocket change with their electric knives at the cleaning station, often having a fisherman’s catch cleaned by the time he gathered his gear and got to the car.

Five are now gone

Of the eight in this party, five are no longer with us, which probably prompted this column more than anything else: Cecil Davis, builder of a first resort on Table Rock Lake, Rod ‘n Reel Resort; Don Carr, KFC developer in several states; Almon Maus, Monett lawyer later serving on the Missouri Court of Appeals; Joe Ellis, Cassville attorney and confidant of the late Congressman Gene Taylor; and Jim Patterson, owner of Sears in Cassville, as well as a local trophy shop.

Off-the-spike

A reminder, it’s just three days from now, Dec. 7, the date 79 years ago that Japan pulled their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, thrusting the U.S. into World War II.

And, in case you have forgotten, there are 23 more shopping days until Christmas. That would have been three shorter had Missouri’s Blue Laws not been repealed years ago.

Missouri is still one of the leading coronavirus states in the Midwest, and we still don’t have a statewide regulation dictating wearing of masks to protect ourselves, and others. Those in the know have repeatedly told us this is one of the best protections we now have for controlling the spread of the virus.

Why then is nothing coming from Jefferson City.

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat. He is a 2017 inductee to both the Missouri Press Association Hall of Fame and Missouri Southern State University’s Regional Media Hall of Fame.