Out fishing with Lester Pithfroggle

Published 9:48 am Friday, October 13, 2017

By TJ Ray

Never would I shoot craps with old Lester Pithfroggle using his dice. Not would I likely understand his expertise in nuclear physics. But to Lester’s credit, he is not without extraordinary skills, particularly in the ancient art of angling.

For a panorama of gadgets and things to guarantee catching fish, just spend some time at the spillway out at Sardis Reservoir. Some folks must make two or three trips up and down the long concrete steps to get all their paraphernalia to water level. Anglers have been known to take three rods and reels down. One can only guess that the intent is to have a backup for the one that malfunctions.

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Along comes Lester toting an ancient rod and reel and a small cup of crickets. Takes a few minutes to find or arrange some rocks for a comfortable seat, but then he’s ready.

Before making his first cast, yea, even before baiting his hook with his first wiggledy cricket, Lester goes through his pre-cast routine, a sure-fire technique for landing a Moby Dick.

The first determination is windage. Some folks just say “wind” but old timers like our guy here using the proper aeronautical lexicon. A finger in his mouth and then pointed up tells him what he needs to know. Windage aids in setting the direction of the cast and affixing the likely hiding spot of Mr. Trout or his friend Mr. Catfish.

The critical cast direction set, Lester measures how far away he expects to locate his prey. In his position, he reckons that the distance across the spillway water is 72.6 feet.

Now he is careful to decide where along the rushing water he sets himself. He knows fish at times get sort of disoriented storming across the concrete spillway so fast. Thus we see him take his stance just where the turmoil of whitewater gives way to running water.

Knowing more precisely where he now is, he settles on the depth where the victim is lurking. The deepest point he wants to plumb is 3’ 9.5” so he must cast to that spot above that depth. Never one to use depth gauges and doodads like that, Lester just lets his 18.4-gram lead sinker and hook stay under the surface until it hits the target spot. At that point, he begins slowly to crank the old reel (hoping like the mischief it doesn’t snarl up the way it did last time).

While all this is going on, a snowy pelican is bobbing in the current two feet from where Pithfroggle’s sinker went in. Suddenly that feathered fish eater ducked his head all the way under water and surfaced with a full mouth of trout. The gallon of water he took in with his supper escaped through some holes in the bottom of his bill.

Of course, Lester gives the bird a tongue lashing for stealing his fish. But he’s not really mad cause he knows full well that the same power that made him made the fish and made the bird. So he finishes reeling in his line and casts again, thinking that perhaps he was a bit above 3’ 9.5” when he started in last time.

If you run into Lester out there, stay close by him. He’s been known now and again to just give his catch away. After all, fishing is really only fishing until the fish is caught.

TJ Ray is a retired professor of English at Ole Miss.