The year was about 1990. I was about 10 years old, depending on the day of the trip. My birthday is in June, and around that time we would normally spend a week or two at Texoma Lake. This particular year it was our family in a travel trailer, my aunt and uncle in a tent, and close friends in yet another tent. One trailer, two tents, and three boats.
Every time we went out on the water we would load up with limits of striper,*
Now about our boat. We had an old green fiberglass boat that had a platform built on the front with a bar stool bolted to the platform. We used this boat for striper fishing by day and bow fishing or fishing under the railroad bridge by night. The old boat had seen better days. I remember going across Lake Texoma one morning after catching a mess of striper with my dad and water started coming in the boat. . .because a split had appeared split straight up the middle of the boat about a foot long. Dad had to keep the boat on plane so that water wouldn’t come in, while ignoring some of the no wake bouys. We did, however, make it to shore without sinking! Dad got the old boat loaded up on the boat trailer and pulled into our camp site so it could dry out and we made a run to the local store for supplies to fix the crack. I’m pretty sure we ended up with a fiberglass repair kit and duct tape (yes, we used both), and yes we finished out the week fishing out of the old green boat!
Now, like I said, there were 3 boats in camp, but there were enough people that we really needed all 3 so we weren’t in each other’s way during the heat of the moment catching massive striper. We couldn’t just leave old green behind. Me, being a daddy’s girl didn’t mind the duct taped boat. I mean, my daddy fixed it and says it’ll be fine so I know it’ll be fine, right? I’m pretty sure I recall my sister opting to stay in camp with my mom or riding with someone else. Scaredy cat.
On to the fishing story. My place on the boat was that bar stool I mentioned earlier. I claimed it and was pretty much tied to it for the duration of our trip. For striper fishing, I used a long handled rods with Zebco 888 reels on it and blue and silver pencil poppers to catch those big striper on top water, I would lodge the rod against my belly button and get to fishing. Now, I was a pretty small girl so I had a pretty good fight with some of the bigger fish, my dad is fun to watch when he tells this story, because he gets pretty animated. I’ll try to do it justice with words, and you can use your imaginations, a small 10 year old girl with big glasses and bright red hair, on the platform of a worn out green boat striper fishing.
I would stand up and cast my pencil popper in the middle of the shad school we would see and then I’d lean against the barstool and start reeling, when I’d get one on the line, and it was about every other cast if not every cast*, I would pull as hard as I could and reel, while reeling the fish, if it was any size at all would pull me forward off the bar stool. I’d have to pull back again and reel some more. It was kind of like a feisty game of tug of war, but I won every time.
One afternoon the weather was turning off bad. You know, Oklahoma in May and early June. There were tornadoes being spotted and rain, lightening, and thunder all around us. This is when the fish were biting the best. The men in the group had gone out earlier to fish and scarcely made it back before things started going sideways, literally. While we all huddled in our travel trailer, the storm raged around us. The guys started telling fish stories. This, they said, was the absolute best striper fishing they had ever experienced, the storm had brought the really big striper to the top and they were having a blast catching them. Oddly enough, one of them actually had enough sense to get them back to shore before the tornadoes and high winds hit.
And in the words of Jimmy Buffet…. “It’s a semi-true story believe it or not I made up a few things and there’s some I forgot. But the life and the tellin’ are both real to me and they all run together and turn out to be a semi-true story.”
Many moons later and my dad still tries to take me on a fishing trip every year for my birthday and those are memories I will always cherish.
*Possible “fishing story”.
A lot of fish to hold for such a little girl! Yep, that's me flaming red hair and all!
This is me and my dad on that fishing trip so long ago. (The green boat is just to the right of the picture)