Guiding bass fishermen can really open your eyes to how different people have so many odd habits and ways of doing things. I spent many years on Toledo Bend fishing with people from all walks of life. I have had doctors, lawyers, carpenters, salesmen and others from every walk of life. Even had a young couple on their honeymoon that could not keep their hands off of each other long enough to fish. They even embarrassed me a couple of times with their antics and I actually had to turn around and look the other way a few times to keep from laughing at them. The second day we were supposed to fish they did not show up and when I went looking for them. When I knocked on the door to the cabin they were staying in, the guy comes to the door and says he really wants to fish but his new wife wanted to stay in. Yeah right, I guess she had to pull his arm to get him to stay. Heck I did not even get paid for that day.
On one of my first guide trips I get a guy from Montana that was a died in the woods finesse fisherman. He had spent his life fishing for small trout on a little mountain stream back in the mountains on his fathers ranch. He shows up that day with a 4 foot bamboo fly swatter with 2 lb. test and says he wants to try Bass on ultra light. I told him that I did not think he could land a Bass on that outfit but he insisted he was an expert and had landed many trout in the 4-5 lb. range on that light tackle. I tried my best to explain that he was fighting those fish in freezing open water and that the fight would be much more difficult with a fish like a Bass in water that had a lot of brush and all sorts of things a fish could get tangled in. After he launched a long and boring tirade to make me aware of his level of expertise with his fairy stick, I being the red neck that I was in those days (as opposed to the refined gentleman I am today) formulated a plan to make his trip as pleasant as I could. I mean it was the right thing to do. As Toledo bend was nothing but a forest in those days I picked the thickest nastiest place I could think of. I put him right in the middle of a huge tree top that had a school of 1-2 lb. fish. Now picture this, the top was in about 10 foot of water so you could not see anything down there. This guy went nuts trying to get those fish out of that top. Every time he would drop his little grub in there he would get busted off as soon as he set the hook. He kept saying I can’t understand how they break my line so fast, they must be huge fish. I had to drop a worm in there on my baitcaster with 20 lb. line and get one out to convince him they were small fish. That was a mistake. This guy was livid when he discovered I had put him in a treetop about the size of a school bus. I had to spend the rest of the day chasing schools of tiny barfish out on the river to placate him because he was so mad I thought he was going to have a coronary.
One particularly cold day in February, I get a guy and his wife from up north somewhere that wanted to try for a fish big enough to mount. Well that is always the ones you hate to get. I mean who can catch a wall hanger on demand. Even back when Toledo was at its best a 5 or 6 lb. bass was hardly a cinch. This guy is as macho as any guy I had ever met and he was convinced that he was Roland Martins equal. Every other word was some expletive of his fishing prowess. He pretty much ignored his wife and when he did recognize her presence it was in a belittling manner as though she did not belong in the boat with a professional guide and a fisherman of his prowess. He sucked up to me big time like I was going to put him on something special if he brown nosed me enough. Heck the truth was I did not really know where I could find any big fish at that time. Anyway we head out to a flat back in a big creek that did hold some good fish sometimes. As this guy was such a big time fisherman I tied a jig on a baitcaster and handed it over to him whereas he promptly told me he did no know how to cast a “level wind” reel. Hey at least he admitted it. As I always carried several push buttons, I put the jig on a Zebco and tied his wife on a spinnerbait (actually a single blade H&H). He proceeded to make a complete ass of himself by criticizing everything his wife did. She did get hung up a lot but that was to be expected after I learned she had never been Bass fishing. Her only experience had been Bream fishing a few times. We had been fishing along for about an hour when he hooked a pretty good fish and promptly let it wrap him up and break off, absolutely fisherman error. Well he was really acting a jerk after that even hinting that I was at fault for not getting that fish in the boat. I was about ready to take him in and tell him where to go when his wife screams, “something is caught on my hook”. Shoot I figure she was hung up again and the clown even hollered at her to just break her line so we did not have to go get her bait. About that time I realized she had a pretty good fish on. She was screaming and wriggling all over the boat trying to hold on to that rod for all she was worth. Well, when he realized she had a good fish on he tried to grab the rod from his wife but she would not give it up. This little girl was having the time of her life with this fish. He was hollering at her to give hiim the rod or you are going to lose OUR big fish, and she was just as determined that it was HER fish.
I maneuvered the boat around so she would have clear water to get the fish in and she finally got it close enough for me to net her. I would think that even this guy would be happy for his wife, but alas he says I cannot believe anyone could be as lucky as you are; you do not even know how to fish. He was steamed for the rest of the day and a very unpleasant guy when he did not catch a fish all day. Of course it is pretty hard to catch a bass in 40 feet of water in the middle of the Sabine river which is where I kept him the rest of the day. Heck I was a rookie guide I did not know that.
Papa (Earnie Cella)
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