With Lake Ray Hubbard being between 7-8 feet low, most of my crappie holes have disappeared. If we don't get some rain soon, I'm not sure how I will get to the beds. Here is a crappie tale from better times. Enjoy:
The Crappie King: Jiggin’ with Johnny
I was greeted by an elderly man at the Shores golf course on an early summer morning, “Hey young fella,” he said, “lookin’ for someone to play with?”
“Sure,” I replied,
“Jump on the cart and let’s go.” The grey-haired man appeared to close to eighty-years old but he was amazingly spry. He picked up his bag, secured it to the cart, and an unlikely friendship was forged.
“Johnny Fragese,” he said holding his hand out.
“Nice to meet you John,” I replied, “I’m Gary O’Callaghan.”
“Have you been a member here long?”
“Just a few years ─ I moved here from Chicago a couple of years ago and shortly after that I discovered Lake Ray Hubbard and the Rockwall area. My wife and I really liked it, so we bought a house on the lake. This place has everything I love to do: tennis, golf, and fishing.”
“So you like fishing?”
“Love it,’ I said.
“Good ─ I have a surprise for you on the back nine.”
John had teed off and hit a nice little mini-draw that ended up about one hundred and seventy yards in the middle of the fairway.
“It looks like you have played some golf before,” I told him.
“I’ve played for many years son; I used to be a pro.”
“You mean like a club pro?”
“No ─ a pro-pro. I won the Canadian Open in 1969.”
“Are you bull-shittin me!”
“No. Beat Nicklaus by one stroke.”
I had met many bull-shitters on the golf course before so I wasn’t easily fooled. Perhaps the old boy did win a tournament, but more than likely it was a club championship. He was either delusional and forgot to take his pills, or he was pulling my chain. Didn’t really matter much to me anyway; he was a nice old guy that was probably lonely and was reliving his glory days on a magnificent sun-soaked Texas morning.
We played through the front nine with the old man keeping a running narrative of his life. He told about the time he played in the British Open and met the Queen of England, and about the time he was considered for the coaching job for the U.S. Ryder Cup team. He told me that he had played golf with everybody from President Eisenhower to Ben Hogan and I pretended that I was listening.
Are you bull-shitting me!!
The ongoing biography continued on the back nine until we reached the number twelve hole, which had a pond in front of the tee box. “Let’s take a break,” Johnny said. He got out of the cart, went to his bag, and pulled out two telescopic crappie poles, which when extended, reached out ten feet. Tying on two chartreuse jigs John instructed me: “Walk along the side of the pond and drop that jig right between the reeds. If a crappie is in there spawning, you will get a bite immediately. If nothing happens move to the next spot looking for any pockets between the reeds. Keep moving and we’ll fill this cart up with some pan-sized crappie: best eating fish there is.”
I figured Johnny’s delusional story telling had transferred from golf to fishing (a natural transgression), but I was always ready to drop a line so I followed his directions. Walking into knee deep reeds on the side of the pond I heard a rustling beneath my feet. Figuring I had scared some field mice I dropped my jig into the first pocket that I saw. Bang! The rod pulled down hard and I lifted up the biggest crappie I had ever seen. I took the fish off, flipped him on the shore and moved on looking for the next pocket. Once again I heard the rustling beneath my feet, found a pocket, and pulled out another fat female. Johnny was working one side of the pond and I worked the other. By the time we were done, we must have had forty keepers. I could hardly believe my eyes as I gathered the fish and threw them in the basket in the back of the cart. “Let’s call off the golf and go clean these fish,” John said.
Driving the cart back to the club house I began to wonder if the old boy really was telling me tall tales about the golf. He certainly wasn’t kidding me about the fishing. “Hey Johnny, what was all that rustling in the high grass beneath our feet that I was hearing?” I asked.
“That was the water moccasins son; they like to nest in the dead grass.”
“Are you bull-shitting me!!!
From G.O Fishin':Tall Tales from the Tackle Box
Available at Amazon.com/books/garyocallaghan