Coffee shops and work places in the Missouri, Ozarks, or any locale for that matter, are great places to pick up the latest fishing tips and hot action reports.
Wherever fishermen gather, stories fly and truths and untruths are heard out by the gathered listeners. However, it seems fishermen linger longer at coffee shops and who doesn’t want to stiff the company a bit with an extended fishing story.
It is up to the listener to separate fact from fiction when participating in these impromptu fishing conferences. It takes experience to do so.
The reputation of the storyteller is the best indicator of separating the cream from the milk. However, it is a known fact that a crowd of storytelling fishermen each diminish their reputation a bit during every gathering of the minds.
I have learned over the years that a few incredulous fishermen will stretch the truth more than usual so that my listening ears might capture the conversation. The truth stretcher’s hope is that his hapless fishing tale will show up in our local newspaper, thus creating a new laugh at the next coffee shop gathering.
The truth of the matter is that I do, in fact, gather some very helpful fishing information from coffee shops and my workplace, even if I do have to do a good deal of work separating the wheat from the chaff.
Only a week ago, I overheard a very reputable fishermen telling the guys at work about the best crappie fishing trip of his lifetime the weekend before. According to the storyteller, who has boated thousands of crappie in his fishing career, he checked out his usual fish producing brush piles at Lake of the Ozarks and quickly discovered that the fish were not there.
As fishermen do, the storyteller began watching two local guys who were fishing very near the bank. The two anglers kept themselves busy pulling crappie in on slip bobber rigs in very shallow water.
The consummate story teller insisted that the two guys were nuts. “You just don’t catch crappie in two feet of water in late February,” he said. “The water temperature hovered around 38 degrees. Crappie should have been in 20 feet of water.”
Not be duped, however, the storyteller moved into a pea gravel and rock rubble lined cove with a south facing bank. “I immediately began catching big crappie in two to seven feet of water,” he said. “I have never seen anything like it. I caught dozens of crappie up to 14 inches, keeping only the biggest. And I caught all of them in a 200 yard stretch of bank.”
I listened intently, waiting for the storytelling jig fisherman to drop the name of the jig he caught all his fish on. Of course, someone popped the question and the angler had now become the center stage attraction. Reluctantly, but not wanting to lose his spellbound buddies, the ardent angler blurted out, “Slab Busters, I caught them on Slab Busters.”
It all sounded fishy to me. However, I checked the web. They really do exist and are made by a retired farmer, Jack Stevens, at Lake of the Ozarks.
Yellow and chartreuse is the word. But, two feet in 38 degree water? I checked it out. That is true, too. I swear on a stack of fishing rods!