Last spring I was guiding everyday on Lake Conroe during my two week off limits for the Texas Invitational at Lake Sam Rayburn. I had been counting down the days before the event and running bass fishing trip after bass fishing trip, either two half days or a full day everyday before the tournament.
I had scheduled guide trips all the way through the Sunday before the tournament week which would begin on Monday. Well during the weekend I became so caught up in preparing for the tournament and taking care of business that I forgot about a trip that I had booked on Sunday afternoon.
I knew I was guiding Sunday morning and did not need to look at my schedule for that trip because I knew where to be and at what time to be there.
I had booked the trip for Sunday afternoon a week or so before and had good intentions of running it. When I was discussing times and meeting places with this regular customer of mine he said that he was going to be staying at April Plaza Marina over the weekend at their motel on the water. It was a thirty minute drive for him from April Plaza Marina to marina where I run out of up the lake. Even though that marina is ten miles by water out of my way I offered to go and get him and then drop him back off when we were done.
Running this afternoon trip was going to put me at Shane’s (Shane Allman, a friends where I was staying at Rayburn that week) late that night. But I figured that I could tough it out, a fishing guide/tournament pro always needs the extra money.
O.K., now you are informed on the situation so I am going to change tenses in this story and tell it as it was happening step by step.
I just got finished with my morning trip and put my boat on the trailer. My bags are packed in the truck and I get on I-45 to head up to Huntsville to take 190 to Jasper. About thirty minutes go by and it hits me, I have a guide trip booked for this afternoon. I pull over and look at my schedule, I was supposed to be at April Plaza Marina at 12:30 and it was about 1. I call April Plaza and ask if there is anyone there looking for me, she says that there had been a couple of guys there and that they weren’t real happy with me and that they had already left.
I call the number that I have down on my schedule to at least leave a message. It’s a fax line, I know I have called them before at this number what is the deal I thought? Oh well, there is nothing I can do about it now except go on to Shane’s. What got me was that they were not at the marina waiting for me as I came off of my morning trip because I had told them that I would pick them up down the lake. I was trying to be nice but it cost me because I forgot. This would have never happened if I would have had them come to my marina like normal.
I get to Shane’s and try the number again but the fax sound comes back again. I guess that I’ll just have to wait for them to call my house and leave me a message as to where in the hell I was and why I wasn’t there to take them fishing.
On Tuesday night I call my house to check the messages on my answering machine. They had called and left me a polite message wondering why I didn’t show up and also left their phone number.
I called them right then. My customer answered the phone and I tell him who I am and he awaited my explanation. I told him that I completely forgot and that I had tried to call the marina but they had already left and that I tried to call his house but only got a fax. He said that they had accidentally left the fax on instead of the answering machine and he seemed as though he might forgive me. I told him that I would take him out fishing for free trip in order to make up for my mistake. This is where the story begins.
A few weeks later when I take them out on their free trip they tell me of their horrible weekend that goes like this.
He and his friend had come to the lake with their own boat on Friday, got settled into their room and decided that they were going to go out on the town that night. They called a limousine service and arranged for a nine O’clock pick up at their motel. About ten thirty they were still there waiting, they called and waited some more but no limo. About eleven they said the heck with it and went to sleep.
They got up the next morning and went fishing. They caught a few fish and had a good morning and decided to come in and rest up for the afternoon. They went out that afternoon and caught a nice bass, about a seven pounder and wanted to take a picture of it but the camera was in the truck. They got back, pulled the boat in their wet stall and left the livewells running to keep the fish alive. They decided they wanted to take the picture the next morning in the daylight.
The next morning they get into the boat and push off, they start rigging their rods and gear, meanwhile the wind pushes them out into the lake. They get ready to start the motor but the battery is dead from the livewells running all night. They drop the trolling motor in but it doesn’t work. They try paddling but the wind is too strong. They finally wave down another boat who comes and gives them a jump. They put the boat on pad and run back to the marina to charge the battery and check on the trolling motor.
They go to get tools out of the truck but remember the keys are in a jacket on the boat. They look for the jacket but it must have blown out of the boat while running back to the marina. The keys are gone. It’s Sunday morning about eight am, not the best time to be trying to get a locksmith. Anyway they finally get a locksmith and for eighty five bucks he opens the truck and makes him an ignition key. They start charging the battery and work on the trolling motor until they get it working. They figured that they would just right off the morning and wait for me to show up to take them out at 12:30. About 12:15 they go out on the dock to wait where I said I would pick them up. They waited and waited, but I never showed. They ask the marina operator but she didn’t know where I was.
Finally, agreeing that I was pretty much a you know what, they went fishing in their own boat. They ran way up the lake to fish some rip rap. They put the trolling motor down to start fishing, one of them on the trolling motor and the other was digging in the tackle box for the right lure. The trolling motor was not running properly and they were about to be blown into the rocks. So the one on the trolling motor jumped behind the wheel and cranked the big motor and goosed it to avoid hitting the rocks. The other guy fell into the tackle box and got a treble hook buried in his hand pass the barb on two of the three hooks. They went to a marina nearby and tried to get someone to help. One guy tried the string trick to get them out but they were too deep. They left the boat tied up and got a ride to the Medical Center in Conroe. For three hundred and seventy five dollars the emergency room removed the hooks and sent them on their way. They got a ride back to April Plaza to where their truck and trailer was, packed up their stuff and went all the way around to the north end of the lake to get the boat. They successfully got it on the trailer and made it back to Houston all right by midnight on that Sunday night.
We have had some laughs together over this and this has got to top any of the mishaps that I have experienced. Someone really took a lot of things into consideration when they said, “Once a fisherman always a fisherman.”
Bill Cannan Professional Fishing Guide
– Lake Mohave
– Lake Mohave