On my way back from a Canadian fishing trip, I stopped in Iowa to call my cousin-in-law, Becky McNew, and asked her where I could find a good camera. The reason I need to update my camera gear is because I am going to become a fully engaged part-time river fishing guide and photographer. Taking others fishing brings back memories of those times so many years ago as a kid on the Big Piney, and again in the ’70s and ’80s in north Arkansas.
I know the float-fishing isn’t what it was, but when you are as good at it as I am, I consider anyone who floats a river with me to be one lucky fisherman! That sounds very conceited, but everyone is good at something, and that is what I am good at. If I try to do much of anything else, it is a disaster. I can’t do anything mechanical.
The only thing I know to do with a spark plug is use it for a duck-decoy weight. I tried to change my trailer bearings once and had to buy a whole new axle. My wife won’t even tell me if there is something broken around the house because she knows if I try to fix it, it will be more broken than it was to begin with.
But you should be with me floating down the river because I can definitely paddle a boat. If there were a boat-paddling hall of fame I would be in it. And I can tell you right where a big smallmouth lurks just from all the years of catching lunkers on my own. But I am about to quit fishing and begin seeing to it that others catch lunkers.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
I am also going to quit killing monstrous bucks and great big gobblers and help others do it. From now on when I sit in a deer stand I will be sitting there with a camera, and when I sneak through the woods in the snow next winter, the only barrel I will have will be a short telephoto camera lens. When mallards drop into decoys, I will shoot the whole bunch with my camera, and when I see a classy little English setter frozen before a covey rise, not one quail will escape my wide-angle lens.
For that you need a great camera, and I had one for many years, but it might be outdated now. Besides that, I have spent great sums on batteries to run it, and now the door on the battery compartment won’t latch.
In the huge mess of a city called Des Moines, I went with Becky and found found a Nikon camera with two lenses that never needs a battery, normally more than $800 dollars, on sale for one more day for $500. They only had one left, and now it is mine.
With my sudden increase in happiness, I volunteered to take Becky to a real fancy place for dinner and she opted for a restaurant named for some kind of colored lobster. A lobster, of course, is a giant crawdad.
Iowa is really proud of those giant colored crawdads, price-wise. To eat one of them, you need to have a good-sized bank account, and my camera purchase had nearly eliminated mine. Becky said if I ordered a black-end catfish, it was fairly economical! So I ordered it. Now I have caught and eaten white catfish and blue catfish, yellow perch, green sunfish, black bass, brown bass and even a red snapper once when they had some on sale at a grocery store.
But I’ve never even heard of a black-end catfish! When I got it, there were some little biscuits and mashed potatoes to go with it and no gravy! I asked the lady who brought it to us if I could get some gravy or if they were just out of it that afternoon, and Becky acted like I had asked for a midwinter watermelon! “He’s from the Ozarks,” she said apologetically.
Apparently folks in Iowa don’t eat much gravy! And that black-end catfish I had was not at all black. It was sort of brown, and would have been SO much better with gravy! Of course, I do not know what he looked like before he was caught. Maybe one end was black, but I would like to know what color the rest of him was.
Well this week I intend to bring in some great outdoor photographs with my new camera.
I am pretty proud of my photography, but I am better at paddling a boat, and if you want to be paddled down the river and photographed catching big fish, you ought to call me. Or I might could take you turkey hunting or deer hunting this fall, or quail hunting or duck hunting or whatever. I might even take a few folks mushroom hunting next spring, but I’ll insist on blindfolding you until we get there.