A Tale of Two Fishermen
Story Ronnie Guyton
My first recollection of fishing was of my dad taking me along on one of his bass fishing excursions, as an observer only. Although I never wet a hook, I was hooked. Almost every weekend, my parents would travel to Vernon, Ala., to visit relatives. There was an old country store about halfway there where we usually stopped to buy hand-dipped ice cream cones. While waiting for the cones, they’d let me walk about 50 yards, down to a small creek and “fish” with my self-made bamboo pole tied with some twine. My bait was a little piece of wood … no hooks, mind you. I would take that pole, flip the “bait” into the water a few times, and more often than not, something would explode to the top of the water, and BOOM, my stick and twine would be gone. The intrigue and excitement were indescribable and thus began a lifelong passion for fishing.
Growing up in Columbus, my brother, Gene, most of our buddies and I fished whenever we got a chance. We fished for bass, catfish, bream, crappie and trash fish (as we called it), it didn’t matter. As I got older and had to work for a living, I adapted by fishing before and after work. Got married in my late 20s, and my new bride, Carla, did not understand or appreciate my passion for fishing. It took me a couple of years to break her in, but we finally reached an understanding we could both live with. Now, it drives her crazy when I don’t go fishing.
On a weekend trip to Winona, Carl Brown, my wife’s dad, invited me to crappie fish at Grenada Lake with him. I went thinking it could not be nearly as exciting as bass fishing. Was I ever wrong. We jig fished with crappie poles, something new to me, and we tore those fish up and caught some of the largest crappie I had ever seen. Carl always got a kick out of telling the story of how he converted me to a crappie fisherman. We fished together for more than 30 years.
We fished lakes all over Mississippi and Alabama. It was not unusual for us to catch the limit every time we went (some days we fished twice a day … shh!). Carl kept a journal of how many fish we caught and most years it was in the thousands. Then there were days you could hardly get a bite. He said that was why it was called “fishing” and not “catching.” Carl was in his 80s the last time we fished together. He passed away at 97 and not a day goes by, while fishing, that I don’t think of him or something he said. Carl wasn’t just my father-in-law, he was my friend.
These days, I still fish mostly crappie, but four years ago Mike Burks and I teamed up against Jerry Cohen and Bubba Atkins for a little competitive bass fishing. We fish a different lake each month starting and stopping at a determined time with no break except for lunch. We all dish out a lot of grief, but at the end of the day, we have a great time.
Summer is here, the fish have spawned, and I am ready for them. It’s time for some R, R & R. Rest, Relaxation and Restless nights. For the life of me, I cannot sleep the night before a fishing trip. Oh well, if someone has to do it, may as well be me.