Long Weekend Deals Tough Hand

Sep 03, 2014

TJ Shands with a big blue catfish from the Ohio River near East Prairie, MO

I don’t necessarily believe that karma is a legitimate force of nature, but I’d like to think that those of us who go out of our way to be kind and helpful to others have a bit more good fortune. I have been told by more than one person that I have the uncanny ability to walk through a pig farm and come out smelling like a rose, and I always attribute that to holding the door open for people, being friendly to everyone, and trying my best to be a genuinely nice fellow. Well, apparently I let the door fall on a little old lady at some point last week because my weekend was riddled with woes!

Every Labor Day weekend we host my in-laws and niece from Memphis at Reelfoot Lake. It’s my niece’s birthday and she gets to hang out with her cousin (my son) Jameson, my wife and her mom get to spend time together, and me and Romel, my father-in-law, carry the heavy burden of constant fishing! It’s a trip we all look forward to and we always have a good time.

We arrived ahead of our guests and found that the central air unit would not kick on. I have fixed and worked on many things in my life, but central air units are not on the list. After a few hours of sweaty trial and error, I was able to get a hold of my buddy Robbie Mays, all-around handyman extraordinaire from Portageville, and he walked me through a couple steps, which resulted in ice cold air in a matter of minutes!

I had a few magazine articles coming up that needed new pictures, so my father-in-law and I were off to chase crappie. No dice. We awoke Saturday to an alleged front bringing rain in from the south, but it stalled out just below us. Not wanting to venture too far from home with the lingering threat of storms, we thoroughly fished the south bank and tried some of the areas I’d caught black crappie a month ago, without getting a single bite.

It rained throughout the afternoon, and late that evening we eased out into open water and put 16 minnows in the water, trying to drum up a bite, but again we were blanked. Romel made some catfish jugs out of pool noodles a few years back, and I thought it would be fun to strap glowsticks to the opposite side the line was on and set them afloat in the dark. I managed to talk the entire family into climbing in the boat and joining me on what turned out to be a wonderful moonlit trip.

It didn’t take long for a hungry channel catfish to smell the bait and latch on to one of our jugs. It was a sight to see, the bright glowstick flinging back and forth and shooting through the pitch-black backdrop. The kids had a blast (as did the adults) chasing down the neurotic glowing noodle and netting the fish!

Sunday came and went without a crappie, and our only hope of sacking up filets seemed to be catfishing. We went back out at night, with new glowsticks and a much brighter moon, and had a blast again, right up until I hit a stump with my trolling motor that rendered it useless. We still got back to the house without much trouble, only to find that the sewage had backed up in the toilet and bathtub and flooded the bathroom. I have never been under our trailer at the lake, but I have to tell you, outside of the 5,000 spider-crickets, it’s not that bad! The rest is, well, not something to be shared with mixed company, but it was rough!

Regardless of the fishless (crappie-wise) weekend and the technical difficulties, we all had a great time spending time with each other! Now I just have to get my trolling motor working and the stink bait washed off the boat before the Ben Kruse 18 Fore Life tournament next Saturday at Wappapello Lake!