Dear Kate and Wills:
First of all, my sincere apology for not getting back with you guys sooner. The postman, not realizing that I am a man of superior breeding, impeccable education and sterling intellect (with more than a few drops of royal blood of my own), apparently thought your wedding invite was junk mail from the Franklin Mint.
I only received it yesterday, and that’s just because Irma, the lady who works behind the counter on Saturdays when she’s not havin’ one of her early-morning “migraines,” saw the Royal Seal and recognized the genuine British postage stamps.
She kept the stamps for her collection. I don’t mind, though, seeing as how she is an avid philanderer with a huge album of postage stamps that she has philandered over the years.
Anyhow, by the time she got it to me I already had the calendar blocked in for a four-day trip to Lake Livingston. I’m sure you understand. I could not, in good conscience, turn down some of the best yellow cat fishing of the year. As is customary with select locals like me who are burdened with the obligations of high society, royalty and the like, I had no option other than to accept an invite from my esteemed associate Bubba, Baron of Penwaugh Slough.
I’m real sorry if this left you two holding the tab for an extra plate. I know what it’s like when a young couple gets hitched and money is super-tight. I’ll make it up to you; I promise.
Baron Bubba, by the way, is extending a special invite to the two of you to join us next month when the white bass get to schooling on Lake Livingston. The official invite will come to you on one of the Baron’s new postcards, depicting the newest of the elite fleet of mobile homes that he has purchased in order to upgrade the Penwaugh Slough estate. He also recently acquired a brand-new pontoon boat, a princely 24-footer that will allow the two of you to dunk minnows for crappie in grand fashion. (It makes a great platform for midnight skinny dippin’, too, so long as you stay out of the slough. The ‘gators won’t bother you, but there’s way too many snakes in there for me to go dangling my jewels in the water after dark.)
Sadly, I must remind you that despite the fact that we really enjoyed it last go-round, “noodling” for catfish is one of the few things that is still illegal here in East Texas. You can only legally noodle for whiskerfish in Oklahoma, a state that hardly merits the visitation of a couple of your stature. Please forgive me for even mentioning it.
But worry not, my dear Wills. We shall catch plenty of flatheads on hook-and-line, in true gentleman’s fashion, with a combination of limblines, trotlines and jug lines.
If you two could bring a few dozen of those gold Aberdeen crappie hooks like the ones you had last time, that’d be awesome. I’ve tried, but all you can get around here is the gold-plated variety.
Come to think of it, if you’ve got some of those one-ounce gold slab spoons you mentioned, bring those, too. Nothing on the market beats the fish-attracting flash of 12-carat gold. Truth be known, the 3-ounce gold slabs are far better for big fish.
I’ll swap you out some of my hand-tied bluegill flies for a batch of those 3-ouncers. And I don’t make that kind of a deal with just anybody. Folks around here have been known to trade an entire case of Old Milwaukee for just one of my custom Bohemian Bottom-Bouncers. That fly makes a Royal Coachman look like a drowned rat.
Baron Bubba and I were looking through some of the most recent gossip rags last night, and couldn’t help but notice the 28-gauge side-by-sides the two of you were carrying while pheasant hunting last fall. Those are some darned pretty shotguns, kids. But I have to tell it like it is: They’re gonna be way too light for spring turkey.
The Baron is having a pair of synthetic-camo-stocked Mossberg 10-gauge pumps fitted for the two of you, just in case you make it down here while the big Toms are still strutting. Put a laser sight on those suckers, screw in a turkey choke and you’ll be taking the heads clean off of gobblers better’n 50 yards away.
All the same, I think you’d be wise to have the royal entourage pack those 28-gauge Italian double-barrels for you, just to be on the safe side. A $35,000 hand-engraved Perazzi side-by-side makes a damn fine scattergun for squirrels. Remember, the East Texas squirrel season runs through May, and right now the cat squirrels are thicker than the Queen’s ankles after a 3-mile hike.
Speakin’ of Liz, tell her howdy for us. That woman can track a hog, I guarantee you. Stickin’ her nose in the air all the time like she does, the old gal can sniff out a boar like a blueblood bloodhound. Real handy with a .30-.30, too, and a hell of a lot of fun when she’s got a few beers in her. Gotta tell you, though, guys, that’s one woman that you don’t want mad at you. Then again, considering that you’ve already seen her dress Chuck down a notch or two in the past, I reckon the you two are already more than aware of that fact.
Charlie’s never been too much into hog hunting. But he’s a fox-huntin’ fool, and I ain’t talking “shoot and release.” That’s a damn fine pack of dogs he’s got there. No blueticks in the bunch, though, best as I can tell, and that don’t make much sense. There’s gotta be a pile o’ big ol’ boar coons runnin’ around on the Royal Estate Riverbottom, right down from where Liz runs her trotlines.
Blue-blood blue cats. No place but England.
Baron Bubba’s wife, Baroness Bertha Hickner, daughter of Ernest, Viscount of Vidor, has set aside a special cabin for you two if you prefer non-wheeled accommodations. Around here, if it ain’t got an axle or two beneath the linoleum, we can’t sleep in it. It just don’t feel right. But then again, we aren’t the future king and queen of England, so we get it if you prefer something a bit more stationary.
This cabin is the nuts, guys. The Baron went all-out. He musta spent three hours walkin’ the aisles of the Wal-Mart in Jasper. Nothin’ but the best, no sirree.
It has an air-conditioner (with a remote control, mind you) and dark screens on the windows that make it super-private, and probably will keep that sicko Lester from goin’ all peepin’ Tom on ya’ (you have full permission to put a 1-7/8-ounce load of bird shot in his butt if he does. Don’t worry; he’s done been warned.)
