Take Time to Fish Between the Cracks

toledo bend 3

Sunset from Sunset Marina on Toledo Bend near Many, Louisiana.

Bloggers Note:  Every week there are stories and information that I want to tell in my message but there is simply not enough time.  My message this past Sunday “Going Fishing” from Mark 1:14-20 was like that. This story by Terry Higginbotham was left on the cutting room floor.  But it is worth the read.  Please note: this is not my work.  The original author is Terry Higginbotham copyright 2004.


The summer of 1972, my brother and I were filling cricket and bait buckets for Mr. K.C. Bray at the Sunset Marina on the Toledo Bend Reservoir just south of Many, Louisiana.

It was just another hot, humid, July in the southwest Louisiana. Each day the same as yesterday and with almost certainty the same as it would be tomorrow. The wind was so still that the Spanish moss barely rustled in the old cypress trees. But these were the type of days I liked, cause the fishing would be good. Good fishing meant good tips.

Lil’ Brother and I never did make a lot of money, but enough to keep us just short of even on our account at Mr. K.C.`s store. Our daily provisions consisted of two cokes, a moon pie, a Miss. Dailey’s fresh made sandwich, and all the crickets we needed to catch our supper. By 7:00 p.m., every evening we would have our 3 bream apiece. We would gut `em, stick `em, and cook `em over a little fire we would make on the bank near our tent.

Lil’ Brother and I had spent the last two summers camping on the banks of the Bend. We fancied ourselves as a modern day Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. We were accountable to no one and responsible for only our daily bread. Don’t get me wrong, we were not bad kids nor did we come from a broken home. We had loving parents, grandparents, and friends. We were just lucky enough to grow up in a part of the world and in a time that allowed us to live free, truly free.

Our parents would come to the Bend on the weekends and we would get a reprieve from our day-to-day attempts to “survive”. We didn’t know until years later that mom and dad gave Mr. K.C. money to cover our supper in the case fishing ever went bad. They would bring us fresh clothes, comic books, candy, and fresh tackle for our nightly fishing. They would stay for the weekend then head for real world late on Sunday Evening.

On Friday night we would all go down to the dock. We would sit for hours talking about the week’s events. Lil Brother and I would tell about our adventures. Dad would tell us stories about the jobs he was on. Dad was an ironworker and we were fascinated by his stories of “walking in the air”. To us he was a superhero. Saturday we would spend the day fishing, swimming, and skiing.

Sunday morning was spent at “church”. We would go down to the dock, bait a couple of hand lines. We would then lower the hand lines through the cracks in the dock. The really big fish would rest in the shade, just under the dock. The best way to get to them was to fish through the cracks where the two floating partitions of the dock joined. While Lil’ Brother and I would fish for the Big Ones, Daddy would read to us about becoming “Fishers of Men”. Some of the best times of my life were spent belly down on that old dock, coaxing those big bluegills out with worms and crickets. As I look back on it now, it wasn’t because of the fishing but because of the time spent with Dad and Lil’ Brother.

Recently my dad came to visit. I was in the midst of a major project and wasn’t spending much time with him. Maybe a few minutes in the morning and an hour or so at night, before I passed out from exhaustion. On his last night, I finally got to tell him about the new boat I just bought. About the rods and reels, tackle, and accessories just waiting until we got a chance to go fishing. I told him about the cabin on Toledo Bend that we were going to rent, as soon as I got enough time to go. I told him about how excited the kids were when I had brought home new rods and reels for them, last month. He seemed to enjoy the talk although he seemed very quiet and almost sad.

My dad left that next morning. As we shook hands, he drew me near and presented me with an old box. He whispered, “The secrets to a happy life are in here”. Dad was always a little strange when it came to good-byes, so I just smiled, waved and watched him slowly drive out of sight.

The small box was worn red with a small picture of a man battling a giant bass. Below the picture was the caption “Sunset Marina Toledo Bend Many, Louisiana”. I slowly opened the box and smiled as I became aware of its contents. Truly these were the “secrets of life”. In the box was a small bible with a bookmark with Matthew 4:19 printed on it. It had been a while but I did remember, “Follow Me and I will make you Fishers of Men”. Beside the Bible was a small hand line wrapped in a piece of paper with my dad’s handwriting scrawled on it. I unfolded the note and smiled as I read the simple key to a happy life.

