April is one of my favorite months because it’s the best month for my favorite sport — wade fishing for crappie (white perch, sunfish, specks, papermouths, best eating freshwater fish ever are a few other names).
Today begins with one of my best fishing buddies, Bobby Reed of Batesville, MS. As usual, spring has thrown us a very ugly fishing day with 20MPH winds and 48 degrees which makes wading up to your waist in the water a little chilly and the boat ride to that hidden hollow out of the wind can be an experience itself.
We put on our rain suits as we knew the waves would constantly splash us as we crossed the bumpy lake. Arriving at our selected spot on Arkabutla Lake (sorry, no specifics, a crappie fisherman’s core value is never to tell where you caught the fish 😉). We are out of the wind and to our surprise, we have caught about five fish in the first hour. Did I mention that there were only two other boats at the boat launch that had over 30 the day before? Tells you a little more about what wise fishermen did today.
There’s nothing better than catching fish when everyone else doesn’t go. But when the bite slowed down, we moved to a smaller hollow right next to this one. After securing the boat with the anchor talon, I joined Bobby in the new hollow. We found the fish hanging under some debris and landed several more, so we now had 11. That’s not a lot, but wade fishing is difficult to start and it’s still 48 degrees now at 3 p.m. We are getting pretty cold and start talking about leaving.
“Bobby, I think there’s another boat in here.”
We had not seen any boats, fishermen or waders all day.
“Yeah, I see it through the trees.”
“Are they fishing out of the boat?”
“Joey, I think that’s our boat!”
Oh no, it is! Floating out in the middle, where it’s about 12 feet deep, is our boat. The wind gusts had been pretty powerful and one must have caught the boat just right and forced it out from the bank where the anchor talon would not hold.
We (I) don’t have any choice but to strip down and swim out and get it. There’s literally no one else on the lake. As I wade out and the shock of the cold water hits me, the realization of how cold and lonely this swim is going to be sets in. I swam at full speed and thankfully made it safely to the boat. Even as I climbed aboard the cold had numbed me and the wind had me shivering uncontrollably.
Needless to say, I dressed and we headed home! Bobby laughed all the way back. He also took this picture of me in the water, swimming with all I have.
This is the only time I have had to swim for my boat and certainly not under these weather conditions.
It’s not the only time I have felt cold, lonely and desperate. It’s those moments where I ignored my core values and did something I wanted to do or something everyone else was doing. It always ends with a cold, lonely and desperate swim back to my core values and self-worth. We each have our boat built with our core values to help us navigate the storms of life, the temptations, the bad habits and to secure the opportunities to live a life of significance — a life where we make a difference for others. Our choices can keep us safe, secure and enjoying our life journey, or they can keep us in the cold water.
I love HORNE and the fact that we are committed to our core values of God, Family, Service and Gratitude. I am so grateful that I was able to write this blog although I do dread Mom reading this one. I can still hear Bobby’s laughing as he said on the way home, “Now that is a memory and story to tell.”