Category Archives: Fishing Ramblings – My Fishing Blog

Random thoughts and musings about fishing

Rain On A Tin Roof

Afternoon thunderstorms the past few weeks brought back memories of the 1950s and early 60s. I lived in an old wood farm house with a tin roof until I was 12. The sound of rain on a tin roof instantly transports me back to those long, lazy summer days.

Many nights I went to sleep to the sound of rain drumming on the tin. Now I can hear that only if I keep a door open, so I can hear it on my tin roof wood shed. And I don’t do that much since air conditioners don’t work as well with open doors. Bach then that was not a problem since we did not have air conditioners.

Fans provided a little air movement and some cooling. Often at night when there was no rain I would put a fan at the foot of the bed, drape the sheet over it and let it blow up and over me as I went to sleep.
I think that is why I sleep better to this day with a fan running at night. Back then, rainy nights were usually cool enough that the sound of rain was all that was needed for a good night’s rest, but the fan ran anyway.

Weather was very different year to year back then, just like now. Some summers our home-made swimming hole on Dearing Branch would almost dry up due to the lack of rain. Others saw us trying to rebuild our dam almost every week since hard rains washed it out every few days.

We had other ways to beat the heat, too. An ice cold watermelon under the shade of the big pecan tree in the front yard was a great way to cool off on a hot afternoon. And running around under sprinklers under that same tree was fun and cooling.

Every few weeks we kids got a special treat. A couple of times each summer we got to go to Thomson and swim in the cement pool. It was always full of kids and the chlorine in the water made my eyes burn, but it was fun and cooling.

Even better was a trip to one of the two local ponds where the owners had made swimming areas, with sand beaches, diving boards and platforms. For a whole dime we could spend the day at Shield’s or Ansley’s pond, cooling with friends.

Shield’s Pond had a three-story diving platform. The top one was about 15 feet above the water and it took me years to build up the courage to jump from it. I never did try diving, it was just too scary.

When I fished local farm ponds I waded in jeans and tennis shoes. That kept me cool while I tried to catch bream and bass. And I discovered hidden stumps, channels and drop offs with my first “depthfinders,” my feet.

Rainy afternoons make me miss those days even more, when things were simple, and life was easy, for a kid.

Getting A Hook Out Of You

Hooks in your body are no fun, but there is a good, easy way to remove them if they are where you can get to them. And it helps to have someone else do it since you need two hands. You can’t do it alone if a hook is in your hand or arm

There are good illustrations of the process on-line, but you simply put a loop of heavy cord around the bend of the hook just above where it goes into your flesh, hold the eye of the hook against your skin, and jerk the hook out.

Holding the eye against your skin tilts the hook, making the barb go out the way it came in without catching. And popping it out quickly reduces the pain to almost nothing.

That would have worked well when I set the hook while cranking a big crankbait at Lake Martin. It hit a limb and I thought I had a bite, but when I set the hook the plug came over the limb that was just under the water, flew through the air and landed on my upper arm. One of the back treble hooks stuck in past the barb, going in far enough to have the other two against the skin.

My partner that day was a big, burly, tough guy. I told him what to do but when he looked at the hook he almost passed out and had to sit down. Since I could not reach the hook with both hands, I took a pair of needle nose pliers, grabbed the hook at the junction of the trebles and jerked it out.

I did not want to quit fishing and go find someone to help since we were miles up the river and the fish were biting. Luckily there was no pain and no blood at all. That injury never hurt even later in the day.

Sometimes it is best to just jerk the hook back out the way it went in but that can cause the barb to tear meat as it comes out. But it is usually less painful that cutting the hook and pushing it the rest of the way through.

It is important to have an up to date tetanus shot when you get any injury like a hook in you. For that reason, I keep mine current. You never know when you will hook yourself, but it will happen, all too often.

If you get a hook in you, I hope you have someone with you with a strong stomach!

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Hooking Yourself While Fishing

If you go fishing enough times, you will hook yourself. It takes only a second of inattention or some unusual motion of you, the fish, or even your tackle, to impale yourself. Hands are most often the on the receiving end of the point of the hook, but some of us have been hooked in many other places.

