I remember one particularly hot day when we were having a crappie tournament on Okatibbee Reservoir north of Meridian. Morris King was my partner, and we were much younger and tougher then. Morris and I had prepared a special ice box for nothing but holding cold water with ice in it and some lightweight towels that we kept rotating in and out of our ice box, draping these cool, damp cloths over our heads, neck and shoulders.
And we'd come prepared with plenty of water to drink. I had read where on a super-hot day like this particular one an adult fisherman needed to drink two gallons of water during an eight-hour period to prevent dehydration. Of course we were lathered up with the best sunscreen we could find - especially me. Shoot, I blister on a cloudy day, not to mention a 100-degree day with full-blown UVA and UVB rays pounding me.
OK, so ol' Morris and I were ready for the heat and determined to stick it out for the full day. Like I said, we were much younger and tougher and, yes I admit, dumber back then.
Morris and I were on some good fish - good for Okatibbee anyway - in a huge brushpile on the east bank of the lake. We had caught more than enough to weigh in, and I think back then we weighed 30 fish per team - none of this modern-day seven fish, pansy-type limits. I mean we were "real fishermen" back then.
Along about mid-morning, my front depth finder on the trolling motor started fading and blanking out. Morris, sitting in the back of the boat, said, "This one back here is working just fine. Swap 'em out."
So we did. The two depth finders were the same model Lowrances, and swapping them in their mounts was a quick fix.
Now the new front depth finder was working fine. Funny thing was the one we'd sent to the back of the boat that hadn't been working on the bow started working again. Well, it wasn't but a few minutes until the front depth finder went out again, and the back one was now working fine. So we swapped from back to front and front to back again.
Repeat, second verse same as the first. Every 10 to 15 minutes we'd make the swap, and each time the "new" front depth finder would go out while the back depth finder (that just failed on the front) would start working again.
It was a real mystery that, at the time, Morris and I were too sun-stroked to figure out. So the next Monday morning I called Lowrance to ask a few questions and get a lesson on what my boat's problem might be. Of course I'm thinking wiring or circuit breakers or loose plug-ins are the problem.
When the Lowrance tech on the other end of the phone call asked "How hot was it?" I failed to catch the relevance and asked "Why, what's that got to do with it?"
"Well, sir," the kind lady said, "those units are designed to cut out at 165 degrees."
"Listen, lady, it was pretty damn hot, but it wasn't anywhere close to 165 degrees!"
"Sir, what color is the carpet in your boat?"
"Dark gray, why?"
"Is your front LCR mounted down on the carpeted area?"
"Where is your back LCR mounted, sir?"
"On top of the dash in front of the steering wheel, why?"
"What color is the dash, sir?"
"White, wh wait a second. I got it."
"Right, sir. That dark-gray carpet temperature was exceeding the operating temperature range of the Lowrance unit, and then cooling off to within the operating range once you got it off the carpet above a white surface."
"Well, I'll be danged!"
Got me a lesson on dark colors and ambient heat.
One other time that I recall ridiculously oppressive heat in the boat was the day I melted the soles off my shoes - no, really, the rubber soles on my cool deck shoes melted, or rather the glue holding the soles on melted. Too hot, baby, way too hot. What was I thinking?
Thank goodness, I finally grew out of such madness. I absolutely refuse to fish now in such dangerous and ridiculous conditions. That's probably one of the reasons the Magnolia Crappie Club's season has no hot-weather tournaments anymore. I may be only one member of the club's board - currently I serve as the president - but other sane board members share my "heat sensory" avoidance.
Speaking of which, the Magnolia Crappie Club will have two of our biggest events ever later this month. Boy, I hope it cools off some by then. Listen to this, and make plans now. We have 35 qualified tournament teams who will be competing in a two-day event on Grenada, Sept. 16 and 17. This is our annual Magnolia Crappie State Championship. The event is open only to club members who entered seven regular tournaments and earned at least 90 points during our 2010-11 regular tournament season. Get this!! Our total payout will exceed $22,000 - not bad for a bunch of perch-jerkers.
And, as president, I must say how proud I am of our club this year for having such a big year. We increased our participation in tournaments this past season by more than 15 percent. Our membership is at an all-time record high, and our 2011 State Championship will pay out at one of the highest levels in our 20 year history. Forgive me, but I'm impressed with what a bunch of dedicated, focused club leaders and members can do when we put our minds to it.
At a time when other similar activities and clubs are waning or had a slow year, MCC jumped up there like a fluorescent orange cork on a still dark pond.
And I said we were having two big events this month, right? On Sept. 17 we will hold our Second-Annual Big Mama Open at Grenada. This event requires no club membership. We drew 63 teams last year, and we expect to draw a larger crowd this year. The idea here is that our 35 teams who are already in competition on Day 2 of the State Championship will also enter the Big Mama Open. And, we'll have lots and lots of open teams fishing for one big fish on Sept. 17.
Check out magnoliacrappieclub.com, for full details and rules. Or, call me at 601-624-0359 for details.