Milo Yield: Spring fishing trip brings a good time with a good friends
A few weeks ago, one of my oldest and dearest friends, ol’ Albie Kirkey from New Mexico, came for his annual spring fishing week in the Flint Hills with me.
He and I, and another old mutual friend, Claude Hopper, from Pratt, Kan., fished on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Then Claude went home and wuz replaced by Albie’s son, Quirkie Kirkey, and his son Junior from Texas. They fished from Monday through Thursday.
Folks, let me tell you, we had a great time fishing, eating and BS-ing. For a group of close friends like us, it’s impossible to go through a week of fishing without humorous and unusual things happening. I’ll tell you about some of them.
First, let me say that all the recent rains and runoff dropped the water temperatures enuf that none of the fish — bass, crappie, channel catfish or bluegill — had spawned. That’s unusual for this time of year.
That’s why probably the most unusual thing that happened wuz that one of us caught a nice bass in the 3-pound range and the first thing we noticed wuz the huge belly of the critter. We commented about how many fish eggs were in that belly.
Well, imagine our surprise when we filleted that fish and discovered that her belly was indeed full of eggs, but the biggest reason for her distended belly wuzn’t fish pregnancy, but fish gluttony.
That female bass had recently swallowed an entire green water snake that wuz longer than the fish by several inches. The snake wuz as big around as my middle finger and close to 2-feet long. After engulfing such a humongous meal, we all wondered what possessed that fish to bite on a tiny plastic grub lure. It couldn’t have been hunger.
Next on our list of unusual fishing stuff wuz the huge soft-shelled turtle that Albie caught one day. It’s carapace wuz at least 14 inches long and a foot wide. It wuz so big, we had to shoot the turtle to get it off his line. That’s when someone commented that soft-shelled turtles were supposed to be the best of the freshwater turtles to eat. So, one thing led to another and pretty much on a dare we decided to butcher the turtle and eat it along with our fish when we fried them up.
I admit I’ve never butchered a turtle. Neither had anyone else in our little group. But, through the bloody and gory chaos of a chaotic group effort, we managed to whack, whittle, coax and scrape some turtle meat from the carcass. Rest assured, our method was unorthodox.
I’ll add, when we had our fish fry that evening, we all ate some turtle meat. But Junior, who is a picky eater, just loved it and scarfed up every last morsel of turtle meat from the platter.
Perhaps the pure funniest thing that happened during our week of fishing didn’t actually happen to us, but we got to be “involved” witnesses. When we arrived at one of our favorite fishing waters, a friend of mine, ol’ X. Railey Roeder, wuz there with his little plastic two-seater fishing boat preparing to take some Flint Hills visitors from Denmark fishing.
When Railey loaded up his battery and trolling motor to take his Danish friend fishing, he commented (since it wuz a north-windy day) that he wuz glad he had a new battery becuz it would be a bad day to run out of “juice” on the water.
Duh! He should have known the fishing gods overheard him. He and his friend had been on the water probably half an hour — time enuf for them to get to the north end of the water — when they began drifting southward and trying to “row” with their arms and hands toward the launch point.
“Where are your oars?” I yelled at Railey.
“In my pickup truck,” he yelled back dejectedly.
Well, the intrepid fishing duo failed to “hand-oar” to shore. I also failed in throwing/floating their oars to them.
So, I ended up getting my own oars from my pickup truck, wallowing through a hundred yards of waist-deep bromegrass, flailing through the bank-side brush and finally managed to get my oars to them when they finally hit the distant bank.
With my oars, they retrieved their own wayward floating oars and finally made it back against the wind to the launch point.
It will be awhile before I let Railey forget that two oars in the truck are not the equivalent to two oars in the boat. But, heck, the story wuz worth the effort.
Our final day of fishing wuz great for everyone but me. Albie, Quirkie and Junior landed more than 30 nice bass and crappie. As for me, I had one fish break my line and four more nice bass jump and spit the lure back at me. The net result? I put nary a fish on the stringer all day long.
I told the guys it wuz a poor way to treat their fishing guide. But the truth of the matter is that my lack of fishing success that day was mainly caused by my lack of effort and my ineptness with the rod and reel. But even failure makes a good story among friends.
To top off the week, as soon as the fishing crew left, I came down with a doozy of a spring cold. Guess it wuz the fishing gods way of punishing me for fishing and loafing all week and not working at anything. I truly am not wise enuf to impart any wisdom this week. Have a good ‘un. ❖
I’ve mentioned many times that living in the semi-wilds of the Kansas Flint Hills frequently brings me into unusual contact with wild critters. That proved true again this past week with a big wild bird.