Cedar Creek Lake in East Texas is one of the best hybrid striper lakes in the country. I have literally had reels blow up on me while fishing for hybrids in this lake. Right now, the action is slow, but as soon as the water temperature heats the fish will start schooling. In the meantime, here is tale from Cedar Creek. Enjoy:
Mr. Clean: Armor All This
Fishing etiquette usually allows for a multitude of crude behavior when the men get together: drinking excessive quantities of beer, vulgar jokes, and sloppy conduct are generally acceptable. Finding a fisherman that doesn’t abide by these rules is like playing golf with someone who counts every stroke (especially yours). It just ain’t fun!
When my brother and I met Joe Rand for a guided fishing trip to Cedar Creek Lake at Meeks hole-in-the-wall condemned bait shop, we thought we had met someone who fit the bill. He was fat, bearded, and in general, a sloppy son of a bitch. “This guy should be good for a few laughs,” I told Tom.
“I don’t care if this guy is the second coming of Bob Hope; all I want from him is to get us on some fish.”
“Hello, my name is Joe Rand,” the disheveled guide said. “You two must be Tom and Gary.”
“Nice to meet you,” I said, “How’s the fishing been?”
“The fishing has been dynamite; those hybrid stripers are going crazy out there.”
“Good,” I said, “let’s get out of this cesspool of a bait shop and get out on the lake before I discharge my breakfast.”
We followed Joe down to the pier where he had his Ranger boat already in the water. “Don’t step on the seats,” he said, “I just had them Armor-Alled.”
“Now when we get into the fish, things will get a little crazy,” Joe said, “so I have a few ground rules: First thing is that there will be no beer drinking on this boat. I am a devout Christian and I don’t allow it. If you have to urinate, do it now ─ I just had my ride cleaned and polished and I don’t like the smell of urine. When we get on the fish we will more than likely get a few bleeders. If the fish is bleeding, hold him over the side of the boat while you’re taking the hook out. I do not want fish blood on my new carpet, and use a towel when handling the fish. If there is one thing I can’t stand, it’s fish slime in my boat. Any questions?”
We were silently stupefied. “I’ve got one,” I said after I shook off the initial shock, “We like to smoke cigars when we fish.”
“Let me stop you right there. No Smoking! Are you guys ready? ─ let’s go have some fun.”
Joe fired up his engine, made his way out of the marina, and then threw the throttle down on his two hundred horse-powered Mercury engine sending a trail of water behind us.
“I’m surprised this guy allows water to come into his boat,” I said to Tom as Joe shot across the lake.
“He does have some Mr. Clean tendencies, but if he gets us on some fish, I don’t really care. If he doesn’t, let’s throw him in the water and take his boat.”
We fished all morning moving from spot to spot looking for the schooling hybrids to no avail. Around noon time, Joe suggested that we go back to the marina to get some lunch and take a break. I was astonished that anyone so anal would eat in a place where the swine flu probably originated. Pulling up to the pier, Joe once again instructed us not to step on his seat.
After grabbing a quick E-coli burger, Tom and I made our way back to the boat. “I’ll be right there,” Joe said. “I’m going to use the bathroom. Watch the seats when you get in.”
“I’m getting a little tired of this guy and his seats,” Tom said. “What do you think he would say if I took a nice dump in the captain’s seat?”
“I don’t think he would like that; besides, it’s a little crude.”
“Maybe ─ I have another idea. How about if we take that dead carp floating over there in the water and put it in the live well. When he goes to get a shad out for bait, the friggin’ guy will have a heart attack.”
“That’s a 10-4 good buddy: Let’s roll.”
“Keep an eye out for Joe and I’ll try to get that floater with the landing net.”
When I reached out to net the carp, maggots spewed out of its mouth, “AAAAAYYYYYEEEEE!” I screamed while dry heaving.
“What is it?” Tom asked.
“That thing is maggot infested.”
“Cool ─ that will be great special effects for Hazel.”
Holding my nose, I netted the carcass and threw in the live well. “We’ll see how Willy Wonka likes this!”
When Joe returned to the boat he got behind the steering wheel and cranked it up, “What’s that smell?” he asked.
“It’s probably the stench emanating from that rancid bait shop,” I said, “let’s go.”
Joe gassed the boat and stopped somewhere in the middle of the lake. “There is a nice hole down there where the fish should be suspended,” he said. “Let’s bait up some shad and drop.”
“You have the honors,” I said to Joe.
Joe opened the live well and stuck his hand in without looking. When he couldn’t find one, he peered in. “AAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEE!” Joe screamed, sending projectile vomit in head-reeling Exorcist fashion onto his pristine seats.
“So much for the Armor-Alled seats,” Tom said.
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From G.O. Fishin': Tall Tales from the Tackle Box
Available at Amazon.com/books/gary ocallaghan