The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

July 10, 2008

It's just hard work catching enough fish to feed family

By Silas Gray

sports@joplinglobe.com

It was almost too easy.

My father and I simply backed down the ramp to within inches of the shore, and we easily slid the two-man plastic pontoon boat into the water. We then attached the trolling motor and moved the heavy battery aboard along with our fishing gear.

Without having to drag anything through waist-high, chigger-infested weeds, we were ready to fish.

We were fishing 25 miles north of Joplin at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Shawnee Trail Conservation Area. There are about 40 pits on the property, and I had fished this particular pit recently with outstanding results. Dad and I had returned to make sure that my previous trip wasn’t just a fluke.

There were three weeks remaining before our big family fish fry, and there were only 60 fish in the freezer. That’s 40 short of the minimum required, and a few more wouldn’t hurt. We were getting concerned.

We had arrived just before light that morning. Unfortunately, heavy rain and lightning kept us in the truck for almost an hour before we were able to launch. However, it provided a good opportunity for a nap.

As soon as the lightning stopped, we parked the truck in the lot at the top of the ramp, climbed about the boat and took off. Even though the rain had dissipated, the clouds remained, providing a pleasant shade.

The water near the edge of the ramp was mostly open and free of weeds. However, it wasn’t long before we were deep in a patch of lily pads. The blade of our electric trolling motor chopped and cut, and we made our way through with only two stops to clear the shaft.

Retrieving snagged hooks from the base of the lily pads slowed our pace, as did the many trees that had once lined the bank but were now lying partially underwater.

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