Bored! That’s what I was – totally, absolutely, unequivocally bored. I had been sitting on the aluminum seat of my johnboat for 2-1/2-hours in the glow of my Coleman lantern. I had watched shad minnows swim around and around under the light until my eyes were closing. I had observed bugs falling into the light and shad feeding on them I already had imagined sea monsters coming up through the light. I had tempted to visualize a bite on my line and even the hook, just in case I did have a bite, which I didn’t. Also three times I already had daydreamed all of the great dreams I had dreamed before in my lifetime.
If I had been fishing by myself, I either would have returned to the boat landing and gone to sleep, or I would have slept in the bottom of my boat. However, when you’re with a fishing buddy, you must keep up the mask of intense fishing – not so much for yourself – but to convince your buddy that you are as tough as he is, or at least that you think you’re as tough as he is. Finally I broke the silence with the words, “This is about as much fun as watching water being poured out of a pitcher, isn’t it?”
My fishing friend didn’t want to admit his disappointment. So, he made a valiant attempt to lift up my spirits, saying, “John, don’t give up so easily. The crappie will start biting in a minute.” But he didn’t believe the lie any more because he had told it than I did since I’d heard it. We had been sitting in the middle of a lake on an old creek channel drop-off from dusk until the present 1:30 am the next day with no crappie success. We had drowned or otherwise caused to die two dozen of the eight dozen minnows we had in our minnow bucket. We had caught exactly five, 4-finger size crappie, two 3-finger size crappie and one crappie that there wasn’t enough space between its eyes and its tail to justify calling the fish a fingerling.
“The boys at the plant said that if we fished all night, that at sometime during the night the crappie would move in here,” Joe, my angling buddy, informed me. “If we just keep on fishing, I feel sure we’ll catch one.” However, there comes a point in time when you have fished long and hard enough without any results that even an encouraging word provides as much comfort as fingernails being drug across a blackboard. Suddenly Joe’s rod nearly jumped out of the back end of the boat. Although he grabbed the handle of the rod with one hand and seized the reel with the other, the drag squalled as the line fed out. “That’s not a crappie,” I shouted as I dove for a second rod about to go overboard and snatched the line of the third rod that was beginning to tip-up.
Drags were squealing, and line was knifing through the water. In less than five heartbeats, all three pieces of monofilament line were plaited into a neat row under the surface. The fish were going around and around, entangling every line in the boat. When we finally retrieved what was left of lines, crappie rigs and minnows that were over the side, we discovered that we had three white bass in a 1-1/2-pound range and one huge mess. Catching white bass is fun when you’re fishing for white bass. However, when there are four or five lines out at night that the white bass strike, tangling all of your gear in the process so that you must cut lines and retie crappie rigs, then white bass fishing isn’t enjoyable.
Now I was bored and tired but also completely aggravated with having to unravel yards and yards of monofilament from around the white bass, cutting off the crappie rigs that each consisted of a line with a weight on the bottom, two wires extending out past the main line with lines and hooks tied onto them and then retying the crappie rigs to the rods to fish for papermouths once more. Normally I’m not a complainer, but after a hard day at work, I had looked forward with great anticipation to packing my Coleman ice chest full of slab-size crappie. All I had to show though for my hard, dedicated fishing was a sore backend, tangled line and two dozen fewer minnows than I had when I started fishing. After the disaster of the white bass was finally over, and we again had rigged our rods and lowered our minnows back to just off the bottom, I once again assumed my crappie-watching position – legs apart straddling the seat, elbows on my knees, back bent with chin in hand and eyes fixed on the line.
To learn much more about crappie fishing, get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks and some print books, “Crappie: How to Catch Them Fall & Winter,” “Crappie: How to Catch Them Spring and Summer,” “Catch Cold Water Crappie Now” and “Catch Crappie All Year: Fishing a Single Pole, Using No Boat and Farming Crappie,” click here. To receive for free the “Crappie Catchers’ Cookbook,” by John and Denise Phillips that offers free recipes, click here.