“Son, Make time to fish through the cracks”.

Today isn’t just another hot, humid, July day in southwest Louisiana. Not quite the same as yesterday and with almost certainty the same as it will be tomorrow.

“Hey Jon, throw dad another moon pie”.

“Just a minute dad, I think Erin’s got another one”.

“Be careful not to lose him, it’s a little tricky getting ’em back through the cracks”.

“Hey dad”.

“Yeah, Jon”.

“Was fishing this good when you were a kid?”


(c) Copyright 2004 OuachitaGroup All Rights Reserved

Owner of HuntStats.com and The OuachitaGroup, Terry Higginbotham, is an avid hunter, fisherman, and outdoorsman. He runs a research project studying the Whitetail Deer and the American Wild Turkey. Information from this study is available online at HuntStats.com or by email at: articles@HuntStats.com

Keep Your Big Mouth Shut!

Largemouth Bass with the tail of bream sticking out of it's gullet!

Largemouth Bass with the tail of my bream sticking out of it’s gullet!

As I mentioned here https://revkevreflections.wordpress.com/about/ one of my favorite things to do in my spare time is to go fishing, especially fly fishing. My grandaddy taught me how to fly fish, and every time I go fishing I remember the things he, and my other fishing partners, taught me about fishing and about life. But I think that is a subject for another day.

Black bead chain Wooly Bugger- a favorite fly!

Black bead chain Wooly Bugger- a favorite fly!

Largemouth Bass that ate my bream!  Looks like it needs a good meal!

The Largemouth Bass that ate my bream! It looks like it needs a good meal!

Last spring, I went to a local pond for a few hours of fishing. The wind was calm and I thought it was a beautiful day for flyfishing. So I pulled out my fly rod, rigged it with a wooly bugger (a fly tied with chenile, marabou, and chicken feathers), and proceeded to catch a few bream (pronounced brim- bluegills for non-southerners). I was catching some nice bream and they were putting a nice bend in my long fly rod.

I hooked a nice bream, and it was pulling hard, until the line got HEAVY. He must have got behind a log or a branch, I thought. Then the line start moving away and I realized that either my bream had experienced some exponential growth or I had a large predator fish on my line. Sure enough, after a few runs and allowing the long rod to tire the fish, the fish got close to the bank. It was a big largemouth bass! I landed the fish and when I picked it up by the mouth, I looked into its very large mouth (I could put my entire fist into the mouth of the fish) and all I could see was the tail of my large bream. The bass had decided to try to turn my bream into its next meal and instead its large mouth (pun intended) got it into trouble.

This got me thinking about all the time that my mouth had gotten me into trouble. Sometimes, my mouth outruns my brain and I say things I shouldn’t. I imagine you have been there too.

The book of James in the Bible talks about the trouble our mouth can get us into. It describes the tongue as a raging fire that cannot be quenched (James 3:5-6). James says that though humanity has tamed many species of animals, the tongue has not been tamed (James 3:7-8). It says that though the tongue is small, it can control us if we are not careful, comparing the tongue to a bit that guides a horse or the rudder that controls the direction of a ship (James 3:3-4). In both cases, something small can have a great influence, just like the tongue.

Of course, the tongue can be used for good too. The Bible tells us that a gentle answer turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1). James even reminds us that “from the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so” (James 3:10)

As I looked at that bass, I couldn’t help but think “if you kept your mouth shut, you could have avoided all this trouble.” But I couldn’t help but think about times that I, like that bass, had opened my mouth and got myself into trouble. The moral of the story, for me, was that I should be very careful about when I open my mouth and how I use it. Maybe I, and that fish, should keep our big mouths shut more often.

By the way, if you’re wondering, I released the bass, with my bream in its gullet, to be caught again. So if you’re in the neighborhood, it is still swimming if you want to try to catch it. Unless it has learned (as I am trying to learn) to keep it’s big mouth shut!