Wrote in the beautiful month of May in the year 2008.
Hi gang! Man, what incredible weather we’ve got here in Memphis today! It’s so beautiful outside that I’ve decided that I’ll write about one of my three favorite things.
Now let’s see… one of ‘em is illegal,
so I think I’ll save that one for another day! There are no incredibly beautiful ladies around to inspire me for the second thing… so that one, also, will have to wait!
That leaves FISHIN’!
A story of this caliber deserves two mighty heroes in order to hold your wandering attention! They must be strong… and very brave… and unbelievably handsome!
Unfortunately, those two guys were somewhere else on the day this tale took place… so you’ll have to settle for my good friend, Patrick Dale Daugherty and myself!
I believe we’ll call this tiny adventure…
Chasing A Rainbow!
Imagine a morning… a lot like this one. Two sleepy musicians who imagine themselves as the greatest of outdoorsmen manage two drag their butts out of their warm beds at the crack of Dawn to head out on an hour-long drive to put them in what they considered to be … Heaven.
The White River in the beautiful Ozark Mountains.
Let me tell ya’ll a little bit about this place before we get started. It won’t take too long, so bear with me here. Cotter, Arkansas has a sign hangin’ at the city limits that reads “The Rainbow Trout Capital Of The World!”
This little slice of Paradise sits at the very foot of the dam that forms Bull Shoals Lake, and it is here that our elusive quarry lives! The incredibly beautiful and shy Rainbow trout. It is a little known fact that there are two kinds of rainbows who frequent these waters. One is the wild version… that was born in the White River and travel up and down its miles of flowing waters for it’s entire lifespan. The second of these beauties are the ones grown by the State of Arkansas in one of its fisheries… and released into the wild as fingerlings to populate the rivers and streams. These trout, “locals,” are for some reason known to live their whole lifespan within a small area, usually a mile or two, from where they were originally released! A major percentage of all hatchery raised fish are released in this one location.
You fish different styles and locations on The White… depending on whether you’re goin’ for a whole bunch of delicious pan-sized fish for eatin’… or whether you’re lookin’ for… The Monster!
Whole kernel corn, marshmallows, and worms all work especially good of them tasty little fryin’-up critters… but for The Monster, you use a crawdad, (especially a “peeler”…one who has just shed its shell.. called molting), or an artificial lure. With the smaller ones, you can catch one every five minutes or so when the water is right. With The Monster… you might fish all day and not catch one fish! But if you do… a five-plus pound trout is a beauty to behold! It’s one of Gods greatest beauties in the eyes of a fisherman.
Now… enough background… let’s get on with the story!
Pat and myself had gotten down to the river at dawn… with a light fog hangin’ over the cold water until the Sun would finally burn it off a couple of hours later. We launched our boat, started our motor… and drifted off in search of our prey. There are occasionally deep impressions or “holes” in the White… holes where the Monsters live…and Armstrong Hole was our destination. It took almost half an hour of no-fishin’ just to get there! The waters are so clear that you can actually float over a hole… see the Monster lying in there waiting for it’s breakfast to float by… and then circle back around upriver to anchor off and fish in that one depression for that one or two big fish.
We got situated… cast our lines gently into the calm waters… let it drift slowly over the giant fish… and waited.
OK. We do it again… waiting for that incredible tug on our lines… wondering deep inside which of us would feel that heart-pounding strike first!
OK, maybe we’ll change tactics and switch to a Rapala lure to coax the sleeping giant from his home. A quiet cast… a small splash… and the minnow-like lure floats gently over the hidden Monster!
All right, gang! This goes on for more than two hours… with not bite one! We break out some coffee and sandwiches and continue to await that big moment.
The Monster ain’t buyin’ it!
We eventually hear another boat motor headed in our direction. It turns out to be Paul… a friend of ours who owned the Cotter Boat Dock… and he is already plastered! With him is one of his guides named Junior, (Junior has no arms… and drives the boat motor using his feet! Truth.). They are just passing by… on their way downstream to the Buffalo River, but when they see Pat and I fishin’ they decide to pull over to say hi. We can tell that Paul has been on the receiving end of a bottle for a while… and while we’re talkin’ to him, he tries to get the snarls out of his fishing reel. He’s pulling out line by the handfuls… and eventually dumps it and his hook with an old dried-up crawdad still on it into the water so the current will pull it out and he can rewind it back to his reel.
Do I even have to finish this damn story?
Can I just stop now?
Yeah, I guess I’ve gone this far… I might as well finish it!
A mighty splash explodes out of the still waters, and drunken Paul is almost yanked out of his boat! Instead of letting the fish taste the bait before setting the hook, ol’ Paul just jerks the Hell out of the thing!
The line goes slack. Well, thinks we… he sure lost that one!
Not the Truth!
A Monster comes jumping out of the water, tryin’ his best to escape this capture. These fish get this big ONLY because they are so damn smart! While this fish does everything right that he knows how to do… poor Paul does everything wrong! He has so much line in the water that he throws down his pole to the bottom of the boat… and starts tryin’ to pull in line with his hands! Pat and I are caught between laughing our asses off… and cheering Paul on as he dances around the flat-bottomed john boat in a drunken jig while fighting with this fish!
After about four or five minutes of comedy…it’s over
THIRTEEN F***IN’ POUNDS! It was Paul’s biggest fish ever!
Now here comes the goofy part. Paul wants to have this fish mounted for his trout dock display… but he’s got to meet someone downriver at a certain time… therefore he can’t go back to his dock upstream to put the fish in the freezer until such time as he can get it to the taxidermist.
Pat and I, after hours of no-catchin’ fish, not only watch Paul catch OUR Monster accidentally… BUT NOW WE HAVE TO STOP FISHING TO HELP PAUL WITH OUR FISH!
We pull up anchor, and slowly putt-putt our way all the way back upstream to the Cotter Boat Dock, where we place this thirteen pound rainbow in the waiting hands of the fellows at the bait shop there. Thirteen pounds.
Paul, I don’t know where you are these days… but I did manage to snag one good thing that day. This story.
Well gang, thanks again for always being around for the reading of these little ditties. I hope to see ya’ll again real soon, and maybe… just maybe… we’ll hook a Monster together.
Copyright © Rickie Lee Reynolds