Bill’s Board

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.

Bill Tippins