Few things out there compete with that annual “Guy’s Trip” – I am fortunate enough to have several of these a year – those trips that become recurring, annual events, with a tendency to become more rooted in tradition with each passing year. They allow for some classic alter-egos to emerge, escaping some of the monotonous patterns and stresses of our daily grind. While just being out-of-doors, afloat or afield does this for many, that whole “Guy’s Weekend” status tends to multiply that factor exponentially… after all, they are technically still “fishing trips” – but with all of the added bonuses that come with a group of guys that spend most of the year looking forward to this weekend so that they can tell a whole new bunch of stories until the next year rolls around. This group of guys is really, really good at that…
This particular adventure is timed each year – usually early in May – to best leverage the most simple and worry-free, minnow-under-a-bobber crappie spawn on-the-banks fishing. The goal being a focus on camaraderie over technique, and making it easier for the members of this posse who do not get to spend as much time doing this. Less time looking for fish, figuring out patterns, etc., and more time just pulling up, dropping a line in, watching your bobber sink, and slinging slabs into the boat.
Well, if you read very many of our posts on this blog, you know finding patterns this spring has not been an easy thing to do. The spawn has been in and out and all over the place, and we had little confidence that Mr. Crappie would be doing what he was “supposed” to be doing.
Our fears were fully manifested in a day one that involved beating the banks to death, to the tune of a mere dozen or so keepers. Not great news, for we were the scout team, with the rest of our crew to arrive tomorrow morning with high expectations that we would have them on the fish in the morning.
The next morning was spent applying similar tactics, trying different banks, varying depths, jigs vs. minnows, etc., and with a frustrating 6 or so keepers, collectively, for 6 guys in two boats by lunch time. Ouch.
Aside: Lunch, which is traditionally ( a very important tradition, at that!) enjoyed at Long Shoal Marina, is a rather important part of our adventure. One absolutely must try the “Bad Girl” here. I give it my absolutely highest recommendation. If, for some crazy reason it is not your thing, all of their burgers are really good, and the service is typically very friendly. Just don’t drink the water. Order lemonade or your favorite adult beverage. 🙂 End Aside
Lunch conversation revolved around a change in strategy. With a fellow KS Outdoorsman’s report from the previous weekend in the back of my mind – and little to lose at this point – we decided we might take a quick peek up along the damn. Last weekend with water running, the damn was pretty hot. With a few boats up around the intake, a few more scattered along the wier, we decide to give it a shot.
One boat on one side, the other across, it did not take too long to find the fish. Even with the Corps pulling only a tiny bit of water, the fish were still up in the same area. We simply pulled up to the buoys, where boats were eventually lined up one next to the other, and cast out. Most of the time you could cast out, let your line swing back down and get ht at the 15-20′ mark. Jigs of nearly any color seemed fine, with a pink and chartreuse/electric chicken being notably good. Minnows were good as well, but not necessary. We finished all 6 limits in about 3-4 hours, went back, and got the evening fish fry started.
This is where the major differences between a “fishing trip” and that annual “Guy’s Weekend” adventure really surface. The annual T-Shirt, the fish fry that punctuates each trip, usually turning crappie into poboys, or in this year’s case, incredible fish tacos… and all of the baggo, the practical jokes, and general horseplay that we don’t really get around to doing back home – all come out in the shape of those alter-egos I mentioned early in the post. It all serves to turn these trips into events, into memories that keep us coming back for more, year after year.
We discuss, sometimes, what we’d do if the fish weren’t biting, what if we came down and didn’t catch a thing. How much would that suck? I think, though… we already know the answer to that. I have a feeling we would all still show up at the cabin – because the fish would be about the last thing we’d worry about missing out on.