Mason County News
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I Fish, Therefore I Lie
Wednesday, September 23, 2009 • Posted September 23, 2009

Until further notice, it’s not safe to fish. It’s not safe to go swimming, or wading, or take a bath. I’m not even sure it’s safe to drink water unless it’s been thoroughly inspected, personally, by the Surgeon General.

Our first story comes from James Horton, who forwarded it after he got it from someone else. The title was ‘Real Rattle Trap.’

It seems a fishing guide was kayak fishing on the Brazos River when he noticed a small rattlesnake swimming across the river. He’d never seen that before, but it is a well-documented fact that rattlesnakes can swim. Unfortunately, the snake decided to head right for Mr. Guide’s kayak and try to get in it with him.

Mr. Guide didn’t care for that idea a whole lot and, in accordance with River Fishing Rule # 4, beat the snake unto death with a paddle. But as he was watching the snake swim, he had been thinking that its motion would make a fine lure.

So he carefully retrieved the rattlesnake, and very carefully hooked it through the head with a weedless hook, and started casting it toward a snag-infested laydown. On his sixth cast the jig-n-snake was attacked by a largemouth bass that looks, in the picture, like it would go probably four or five pounds.

When Mr. Guide finally tired the fish out and brought it beside his boat, he was very careful to avoid the snake’s head, lest he be poisoned by his own bait. The ‘real Rat-L-Trap’ worked like a charm, according to the email. But I don’t recommend using rattlesnakes for fish bait unless you own Kevlar gloves. And you’re fishing somewhere I’m not.

Our other fish story was sent in by Joyce Arnold, who included a PDF file containing the front page of the Sea Breeze newspaper. Unfortunately the date is not evident, but the picture shows a man identified as Bruce Gordy standing on a dock holding the ugliest creature I’ve seen in a long time. The story says it’s a six-foot, 100-pound, 60-year-old American Conger eel, and I don’t doubt it for a minute. This thing looks like a huge snake, probably a foot around in the middle, with a face like Janet Reno. I wouldn’t want to meet it behind bars in a zoo, much less a dark alley.

But the story is even better than the picture. It seems Bruce went on an offshore fishing trip with three friends, Steve, Ken, and Erik, in a 33-foot boat. They were having a fine evening, drinking beer and catching lots of fish.

About 3 a.m. Ken and Erik went below to get a little sleep, and Bruce and Steve kept fishing. After a while Bruce hooked something huge, and spent twenty minutes bringing it to the surface. Steve gaffed it and hauled it aboard. Big mistake.

When the eel hit the boat it went nuts, chasing Bruce and Steve around and trying to bite them with its razor-sharp teeth. In the melee it fell down below and landed between Ken and Eric, who were sleeping on cots. When Erik turned on the light the eel had raised its head and was looking down at him. He rolled over and grabbed his 9mm pistol. Steve started yelling at Erik, “Don’t shoot the gun in the boat! We’re 120 miles from land!” So Ken and Erik piled up the stairs and closed the door to the hold.

The four men developed a plan, and Steve was elected to distract the eel. As he opened the door the eel came up the steps from the hold, trying to bite whatever he could. All four fishermen ran to the wheelhouse and slammed the door, leaving the rest of the boat to the eel.

After drinking some more beer the four made another try. Steve ran out and the eel attacked, and Steve jumped up on the captain’s chair. Ken threw a blanket over the eel and Bruce and Erik beat it with a gaff and an ice chest lid. They managed to subdue the beast and put it in a large ice chest, and closed the lid.

The four were sitting around congratulating themselves, having another beer, when the lid popped off the ice chest and Jean Claude van Eel attacked again. Two of the guys grabbed gaffs, one used the ice chest lid, and the other got hold of a fire extinguisher. They finally beat the eel down again, and got it back into the ice chest. This time they tied the lid shut and put another ice chest on top of it.

No one wanted to open the ice chest when they got back to the dock, so they did ‘rock, paper, scissors’ to decide. I have no idea who won, but it wasn’t me.

My friend, Greg Berlocher, makes fun of me for staying out of salt water, but that’s OK. As long as I keep my feet on dry land I will never be attacked by a huge, angry, carnivorous Conger eel. Fact is, I’m not too sure anymore about kayak fishing on the Llano . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist who avoids water deeper than he can stand up in, if at all possible. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

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