By Larry Pullon - Little Rock, Arkansas - USA
A Fishing We Will Go!
I am originally from the Texas gulf coast, an area south of Houston where several muddy rivers empty into to gulf - ensuring chocolate brown waters except in periods of extended drought. So it is always a wonder to me to see cyrstal clear water, like the White River in Arkansas. I guess the same is true for my brother, Lewis, who has been coming to Arkansas every November for about seven years now to join me for some fall trout fishing. We typically fish anywhere from Norfolk down to Guion, which includes the biggest part of White River trout waters.
Two years ago there was major flooding on the river - tearing out our favorite fishing shoals and building new ones, even reshaping islands - reeking havoc on what was outstanding trout fishing waters. On the plus side, some of the places we used to fish are still familiar, yet new and different. The downside, 50-60 trout days are now 25-30 trout days (we release them anyways). The change has given me a better understanding of how perilous things were “back in the day” for the small river boats that used to run the river - one trip it’s “clear sailing” - same spot next year and you are piled up on the shoals!
This year we returned to a favorite cabin in a little town called Calico Rock
This year we returned to a favorite cabin in a little town called Calico Rock - named after the 200 foot high rock bluffs overlooking the river. We typically fish for rainbows with home made spinning lures - gold or silver willow leaf blades with red, blue, or natural brass bodies - very similar in size and weight to Mepps XD lures. The “book” says gold on cloudy days and silver on sunny days, but since most trout can’t read we frequently do very well with gold on sunny days and silver on cloudy days - I think it has more to do with water level and temperature. For brown trout - I have a secret lure. Brown trout love home made spinning lures made with gold or silver blades and Hematite beads! Shh!
This little outing of ours has grown the past couple of years - now includes wives, dogs, and this year, in-laws, which of course means it has gotten vastly more complicated! Three years ago packing meant spending a few hours going over the fishing gear, making new lures if the supply was getting low, maybe stuffing some socks, underwear, and a toothbrush in one of the side pockets of the tackle box. Now it means hauling suitcases, hanging clothes, cosmetic cases, games, dog bowls, dog food, leash, people food, razor, SOAP, deodorant, a crate or two of feminine products - to the point we need two vehicles to haul it all!
And I have to take pajamas! I hate pajamas, but I can’t be walking around in front of women folks in my underwear, or dressed in two day old stinking fishing clothes, with whiskers and uncombed hair - not if I want to continue to be allowed indoors when it is cold and raining! My brother is older than me, and perhaps wiser - he let me go on and on about the sorry situation, while he remained silent - traitor! I of course was quickly and firmly corrected for my lack of judgment from several directions and nearly banned from the breakfast table. “Breakfast??? We are having breakfast!!? I thought we were leaving at 06:00?” Obviously I had not gotten the memo!
We are catching occasional trout - 13 - 15 inchers, not aquarium size, and not “Get the net!” worthy, just the routine dime a dozen kind of fish.
Fast forward…..09:30 Friday on the river - finally. Wives and in-laws are in town shopping in many of the small local shops which seem to maintain an endless supply of rare and valuable antiques and whatnots. I am not fooled, I watch Antique Road Show, and the little gold “Made in China” stickers are usually a good indicator that you are not holding the next family heirloom.
Lewis and I are catching occasional trout - 13 - 15 inchers, not aquarium size, and not “Get the net!” worthy, just the routine dime a dozen kind of fish. We drift past a couple of guys fly fishing - one would catch a 10” trout and bring it in with great glee and gusto - remarking on the beauty, the wonder of it all. Hmm, those guys remind me of my brother and me - two years ago. I am jealous of them.
Fast forward…. Saturday morning. OK, maybe this breakfast thing isn’t so bad, I could get used to fishing with a full belly, and those biscuits were great! And the lady at the boat dock didn’t back up much when we walked by. Not stinking on a fishing trip? I guess I can live with that too - if I get biscuits! But I am sooo sleepy. We used to get up early, fish hard, eat supper, and hit the sack by nine. Now we have to play “UNO” or some other complicated game until midnight. “Ah ha, you didn’t say Uno!”
“What the hell?!” And I found out mother my mother-in-law snores - LOUD - no sleep for me.
I soon discover there will absolutely be NO farting of any kind - the fart function has been disconnected, nor will you mention the topic, nor show any discomfort from massive pressure building up to explosive levels! I had to walk our poor dog, Roy Rogers, every few minutes - even if it meant dragging him out - “But hon, he really wants to go out again - now!!” He finally hid from me - left me to suffer alone…damn dog!
We got a good start that morning and fished until 10:30. That was all of the time we had because we had to get back to the cabin by 11:00am sharp - to wash again and change clothes for the 2 hour drive to Branson, MO. for some spirited shopping at the bazillion outlet stores they have. Shopping??? Most have been another lost memo!
