Stinging cold, deep crappie and lucky day fishing adventures

I introduced you to my buddy George in this space a few months back. George was taking on an active group of yellow jackets and he lost. Now that it is cold, George can venture outdoors again safely.

And since this is the time of year when you can go to the lake and catch fish, have fun and stay warm, it’s a great day. Well, two out of three ain’t bad, right? You can always warm up later.

We always have to plan around George’s busy scheduled and weather can’t throw us off track. One recent trip, it was bone-chilling cold and we went fishing, staring straight into a 23 mph north wind that stung almost as bad as a yellow jacket. But we caught a load of good crappie and had fun. Plus, we helped with a worthy cause.

I can’t say much about George because remember, he’s in the Witness Protection Program. He’s not supposed to have his picture taken, but he often slips up when we go fishing so he can brag a little about going with me and, occasionally, catching a fish. So far, we’ve been lucky.

On this trip, the hungry fish were about 25 feet deep and hanging on structure. We actually went with a friend who acted as a guide to do all the hard work, since Little George (George’s offspring) wasn’t available. To keep him from any pressure about keeping George’s identity secret, we’ll just call our guide Wild Harry.

Pay attention, George

It was George’s first time to use live sonar where you can see the fish, the structure and your bait. He was amazed. So much so that he often didn’t notice that little green “fish” on the screen swim over and actually eat his bait.

“He’s got it. He’s got it,” Harry would say emphatically. George said, “Oh,” and then waited a few more seconds before setting the hook. George is also notorious for getting a bite while bass fishing and trying to see how long a fish will swim around with the lure before he sets the hook.

Finally, George set the hook on the crappie with similar force that he would on a 10-pound bass, if he ever actually got one nearly that big to bite. The mighty swooping hook set with the $100 12-foot sturdy green crappie rod would bring the fish up about 10 feet from where it originally bit. George would have to reel up slack for a few seconds to finally feel the fish actually pull back. Then he reeled as fast as possible to get the fish in the boat. Most of the fish we caught were nice ones, but there was this one little fellow that bit and George set the hook and launched him all the way into the air! We admired him a second and put him back. The fish, not George.

Several times Wild Harry would mumble something about one of the fish we threw back missing an upper lip.

Also, every once in a while, George’s fish came off a couple of feet below the surface. Then we noticed in a couple of seconds, the “missed” fish floated up to the surface with the “Bends” and we would net it and put them in the ice chest. Amazing technique. Catch and release and catch. Maybe George did know what he was doing.

The “Bends” occurs when a fish’s swim bladder that helps him stay buoyant actually swells up and makes him float when he comes to the surface too fast. We were paying attention in science class and we earned our C grades!

Helping Harry

Oh, and that worthy cause I mentioned? We were trying to help Harry get started up as a fishing guide and gave him all the tips we could to help him catch fish. He did say over and over again he’d never seen anything like the way we fished. So, I think he really appreciated it.

When fishing with the live sonar, only one person can sit up front and drop a bait in front of the target fish. It was George’s birthday, so he got to sit up front most of the day. He finally let me get up front the last 30 minutes, when I immediately caught the biggest one of the day. I even got to chase a roaming school of crappie down and catch one about 20 feet deep on my Zebco 33 baited with a Road Runner.

I’ve tried to do that several times while helping train Harry, but it is the first time I’ve caught one doing it. It was a big moment. Even Harry was happy. And it was just under a pound, perfect for whole frying and not for having to filet.

On the way home, George was really happy. I was, too.

We finally thawed out enough to stop at King Burger for a snack and a drink. When George paid at the drive-in window, the young lady accidentally dropped a dime from his change. No problem. George pulled up, signaled the car in line behind us to hold up and he found the dime and two unused ketchup packets. Then he found three quarters, six nickels and nine pennies.

He might have found more had the young lady behind us not started honking her horn. We left quickly. George doesn’t like to call attention to himself as I mentioned before.

“That’s $1.24. Tax free,” he exclaimed. “This is my lucky day!”

Indeed, it was.

About Kinny Haddox 538 Articles
Kinny Haddox has been writing magazine and newspaper articles about the outdoors in Louisiana for 45 years. He publishes a daily website, and is a member of the Louisiana Chapter of the Outdoor Legends Hall of Fame. He and his wife, DiAnne, live in West Monroe.

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