Rain splattered on the canvas covering and ran off and down in little rivulets onto the gravel padding in Campsite A-34, where the Old Crappie Gang had pitched camp for their 38th annual fall outing on Cave Run Lake.
Underneath, a gas lantern hissed at the darkness and drove it back enough that they could see their hole cards. There were five and at times six of them huddled around a small card table. They argued over who had not anted up for another round of nickel-ante poker. They wanted to get that settled so they could get back to throwing insults at each other and continue a debate over who was the best crappie fisherman in camp.
The undisputed champ, Boyd Noble, of Corbin, who, sad to say, is now the late Boyd Noble, was the one being accused by the others of failing to ante up. He denied it but threw in his money anyway. Then he reminded them of the white crappie he caught from Cave Run five years ago that was nearly 19 inches long and weighed about 3.5 pounds. It’s mounted on the wall at his home.
Herb Maggard had caught a black crappie after that that had – after stretching its tail and its lower lip to the tearing point – measured 15 and 3/8ths inches, just good enough to beat Clowell “C.G.” Barker’s best catch that had measured 15 and 1/4th inches.
The world’s record crappie was caught over 50 years ago in Mississippi and weighed 5 pounds, 3 ounces. Both Kentucky and Ohio have recorded crappie weighing at least 41/2 pounds.
With those issues thoroughly rehashed, they turned their attention back to the poker game. By 9 p.m., with the campfire gone out, everybody was ready for bed. Joe Melvin, with the Middletown (Ohio) Muskie Gang, camped close by over in A-27, took home all the money, raking it off the table and into a Styrofoam coffee cup.
Crayton Stevens and I have plans to launch my BassTracker at Burke’s Point east of Wheelersburg this coming week and check out the sauger fishing in the tailwaters of the Greenup Dam.
If these great-fighting, good-eating 15- to 17-inch cousins to the walleye have begun their runs upstream to the dam some of the best fishing to be found is in store for fall anglers.
And, of course, there are dangers, too, in those swift and swirling waters that fishermen must be aware of and take certain safety precautions.
More on that subject later.
TEDDY ON IMMIGRANTS
Immigration is a hot topic of debate these days, whether it comes in town halls or from anglers and hunters on the water and in the woods. I’ve used before the following by one our most popular former presidents, so I must like it:
Theodore Roosevelt had his ideas on the subject when he spoke in 1907 about being an American. It would seem his remarks still ring with truth today, more than 100 years later.
“In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American…There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag… We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language… and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”
NO TIME TO FISH?
If you’re far too busy to take time to fish, maybe you better slow down and read again Emily Dickinson’s (1830-1886) poem, “Because I Could Not Stop For Death.”
The first two stanzas:
Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The carriage held but just ourselves –
We slowly drove – he knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility.
Reach G. SAM PIATT at [email protected] or (606) 932-3619.