Because we ate bacon and eggs for breakfast we were only allowed lean cold-cut turkey sandwiches for lunch. For the record, turkey sandwiches are like paper sandwiches and don’t come close to making up for shortened fishing time - such a loss could only be made up by a cheeseburger platter or steak and potatoes! I vocalized my thoughts about turkey sandwiches - feeling as “driver” I had some type of temporary immunity - a license to speak, so to speak - guess not. I was thoroughly corrected by wife, sister in-law, and mother in-law! I swear I heard my brother say “Yeah, that’s right!” when elbowed by his wife - although he firmly denied it later. Turkey, cheese, and bread - I mean bread by itself can make good farts under the right circumstances, the cheese is legendary for causing problems, add a quickly gulped soda, stress from hurrying, fatigue, and confinement for two hours and…uh, oh…..
They quickly blamed me…all of them, even Roy Rogers. I swear I was innocent! I apparently am not the only one in the family that has a negative reaction to turkey, cheese, and bread! Glancing beside me I noted Lewis looked innocent - too innocent, and too quiet, once again using his "under the radar" capabilities to my disadvantage! But I knew in my heart it was not my “flavor” and only a tiny fraction of my weakest capability - nothing I would have ever wasted the effort on, especially under such risky circumstances. But to my dismay they ALL quickly blamed me, and within seconds everyone was shouting “Larry!” “Ewwwww” “Roll down the windows!” “Stop the car!” “I am going to be sick!”
Amateurs! To turn a saying around - if I am doing the time, I might as well do the crime! Ahhhhhh, relief and a pleasant tone as a courtesy alert. Well, at least one thing became clear - it wasn’t me the first time!
Once we got back in the car and underway I knew I was in bad trouble - you know when all the wife’s remarks are through clinched teeth. Boy was I going to get it when we got home!
Fast forward 02:00 Sunday morning. The Branson trip went OK. A couple of well placed purchases and I ignorantly think I am out of trouble, almost completely. We got back to the cabin at 10:30pm - I am exhausted…must sleep. I convinced my wife I would be better off on the couch - she quickly agrees (what?!). To my delight the couch is even more comfortable than the one at home and I am soon gratefully lost in a deep exhausted sleep.
I open my eyes - blood pounding in my ears and two feet away is a silhouette of a huge hairy mountain man, bent down, inches from my face, knife drawn...
There is a motion activated light in front of the cabin - every now and then the wind blows hard enough to activate a searchlight bright beam of light - it blasts through the glass in the front door right into my eyes. I close them tighter but it’s like trying to sleep at noon, in the desert, with no shade. My eyes are tightly closed but I still see motion, a shadow moves in the bright light! It dawns on me I am not alone! Huh?!! I open my eyes - heart racing, blood pounding in my ears, and two feet away is a silhouette of a huge hairy mountain man, bent down, inches from my face, drawing a knife to ruthlessly murder everyone in the cabin! I soon discover my “fight or flight” reflex is really a whimper or scream reflex. I screamed - sorry to say, not exactly a manly scream either! Of course, even a squeaky little girl scream at 2:00 in the morning in a stone still mountain cabin is sure to draw the attention of the other occupants! The first response was from my wife who was standing two feet in front of me - “Larry you dumbass, it is me!”
Turns out, the dog needed to go out for real (which I am trained to sleep through) and when they came back inside she was reaching down to pick him up just as the stupid motion light came on behind her. She is 4’11” - not exactly a big hairy mountain man! So the next 20 minutes was “Are you OK?? Blah, blah, blah, can’t believe you screamed, blah, blah, blah, sounded like a girl, blah, blah, blah…..” Look I was every bit as humiliated as the time I peed my pants in second grade - I am not over that one, so forgive me if my brain protects my sanity by suppressing most of the conversation and comments that night! Let’s just say it was not flattering!
Sunday 07:30 - 11:30. Exhausted….Fishing…Who cares! This is so stupid, wasting our time out here trying to catch stupid trout! They are all stocked anyway! Cloned fish on a fake river! It is all a stupid illusion perpetuated by beer commercials! I hate fishing, I hate boats, I hate mountain cabins, I hate clear flowing rivers! Burn the cabins and fill in the damn river it's a nusiance! I am so tired my teeth hurt, and so sleepy I am nodding off between heartbeats. This sooooo sucks - get off my line you stupid fish - what are you thinking!
Nobody spoke much, packing the car and truck - unpopped popcorn, unwatched movies, a box of stupid games, enough food for another week, pillow case full of perfectly clean dirty clothes, you could hardly tell we used anything…. After a silent two hour drive back home we put the boat inside - unloaded everything, and by six in the evening you could never tell we had been gone. Banter around the dinner table focused on the highlights of the trip - the bigger trout this year, better deals at the outlet stores, the beautiful fall colors on the ride to Branson, how great the cabin was, blah, blah, blah. Oh, they all agreed, what a nice trip it had been, and how we should do it all again next year - only bigger - maybe for a whole week!