It is mid-March, 1980-something. It is cold. Cold as in the 20’s.
The late Harold Dotson and I are leaving Cove Hollow. It is brutal running a boat in this temperature. We round the point coming out of Cove Hollow and he shuts it down.
There is a big willow tree that leans out over the water. I sail a 1/8-ounce white Whirly Bee under it.
Two turns of the reel handle and something tries to take it away from me. Smallmouth of maybe four pounds. We turn her loose.
Every few casts, we have to dip the Laminglass rods in the water to get the ice out of the guides.
All the way down the bank to the first cut, we pick up a fish about every fourth cast.
They are mixture of smallmouth, largemouth, Kentuckies, crappie and four really nice walleye. The smallmouth go back and the livewell is filling.
Did I mention it was cold?
After two hours we are near the mouth of Indian Creek and we are about frozen. It is mid-morning and it occurs to us, breakfast is in order. So we head in. It is brutal running. I turn around backwards and kneel in the bottom of the boat.
This was before the days of electric filleting knives. Dotson is an expert with a blade. He fillets, I cut ribcages. It is one impressive display of fillets.
We get out the two, big black, iron frying pans. I mix up some hush puppies and make a batter for the fish. Harold starts cutting up a couple potatoes.
Then the late, Chuck Wilson, arrives. Harold adds another potato, I add a few more fillets. Chuck adds some Coke to some Old Charter.
Things start frying. Walleye fillets, French fries, hush puppies, a warm dry double-wide, some fellowship. What more could you ask for? It can happen in March.
That afternoon it has warmed up -- maybe 35 degrees, we head out. It is even better than the morning. The crappie are turned on. They want the white, Whirly Bee.
After a couple hours, the live well is almost overflowing. With frozen snot on our chins, we head in.
We take hot showers and Harold starts filleting, Chuck washes and I cut ribcages. That night, supper was T-bones, baked potatoes, asparagus, biscuits and a salad with some new thing called a Romaine lettuce…or something.
I sautéed some button mushrooms in oil and butter and Chuck mixed us an Old Charter and Coke.
After cleaning up the debris, we sit replete, not talking, just looking at each other and grinning. Cause it don’t get any better than that. It can happen in March.
Back then, a large part of our enjoyment came from cooking and eating.
The “camp” at Cove Hollow was a three bedroom double wide and was the site of many fantastic meals. I even lived there for a while during a bad period in 1984.
It was also the site of some pretty good poker games. There was a small core group of us who had keys.
But the most memorable part were the meals. No brag, just fact, I am a good cook. We ate well.
Just a group of good old boys comfortable in each other’s company. With a good meal and a drink hand, we grinned a lot.
Years ago, five of us all started out together. All about the same age, all about the same station in life. Harold Dotson, Chuck Wilson, Russ Jackson, Mickey Pope and me. I am the only one still alive.
Why me, Lord?