There’s a big-screen color TV, again, complete with remote control (the Baron got it from Wal-Mart during a Super-Saver happy-face close-out sale). There’s a box of foil so y’all can wrap up the rabbit ears good ‘n thick for some really great reception after 10:00 or so. If it’s cloudy and the wind’s out of the east, you can get the ABC station in Lake Charles and catch reruns of Gilligan’s Island and Knight Rider.
I’ve saved the best for last. There’s a brand-new flush toilet, and so long as you open the valve all the way it don’t make noise all night long.
Wills and Kate, I’m talking everything. This place ain’t the House of Windsor, but it rocks. And you guys are gonna love the fish-cleaning table. It’s only 50 feet from the back door, and Kate can drag a water hose back there and have those whiskerfish skinned and on their way to a skillet faster than a fox can jump in a rabbit hole.
I hesitate to ask this for reasons of breaking protocol, but I cannot resist. If you can’t give me the recipe, will you at least bring a few jars of Prince Charles’ Royal Cheesebait? Camilla was furious with me for asking last time, and hasn’t spoken to me since. But hey; a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, and I bet she doesn’t even remember that wet coon dog climbin’ into her bed.
You can’t blame the dog, you guys. That couch fold-out bed was ol’ Duke’s favorite sleepin’ spot, and he wasn’t used to the idea of someone else getting’ in it. Duke is real sorry he acted poorly, though, and he promises not to jump up on Kate and mess up her fancy fishin’ dress with muddy paw prints when she visits. (But he can’t help the slobberin’, guys … like I said, he’s a dog.)
Especially for your squirrel hunt, I’ve commissioned a leading American designer, Wrangler of North Carolina, to make you two a tailored matching set of outfits in the Royal Realtree Advantage pattern. When y’all get all snuggled up and hunkered down against a big ol’ oak tree way back in the riverbottom those cat squirrels will have an easier time seeing the fleas hopping around on Duke’s happy tail than they will spotting you. Once Kate get’s ‘em skinned and dressed out, we’ll get Baroness Bertha to fire up her big black stewpot and make some of that diced squirrel stew that you guys raved about so much last time. We’ll even set aside a big ‘ol doggie bag for Chuck (don’t know why, but Camilla turns her nose up at the stuff. Must’ve picked up the habit from her mother-in-law.) Hey, more for him, right?
I don’t know if you’ll have time, being newlyweds and all, and being on a limited budget, but if you can spend a few extra days, Sir Melvin, Marquis of McFaddin Beach, says you two can use his RV and do a little surf fishing if you like. With the right wind y’all can be casting plugs in the first gut at daybreak and whacking trout fillets before breakfast. The skeeters can be a little rough before the sun gets up, but Melvin has you covered on the insect repellent. (It’s in the top right shelf, next to the Everclear. Melvin says help yourself to both.)
Bring the royal waders. And not the Wellingtons, either. They won’t get you past the first sandbar. A good pair of royal stingray leggings is probably a good idea, too, and a couple'a bottles of royal sunscreen. A royal whiskbroom for sweepin’ the sand outa’ the tent is real important, too. And a small shovel and some royal toilet paper … you definitely don’t wanna’ forget that.
Two nights campin’ on the beach, rollin’ around in the sand and relaxin’ and makin’ whoopee in a nice, big tent should have y’all ready for a triumphant return to England. I know you guys hate all that bowin’ and circumstantial pompenstance, but at least you’ll be chilled out and ready to handle the hordes of pomparrotzy.
Again, I’m real sorry about missin’ the wedding and all. Looks to me like a good time was had by all. But aside from the fact that I couldn’t let such good catfish action go by unanswered, I seriously suspect the palace guards would have pitched a fit about me trying to bring Duke into Westminster Abbey.
That dog goes where I go, whether it’s to the Biggie Mart in Scroggins or some high-falutin’ nuptial affair in Paris, Vienna, Moravia or some other far-flung town in Texas. A dog is truly a man’s best friend.
You remember that, Wills. Kate’s a fine-looking little filly, and a damn good catfish-skinner to boot. And I ain’t never seen a girl handle a trotline the way she does. Just mention “yellow cats” and those movie star eyes of hers light up like a pair of gas-powered Coleman lanterns on a Trinity River sandbar at midnight.
This ain’t nothin’ personal, Katie, so I hope you won’t take it that way. But Will, man to man, you need to know that the days are gonna come … and you have to trust me on this one … when your bride is gonna be in a mood that’ll freeze the palace moat. When that day comes, and you and your she aren’t seeing eye-to-eye, you’re going to be mighty happy to have a coon dog by your side kinda like I have Duke (or at least a Labrador, seein’ as how they don’t smell too hound-dog-like, unless they’re wet).
You’ll scratch her behind the ears, rub her tummy and pat her head, and pretty soon she’ll settle down and lay down right beside you, right then and there. Then, sure as shootin’, that dog’ll do the same. He’ll come over, too, and you can scratch his ears and pat his head, and rub his tummy and before you know it the three of you will be all happy-like, pattin’ each other’s bellies and ear-rubbin’ back and forth and talkin’ all excited-like about runnin’ trotlines, huntin’ hogs with a good pack of dogs, shootin’ coots and catching a mess of grinnel for some of that prime Louisiana caviar.
Kate and Wills, you two know that you’re welcome down here any day, any week, any month … well, exceptin’ the first two weeks of deer season, but that kinda’ goes without sayin’.
“Til then, keep your line wet and your powder dry.
Most respectfully yours, your humble servant …
Larry Bozka, Esquire
P.S: Hell of a weddin’. Did you guys save me and the boys any cake?
Larry Bozka Coastal Anglers
Contributing Writer/Saltwater - Tide Magazine, Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine, Texas Sporting Journal