Larry Parks

Larry Parks displays a redfish he caught on a recent fishing trip.

My usual routine each day starts with an early-morning light breakfast consisting of a fold-over sausage sandwich and two scoops, with a fork, of Mamu’s — what I call purple stuff — all washed down with a cold glass of ice water.

It’s actually a pink salad made out of pecans, crushed pineapple, cherries, a small can of Eagle Brand milk and lots of Cool Whip. After satisfying the call for food in my stomach, it’s time to settle down in my little red rocking chair, raise the blinds on my picture window and take a long look at Lazy Lake as the sun starts to reflect rays off its gentle surface.

There’s something really special about that old chair and those few moments. It’s a La-Z-Boy recliner that rocks, is very narrow so that my arms sit straight down on the rest — which eliminates the feeling I’m trying to fly — and the foot rest is long enough so that my feet, not my calves, sit nicely on it.

I’ve had it for at least 30 years and had it recovered and repaired several times. Sitting in it and relaxing for a few minutes each morning, watching birds and many other of Mother Nature’s creatures, allows me to clear my mind and make plans for the day’s activities.

On one recent occasion, my thoughts turned to all the hobbies I’ve enjoyed through the years. Bowling, golfing, collecting old medicine bottles, yesteryear coins and stamps were just brief incoming tides in my long life.

Hunting was an extended period of rising water, but it too began to recede after many years of enjoyment. Fishing has flooded my whole world for almost 80 years, and recently I’ve had a few months experience that explains why it has been a rushing tide for so long.

The great world of our fishery has many different species to pursue. I’ve tried many of them as my adventures evolved and found that only one of them keeps those giant waves rolling on shore — 20-inch-plus red fishing in shallow water.

This spring my buddies and I have had such little success that at one point I even thought of giving up eating Blue Bell ice cream with hopes that would change our luck. Ha, just kidding.

Planned trips had to be cancelled due to bad weather, no bait, and trips to the dentist, of all things, just to name a few. Then when we were able to part some water, all we could find were a bunch of children reds that seem to be hungry and no line-stretchers to fill our stringer.

Things really got bad on one occasion when the weather that was supposed to be a bright sunny day turned into a rainstorm that soaked us on our 10-mile trip back to the boat launch.

That’s when things completely went sour. The power wench that pulls I’m Ready onto her trailer would not work and we had to use a come-along. It was a long, slow process, but gave us some more time to complete our raindrop bath.

Sometime, failures will lead to success if they don’t destroy your goal. I’ve written several times about how important it is for grown men to teach young kids the great hobby of fishing. This story will enhance that view because it’s about two of my boys that grew into men and changed my luck when they recently took me for a rod-bending.

Chuck Parks, Larry Sydow and I have been stretching line together for over 50 years, most of the time with great success. A trip with them would surely change the down-in-the-dumps cycle I’ve been having.

Just after daybreak, I’m Ready, purring like a kitten, took us to one of our sweet fishing spots. With excellent live bait, good weather and two of my boys, I was thinking, “Get ready, my scaly friends are going to give me a thrill today.”

Well, after five different locations and lunch, all we had was a dry stringer, a few rat reds, some slimy catfish and a large freshwater gar for our efforts. Frankly, I was about ready to head back to the docks, but the boys wanted to keep on hooking.

Our next honey hole was a deep spot about the size of a small bedroom between two oyster shell reefs and was only large enough for two-at-a-time fishing. Sydow deposited one of our minnows and it was gobbled up a few seconds after it hit the water, starting a war between man and a monster that wants to get free by cutting that line on the shell.

There was lots of splashing and lip music over some 15 minutes, with Sydow winning the battle by landing a 26-inch red that weighed 7 pounds. Chuck got involved, and over the next three hours, I got to witness my boys and our two-spotted friends put on a wild inshore fishing adventure.

Take my word for it, those huge dark shadows that roam our bays didn’t lose every time because my tackle box needs some restocking. We netted 14 over 20 inches, kept a few for supper and released the rest for next trip. It didn’t matter to me that I got outfished and lost some bragging rights because my hooks weren’t in the best location. I will keep on fishing a while longer.

Larry Parks of Lake Jackson is author of “Dancing with the Waves,” a collection of stories and people gathered from a lifetime of fishing, which is available for purchase at The Facts office.

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