Take A Friend Fishing

On The Back Page With Daryl Gay - April 2020

Daryl Gay | March 28, 2020


Although you’ve never laid eyes on the guy, you can learn a lot about a prospective life-long fishing buddy/boon companion with a single glance. First impressions, you know.

Just take a quick look AT his boat, then IN his boat. Rightchere, he’s pretty well already sized up as keeper or cull.

Pretty well.

I’m totally aware that you might not be following my thought process here—who could? But never fear. I’m ‘bout to ‘splain. Saw that coming, didn’t you?

Had this acquaintance, see, who wanted me to get acquainted with this other acquaintance. Maybe it was on his mommer’s side; I disremember.

The common denominator in the equation is that we two non-acquaintances allegedly loved fishing better’n hogs love slop. The middle-man acquaintance didn’t fish—which is why he was merely an acquaintance and never achieved friend status. This other feller had recent moved to town and didn’t know nobody nor no good water.

Got it?

“Well, I don’t know,” I told him with some absentminded chin whisker scratching. “I’m a right smart secretive about my fishing holes, especially with folks what ain’t never met me yet.”

But he had come as prepared as one of them ‘Lanta lawyers.

“I discussed that with him already. He agreed to a trip to Lake Sinclair, which, although you will never admit it, is not one of your private fishing locations. It’s big enough for at least one other fisherman.”

I tried to butt in with an objection, but lawyer-like, he drummed right on.

“He has a bass boat.”


“A very nice bass boat. All his own tackle. Says he knows how to use it, at least on Lake Blackshear. But he’s never fished Sinclair. And he desperately desires your well-known expertise.”

OK then. Now we’re getting somewhere.

“I realize EXACTLY how hectic your schedule is, so since it’s now late Friday afternoon could you be ready to go before daylight Saturday?”

Bass boat, eh? Very nice.

In the end, I guess it was my plain old tenderheartedness what got the best of me: “Whacha gotta unnerstan’ is I’m not in the habit of doing fishing favors. But just for you…”

Ever been to one of them weekend hoedowns in some farmer’s barn, where all the unattached young folks is brought together to mix and match? The lanterns is turned ‘way down, mainly ‘cause you’d’a never slowdanced with that heifer in the light of day…

Suddenly, out of nowhere, floodlights brilliantly blaze upon everything from dirt floor to rafters… with neither warning nor fanfare, Raquel Welch slips sultrily in…

That’s the feeling I had when that bass boat rolled into my yard next morning as I toted tackle out the door. Drooling, dropped the suitcase/tackle box on my left ankle and took half the hide off. Was too flabbergasted to even hop.

Very nice.

Truck door opened, and out stepped a feller. Smiling. Looking closely at my rods. Frowning.

“You can put yours in here with mine. Plenty of room.” Genially.

I smiled back, then took a close look at his. And frowned.

Thinking, “Is that a juvenile anaconda tied on that black rod? Or did a cottonmouth just come long for the ride? And that white one’s got something on it looks like a wanna-be helicopter; maybe it flies the lure out to where it needs to go, then drops it…”

For my part, there was only one rig tied on: a 4-inch, green/firetail Lloyd Deaver worm with three exposed hooks on a Carolina rig.

Didn’t find out until later that his first thought was, “Catfish. We’re going after catfish! Using a rancid, triple-hooked Vienna sausage!”

Them first impressions can get off on the wrong foot sometimes. But at least we had 50 miles of driving to hash things out…

Later at the marina, we had a fair run up the lake to make. The rumble of that big Johnson against the whispering mist of dawn set the tone; the trip was pure joy. He didn’t have a clue where we were going, telling me eventually that Cuba must be around the next point.

But it was actually my favorite cove, and at last the time to sling rubber snakes and Vienna sausage had come. Seems Blackshear bass in the early days were head over heels with those snake-worms. He sailed it out—about 400 yards—and let it rest, looking sideways as I picked up Deaver’s Fish Finder offering.

Apparently, the rubber reptile had to make itself at home until it drew enough interest to get bit. He watched as I reeled in two bass.

That’s how many it took before the big bait came back aboard and he tossed me a wide grin and a statement that cemented a lifelong friendship: “Ain’t no way I’m sitting fishless in my own boat watching a man I don’t even know catch largemouth on a sausage.”

It was a matter of a couple minutes before he was rigged out and ready. That day up Island Creek was the best I’ve ever had on Sinclair. Always will be. Sure, we caught fish; culled, then caught more fish.

For forty years.   

He became one of the best with a Fish Finder, and I caught many a Blackshear bass with a 16-inch worm. We shared life, and death. I was thinking about him getting a very nice boat ready for Sinclair.

Yep. You can learn a lot from folks you ain’t never fished with…

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