"What are you doing this afternoon? I'm thinking about hitting the water and have an open seat if you're in the area." After absolutely no thought at all, I told Greg "The Natural" Poort that I would indeed be filling that once open seat, allowing me an opportunity to fish a lake I hadn't even laid eyes on since I graduated high school from the great Joshua, Texas. "If you'll meet me around 3:15, we can fish until 6:00 or so and should have a one man limit. I can't promise you they'll all be huge, but I'm excited to get out there if that says anything." Trying not to not let myself sound too much like a gitty school girl, "dude, I haven't felt a thump in two weeks, and I just want to catch a crappie."
We hit Benbrook running full speed from a ramp that I later found out was the hottest spot for guys to meet other guys in the surrounding areas. Looking at Greg, "I guess that explains all the weird looks I was getting. I just figured I needed to make sure to lock my doors and hide my stuff, I didn't realize I was the new item on the menu. I'm grade A beef, you know?"
We're scooting along at a good clip, and I can tell by the straight line we're running that the captain knows exactly where we are going to start our search. Looking around the craft, I quickly decide that I like this boat. It's a no frills aluminum shell with all the money tied up into good electronics and a good trolling motor. My kind of ride. With a side image on front, and another on the console, the fish on this lake don't seem to stand much of a chance. I've never fished with Greg. I've never even met the guy until today, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I am in for a treat on this Monday afternoon.
We pull up to a tree in deep water, around 18-20ft, nosing into a 3-5mph south wind, allowing us to fish off the left side of the boat. The captain has a tandem rig set up with some dark colored Bobby Garland baits, and I've got a Thump Jumper in the Swamp Thang color. Both of us are ready to strike. "They're usually anywhere from 12-18ft down." With an immediate hook up from the front of the boat, I can't help but trust him. My line twitches before I ever get to twelve feet and immediately we have two keepers. "Man that felt good!" His pole is resting towards the front of the tree, while mine is around the trunk. Both spots are producing fairly quickly and it doesn't take long until we have eight fish in the boat. Not two minutes goes by without another keeper coming aboard, and we move to the next spot. I like this guy already.
We move from spot to spot, pulling out fish and telling general "get to know you" stories. "How much do you think I gave for that engine back there?" I look back to see the horsepower, knowing full well that it can scream across a lake judging by the ride out here. "$500?" No. "$250?" No. "$200?" "I gave $125 for that engine to a guy awhile back and have never had a single problem." "Bull$@#%. We were going faster than what I run my guide boat and you're telling me you only paid $125 for that engine? Man, I'm impressed."
We have both broken off on the same branch, I retie the same little frog bait I was using while Greg ties back on a tandem rig with Thump Chubbies. An exact color doesn't seem to matter much, but we're both sticking with natural shades instead of bright neons. We wedge up between two trees, over a little bit of brush that has been planted between the two trunks. "Look at this graph, Lane." I lean over to check out the 2D picture, and let me tell you it was chop full of squiggly lines. I mean this thing looked like like a seismograph. "A lot of times they'll be under the part where the branch meets...grunt." A quick shift in the boat that infamous guttural sound from someone who just set the hook makes me look up to see a bent pole. Greg's fish apparently gets the whole school in a frenzy and we put another big mess in the live well.
A small storm pops up to the north, and the winds do a quick 180 which are now blowing stiffly from the northeast. "This may not be good. We'll fish for awhile, but if it gets stronger we need to go in quickly." "I agree, I'm having a ball but I want to fry these fish with oil, not with lightning." I do admire the surroundings though. We have four deer on our right, a storm out in front, and crappie right below us. America the beautiful, with the Lord being the artist.
This afternoon has been such a well needed treat. I am wore out from moving my warehouse to a different location, I am tired of a tough summer bite on my home lake, and with one month left of summer, I need fall to get here quickly. This afternoon though, I met a man who I've only known over the phone and through jig orders, who time after time we wanted to fish together but couldn't line our schedules up. He showed me what it's like to crappie fish on a lake that I hadn't seen in twelve years, and never once got to seriously crappie fish. I got to fish deep timber for the first time, and got to be acquainted with a little known foe to me, the white crappie. I may have crappie fished for a living on Cedar Creek, but I'll chalk this one up to a good captain, a future friend and beginner's luck.
We kept 35, lost 4-5 keepers on the swing in, and threw back another 10-12 that we didn't want to measure.
I had to get permission form Bill Muntz and Kirk Grounds to use this bait.