It was a blisteringly hot day in South Georgia. The thermometer read 97degrees, but the weatherman said it felt like 103. I don’t know how he knew that, but I think for once he was right. When it’s that hot, there is only one place to go. So I went fishing. Not get in the boat and run 90 miles an hour down a lake and stop somewhere and stand on the bow of the boat in the hot sun fishing. No my kind of hot day fishing is different. I found myself not far from the Fruit Cake Capital of the World on the Canoochee River. I spent the day standing under the shade of an old red cedar tree with cypress knees all-around fishing in the dark ice tea water. I fished all day and hadn’t caught much but used up all my bait. I wasn’t really ready to leave, but with no bait, I turned to go. Right there behind me was a great big rattlesnake with about a dozen rattles. The snake had a huge frog in its mouth about half swallowed. I thought to myself that frog would make good bait. I reached down and grabbed the snake right behind the head and I pried that frog loose from his mouth and put him in my bait box. Now I wondered out loud, “what am I gonna do with this snake; I don’t want him to bite me.” After a few seconds of looking at the snake with his mouth wide open, I had an idea. I pulled my flask of Jack Daniels out of my back pocket and I poured about two ounces down that snake’s mouth. Well the snake’s tail started to shake all those rattles and his eyes bugged out and then he just went limp. I threw the snake off in the bushes and grabbed my frog from the bait bucket and went back to fishing. About 20 minutes later I felt something hit my knee-high rubber boots so I looked down. There was that same snake looking up at me– with two frogs. This is a true story, I swear.
If you believe that you probably can’t tell the difference between lightning and lightning bugs. Anybody who knows anything about me would know when I got to the part where I turned around and saw a rattlesnake that is where the story would end, with only a brief mention of how to climb a red cedar tree without getting splinters. My fear of snakes came to me naturally as an inherited trait.
About 1955 my father and grandfather were in a flat bottom aluminum boat floating down that same ice tea water in that same Canoochee River near that same Fruit Cake Capital of the World. They had a couple of shotguns with them in case they had problems with snakes. They were enjoying the lazy trip easing along in the shade of the overhanging branches when all of a sudden a snake dropped out of the tree right in the middle of the boat. They both knew exactly what to do; they picked up their shotguns and fired a couple of rounds each at that snake totally eliminating any trace. Coincidentally they also blew a large hole in the bottom of the boat that immediately filled with water and sank.
At least one of these stories is true. I don’t know what fear of snakes and fishing in South Georgia has to do with anything, but I hope it made you smile at least a little bit. Keep your sense of humor no matter what else is going on and everything else does not seem so bad.
Stay safe and take care of each other.