I knew there would come a day when I’d be writing these words. This past Mother’s Day was the first one I awoke to without my mom.
Every Mother’s Day before, I had the opportunity to present her with a card, a box of candy or some little something I’d made or bought just for her. In turn, I would receive her thanks and her love.
Thinking of how I looked into her eyes on those occasions, I have remembered every stomach virus, scraped knee and broken heart she rode out with me. I knew that I’d never be able to repay her for all those times, and for so much else.
Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson recorded a tune in 1983 that was penned by Haggard and titled “Reasons to Quit.” The pair of so-called country outlaws sang of a vice or two they shared and lamented on their inability to stop. While Merle and Willie wanted to cease the smoking and drinking, I definitely don’t want to find an anglers’ rehab program.
The first time I steered my truck onto the grounds of Lindsey’s Resort outside of Heber Springs was more than a decade ago. I had heard about this family-owned and family-operated outdoor destination since I was a child. Over the years, I had many friends, acquaintances and co-workers tell me that going there to fish the Little Red River for trout was one thing I definitely needed to add to my list of things to do.
I grew up reading the saying on the pages of publications like Field & Stream and Outdoor Life. I also heard it on outdoor television shows when anglers traded in their casting and spinning gear for tiny creature baits and long whippy fly rods.
On a late-July afternoon, a longtime fishing and hunting guide is testing the crystalline waters of the Little Red River below the Greers Ferry Dam at John F. Kennedy Park. He hopes to hook a hefty “slot fish” or maybe something even larger — a trophy rainbow trout would do, but a big German brown is his ultimate prize. Many of his more-recent days afield have seen the guide trailed by a cameraman and fitted with a wireless microphone. His is the life of an outdoor enthusiast turned TV-show host. And while he is a half century removed from his first outdoor escapades, the outdoorsman is only a few mountains and hollows from where he was first introduced to the wild world.
NORTH LITTLE ROCK — Their tools are barometers, balloons saddled with high-tech gadgetry and Doppler radars. The functions of such items are as familiar to them as is our use of cutlery at a dinner table boasting steaks and baked potatoes. The people who utilize this equipment are the meteorologists of the National Weather Service, an agency of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The fish engulfed the topwater plug in one bone-rattling moment. Then, it — the fish — was gone. That plug was gone as well, having fallen victim to a knot that unraveled under the strain of the strike. Mouth agape, I sat there in the johnboat in a state of shock.
Mr. Roper, one of my outdoor educators, then calmly stated, “Just wait a minute. She’ll come up to throw it.” Those words had barely registered with me when a few yards away the bass hurled itself airborne, whipped its head about and slung the red and white Heddon Lucky 13 onto the bayou’s surface.
Picking up his sculling paddle, Roper eased the flatbottom toward the plug, then began retying the trotline staging to the lure’s eye.