© 2010 Aaron Atkinson

The Crappie Exaggerator

It was a wet spring in Iowa. Our late May crappie fishing outing to Big Creek Lake had thus far been thwarted by high, murky water that threatened to crest it’s banks. To even reach the floating fishing dock we had to leap over a 3 foot pool of water that had risen to cover the first five wooden planks.

It was a clear, purple-skied Friday evening and we were drowning minnows under bobbers. There were a dozen fishing boats sharing our cove, but their sunburned, cigarette smoking owners were having about as much luck as we were… zilch.

After an hour of nary a bobber twitch, we decided to cut our losses and head for home. As I was reeling in my shiner I let it rest just for a moment next to the dock before finishing my retrieve. But just as the minnow was about to break the surface, WHAM! a crappie inhaled it. That stalled our retreat long enough to dance another minnow four inches under the brown water’s calm surface. WHAM, WHAM, WHAM! We’d cracked the muddy lake’s crappie code and 6 fish on the stringer quickly turned into 12, then 18, then 25.

Try as we did to play it cool and disguise the fact we were the only fishermen on the lake catching anything, we could feel the eyes of the jealous masses peeking short stares at our bulging load of fish. Of course it didn’t help that the game warden happened to come by to check our licenses and catch, or that he exclaimed, “That’s the most fish I’ve seen come out of here all year!”

With that announcement, a fleet of boats crept closer and closer, circling around us like hungry sharks. But they were too late. The soon action slowed and Dad and I left for home, our load 27 crappies heavier.

Not being the kind of men who fail to seize an opportunity when it presents itself, we were back at the lake before the moon had found the western horizon the next morning. But aside from a couple of stragglers from the previous evening, the crappies were reluctant to accept our breakfast offerings. At about 8 o’clock a man and his boat drifted over.

Boat Man: Any luck?

Dad: Oh, pretty slow today. You?

Boat Man: Nothin’. But I tell you, you guys must be doing something wrong to not be catchin’ ’em.

Dad: Why’s that?

Boat Man: Well just last night a couple of guys were fishing right where you are this morning. And these guys were bringing them in as fast as they could cast back out!

Dad: (shooting me a grin) Is that right?

Boat Man: Sure is. When they left I got a good look at their stringer. Had to be 75 crappies on there!

In less time than it takes to clean some fish and get a good night’s sleep, our catch was already the stuff of legends….

I’m certain that whenever Boat Man has a bad day fishing, he finds hope in recalling the night that two handsome and athletic fisherman hoisted a bulging stringer of no less that 100 crappies from that same muddy lake.


  1. Posted July 30, 2010 at 12:59 pm | #

    Great story. If it wasn’t already about fishin’, I’d call it a good fishin’ story…

  2. Pa
    Posted August 1, 2010 at 11:34 pm | #

    Mighty handsome. Mighty athletic. Had to be (at least the athletic part) to crank in that many fish. And each one of the 150 tasted mighty fine!

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