Dale Hollow Lake Part 2

(You can find the first part of this story here.)

The Trio Table Talk

While sitting at the kitchen table Wednesday evening I listened to Daniel and Ryan strategize the fishing game plan for Thursday as we swapped a few fishing stores. I had a peaceful sense that my fond fishing memories of long ago were about to be reaffirmed and increased through the new memories that were most certainly going to be made. I shared one of my old memories with them about running the trotlines on Lake Travis with my Mammaw and Pampaw Bebee back in the early 1960s.    

Mammaw Bebee was an early riser. She would get up and slip out the back door of our cozy cinderblock cabin with one big room, including kitchen on the north end seating area in the middle with beds on the south end. Plus, a screen porch across the front facing east toward the lake.  I would sleep on the front porch and often be awake when I heard the cabin back door open and close. By the time Mammaw came around the front corner of the screened in porch I would have already pulled on my clothes and be stepping out the front screen door meeting her for the short walk down to the boat dock.

Down at the dock, the routine was that I would sit on the front of the 3 metal seats of the   fourteen-foot aluminum Lonestar boat. Mammaw would be on the back seat, squeeze the black rubber bubble (pump ball) on the fuel line priming the carburetor, pull the choke and then jerk the pull starter rope a couple of times and that would fire up the Johnson 10 horsepower motor. In seconds we would be out on the serenity of early morning sunrises reflecting off the deep green waters of the main lake.

There was one morning running the trotline that I will remember forever. Arriving at the place along the shore where our trotline was tied off, Mammaw throttled back on the motor and then shut it off. As we glided slowly toward the bank I grabbed a boat paddle and thrust it down into the water just in time to raise our trotline onto the boat.  With the front of the boat still facing the shore, Mammaw would then start hand over hand running the trotline pulling the boat backwards toward the middle of the lake. This morning while running the trotline Mammaw became angry. At each hook she became even more angry.

You see, one of our other routines was that in the late afternoons into the evenings, Pampaw and my younger brother and I would go casting and or trolling in all our favorite places. The afternoon before, we had had some very good fortune by catching a mess of white bass. We had a few minutes before dark and were trolling close to our trotline. With our 14-hook galvanized steel stringer full of white bass trailing through the water alongside our boat with multiple hooks holding at least a couple of bass Pampaw said; “I think we will go bait up the trotline with these white bass.”  

Yes. Illegal. Had never done it before. And have never done it since. Pampaw chuckled and said; “Now Donny and “wee buddy” (that’s what he called my brother) you two don’t say anything about this when we get back to the cabin, OK?” Grinning from ear to ear, we nodded; “OK.” Fishermen Secrets. Beware. Your secrets will find you out.

When Mammaw came to that first hook with a white bass on it, she mumbled something to herself about legalities, pulled the still alive white bass off the hook and threw it into the bottom of the boat and continued pulling hand over hand to the next hook.  Finding it baited with another still alive white bass, her words became much easier to understand as she was making declarations about what she was going to say to “Aaron” when we got back to the cabin… as she took the next white bass off the hook and threw it into the bottom of the boat with the others. This went on hook after hook. I sat quietly in the front of the boat as a fearful accomplice to the cause of her fishing frustrations.

Suddenly she got quiet.  The next thing I heard in the stillness of the early morning air out on the calm quiet water was Mammaw saying, “D-O-N-A-L-D-R-A-Y, get the dipnet!”   Pampaw told my brother and I the evening before that he was putting our largest white bass weighing between a pound and half to two pounds on the last of the 30 hooks on the trotline because that far out into the lake was where there was an underwater ledge and drop off where the bigger fish hang out. I fetched the dipnet and together Mammaw and I pulled in a 31-pound blue cat.  We had a family fish fry instead of a family feud! A memory that makes me feel good all over more than anywhere else.

Getting late Wednesday night, we finished up our fishing stories and game plan then called it a day. I slept well.

I’ll be posting more of this story soon – keep an eye out!