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Outdoors commentary: Real fishing talk

A week after surgery on my left hand and arm I was in a sweet spot - recovered enough to fish but not to mow the lawn. I took advantage of this situation with three brief shore fishing trips to Liberty Reservoir. Despite ewxperimenting with places and techniques my score card for nine hours fishing still showed 21 bass, with smallmouths up to 18 inches and largemouths up to 17 inches, three crappies up to 12½ inches and one yellow perch. I took a couple of bass on Zara Spooks, but the rest of the fish came on weighted Swimmin' Super Flukes, Jr.

I also spent some recuperation time watching fishing shows. With our paper's commitment to truth, I feel it is my duty to set the record straight. The inane conversations and pointless laughter depicted are not the way things are on the water. So what follows are some real world examples, a few of which I may have shared in the course of other stories.

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Harry Pippin, after a poor day of reservoir bass fishing: "Wanna troll?"

Me: "No thanks I have one at home."

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Harry Pippin, sneering as I bring a fly rod aboard his reservoir boat: "Have you become one of those effete, fly fishing snobs?"

Me: I sure hope so. Otherwise I've wasted a ton of time and money."

Me, to Marty Authement, who guides trout fishing in Montana in the summer: "Have you tried bounce nymphing?" (This is a trout fishing technique developed in recent years in Utah and has been featured in national fly fishing magazines.)

Marty: "Tried it once. My wife didn't like it."

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(You may have to think about that one a moment; I did.)

Harry Pippin, complaining about running the foot-controlled, bow mount motor: "I have trouble lifting my leg."

Me: "Doesn't that make it hard to pee?"

Joe Bruce, in the bow of our boat, snagged his fly and tried yanking on his rod several times off the starboard side to free it. I made a cast just as he moved and pulled from the port side. My spinning rod sliced through his expensive fly rod.

Me: "Did I break your rod?"

Joe, through clenched teeth: "Yes"

Me: "Gee, I wonder if I broke mine."

Joe, still through clenched teeth: "I hope so."

As our boat entered a channel of Smith Island, I spotted a "gotta-be-one-there" point and cast a popper that was inhaled on touching down by a 25-inch striper. Writer/editor, Eric Burnley, grimly: "It hurts to say this, but that was impressive." We stopped to make a few more casts, and, after a few good casts, the line slipped off my finger, and the popper flew straight up into the air.

Eric, grinning: "Ah, I feel so much better now."

Joe Bruce, mart Authement and I returned from fishing in the Louisiana marshes on a day when the temperatures plunged over 30 degrees to just above freezing. Camp owner, "How did you do?"

Joe, glumly: "We caught 10." (We'd been averaging two to three times that number in better weather.)

Camp owner: "Well that's 9 ½ more than anyone else."

I was pointedly eyeing a couple of waterspouts on the horizon as our guide prepared to launch our boat on Santee Cooper Lake.

Guide, laconically, after a few more looks and a clearing of the throat by me: "Yeah, we'll have to keep an eye on that."

We were anchored and catching 30 to 45-pound cobia in Pamlico Sound in the boat of a notoriously nasty guide, when a boat buzzed by us at full speed not 20 yards off our bow.

Me: "You took that with equanimity."

Guide: "That's because I know he's going to hit that sandbar."

WHAM!

Clueless boater: "Hey, I'm stuck!" (Protocol, and probably the Coast Guard, demanded we tow him off the bar.)

Guide: "You sure are *******. I figure you're going to stay there the next five hours until the tide comes in."

A bunch of boats were anchored below Conowingo Dam bait fishing and catching nothing. Walking down the shoreline, I noticed a heavy caddis hatch with some swirl underneath. I tied a pair of soft hackle flies on my fly rod and began taking white perch two at a time with an occasional smellmouth bass thrown in. After about a dozen of these doubles, I heard a voice ring out from one of the boats: "Hey, George, that big b****** just caught two more!"

Boyd Pfeiffer, Lonnie Weaver and I were invited to a week's fishing in Canada. Boyd is as notorious as I am for taking everything, so his Grand Caravan was packed to the ceiling more tightly than the blocks on the Great Pyramid. Stopping at Customs on the Canadian side we were asked by a suspicious agent: "What is the purpose of your visit, and do you have any guns or alcohol?"

Boyd: "We're going fishing for a week, and we have no guns or alcohol"

Agent, incredulous: "You're going fishing for a week, and you have no alcohol?

Boyd: "We don't drink. We're outdoor writers."

Me, sarcastically under my breath: "Oh that makes it a lot more believable."

Clearly skeptical, the agent stared at the mountain of equipment jammed in the van for a few long moments before giving up: "Oh, the Hell with it," she concluded, waving us through.

On outdoor writing and dealing with editors:

Keith Kaufman, former editor of The Fisherman, called me: "I finished editing your story. Let's see what we can do with the few words that remain."

I handed printed copy to an editor, who shall remain unnamed, and he immediately began marking it up. Grabbing it out of his hand, I confronted him: "You change everything. If I were Moses coming down from the Mount with the tablets of commandments, you'd immediately start changing them."

Editor: "Well, some of 'em need changin'."

Me: "I can't believe I've had this column for over 19 years!"

Joe Bruce: "Nobody can."

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