The doldrums of February have set in with a vengeance and thus I stay cooped up in the house for days on end. Cabin fever, as it is commonly known, can be caused by incessant rain, cold weather, pandemic or a combination of all three, thus, we have recently hit the trifecta. Contemporary scholars have also referred to cabin fever as COVID-19 madness or Quarantine Quandary, but the symptoms are all the same.

With vast amounts of time on my hands I embarked on a rare thinking spree and came up with some ideas. No. 1 was to build an ark but the supply of gopher wood out here in Buckhead is limited. No. 2 was to go streaking through the rain, cold and mud to refresh my mind and body but my wife nixed that one immediately. Finally, I decided to give out my All-Time Fishing Awards (ATFA) to relieve the boredom.

To do this I consulted two things. First was my fishing journal, which I began keeping in 1995, and second, I used my razor-sharp mind for all things pre-1995. Here are the results.

Most Fish Caught on a Two-Day Trip

This one was easy. Back in 1982 (that razor-sharp mind is hazy on the month), I went to Suwanee, Fla. with a bunch of hooligans from Rutledge, and our guides said there was no limit to the number of redfish we could catch. We took them at their word and that pile of fish filled up the entire back end of Lamar Conner’s El Camino. We threw ice on them every hour on the way back and cleaned them when we got home. There is no number that could accurately describe how many we had.

Best Biting Fish

July 3, 1997. Went shellcracker fishing with my father-in-law, Mr. Lamar Whidby, on Lake Santa Fe in Florida. We caught 77 of those feisty fish but the best bite went to a chain pickerel who latched onto my fingers when I went to clean them off in the water. Had to shake him off in the boat to get him to turn loose. Still got the scars to prove it.


Best Memories

June 11-12, 2002. This trip included my brothers Robert Alan and Terry along with our Dad, Dewey. We went to Stuart, Fla. and caught king mackerel, trigger fish, snappers of several varieties, sharks and bonito to name a few. The memories were extra sweet because we were celebrating the 20-year anniversary of Robert’s donation of a kidney to his brother Terry.

Scariest Trip

No doubt this is exhibit A — July 2012. Went fishing on Clarks Hill (Strom Thurmond) with guide Jonathan Herndon to catch big catfish. We got caught in a storm where we later learned the wind blew 67 mph. Had to beach our aluminum boat and wait out a lightning storm. Oh yeah, Jonathan was wheelchair bound and I lost my glasses and had to walk out through the woods to try to find help. Nearly got shot by a nice man who thought I was a criminal when I knocked on his door during said storm.

Exhibit B — Late June 1995 went with Steve Cisson to Clarks Hill (Strom Thurmond) to fish behind the dam. Storm blew up and we waited too long to get out of there. We were fishing in the oldest boat I’d ever been in and the waves were so bad that I thought the boat was breaking up. Tried to hold it together with my bare hands. I guess I should stay away from Clarks Hill.

Most Restful Trip

August of 1989. We had just finished football camp at Toccoa Falls College with the Morgan County team and I was beat. So beat that I decided to go fishing in Savannah with my brother Terry and some of his henchmen. I climbed into the back of his pickup truck and slept all the way to Savannah on his spare tire covered by a blanket. Don’t remember if we caught any fish because my razor-sharp mind was blank after football camp and that ride to Savannah.

Biggest Bust

Late September 2007. A bunch of us got fired up about the recent fishing reports in the St. John’s River near Jacksonville, Fla. Unfortunately in our haste, we forgot to check the weather report. When we got to Jacksonville the wind was blowing 40 mph out of the northeast and though we tried, we couldn’t even launch the boat. Came home the next day fishless but learned to always check the weather before driving 300 miles.

My Biggest Bass

May 2018. Went to Geiger, Ala. to fish with my son-in-law, Thomas Brown, at a group of private lakes. On the second morning we found the key and hit the jackpot. We began hauling in bass of all sizes but the prize of the day was a 12 pounder I caught on a pink Trick Worm. Took a picture and put the big fella back. It was the day all fishermen dream about.

So there you have it. The ATFA have been selected for this year. When my razor sharp mind thinks of other awards I’ll let you know.

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