Sticking the point of a hook a little ways into a finger is common and is not much of a problem. But if the hook goes in past the barb it gets interesting. Barbs are on hooks so they don’t pull out of a fish’s mouth easily. Same thing works for your body.

My first memory of a hook that would not come out easily did not happen to me, but I caused it. Uncle Mayhu, Uncle Adron and I were fishing Usury’s pond in a jon boat. I was in the middle, a dangerous place for an eight-year-old.

I made a cast with a Crème pre-rigged worm. Those worms had three hooks in them attached to each other by a line. At least I tried to cast, the worm ended up as a decoration on Uncle Mayhu left ear. All three hooks were in well past the barb.

There was a lot of blood even before Uncle Adron took his pliers, cut the hooks and pushed the hooks the rest of the way through to get them out. And it did not stop us from fishing the rest of the day, although I didn’t have another plastic worm to use!

If possible and you can do it, cutting the hook and pushing it on through is good way to get a hook out. But its painful, and not always possible.

Two times I have had to go to the emergency room to have hooks removed. The first I was in my early 20s and fishing by myself at Clarks Hill from our ski boat. I cast a Little Cleo spoon and hung it in a bush. Since it was hot I was fishing without a shirt.

I snatched the rod tip to get the spoon loose, and it worked. The next thing I knew I felt a sting on my right side just below my ribs. When I looked down the spoon was hanging there. One of the treble hooks had disappeared into me and the other two were pressed flat, firmly against my skin.

It was weird, there was no pain. I cut my line, put the rod down and cranked the boat. I was fine until I got to the dock where mom was fishing. I stood up, pointed at the spoon, and almost fainted!

Since I had taught Life Science the year before, I knew there were some fairly important things not far under the skin where the hook disappeared. Mom took me to the emergency room where they numbed the area, slit the skin and fat and got the hook out. At least I was still able to use the bait!

The worst time was at West Point about 15 years ago. I had met a fisherman from Atlanta in my website chatroom and asked him to fish as my guest in a Sportsman Club Saturday night tournament. He met me at the ramp and we ran to a roadbed not far from Highland Marina.

On one of my first casts with a big crankbait I hooked a fish. When it got near the boat I started lifting it in. My rod loaded up and the fish came flying at my face. When I threw up my arms to protect my face, one of the hooks went into my wrist.

There I was, with a guy I had never actually met before that afternoon, standing with a spotted bass dangling from a plug that was dangling from my wrist. We finally subdued the fish to make it stop flopping and got it off the hook. It took some effort to take the split ring off the plug to get the hook off it. The hook would not move when we tried to pull it out.

There was no blood. We cranked up and ran to Highland Marina. It just so happened there was an EMT crew there. They took one look at the hook, said there was no way they would attempt to remove it, and told me to go to the emergency room. A drunk hanging around loudly offered to remove it, but I declined.

It was weird. If I wiggled my ring finger the hook would rise and fall. I found out later the hook had gone under the tendon for that finger. When I got to the emergency room and the receptionist saw it she called a nurse and that nurse called several more to look at the strange thing I had done.

Unfortunately, there had been a three-car wreck not long before I came in and the doctors were very busy removing glass from several people. I sat there for five hours, entertaining nurses and other patients with my trick hook, before the doctor finally saw me.

His surgical tools would not cut the hook, so he called the janitor and got a pair of hog nose pliers with a cutter. After sterilizing it he cut the hook, pushed it on through and sewed up the small hole.

I had left my partner fishing from my boat while I drove his truck, since it did not have a trailer attached, to the emergency room. We had never met before that day, but fishermen are like that.

I got back to the ramp with two hours left to fish. When I measured the little spot that caused all the trouble, it was just under keeper size and it was the only one I caught that night!

Be careful out there but no matter how careful, be ready to remove a hook!

Jobs Jobs Everywhere

I get to travel all over Georgia and Alabama doing “research” for my Georgia and Alabama Outdoor News articles. Two things stand out from those trips. One I realized several years ago. Alabama lakes, in general, have better bass fishing than Georgia lakes.

There are a variety of reasons, from water fertility to current flow, that make this true.

The second thing has become obvious the last couple of months. Everywhere I go, “help wanted” and “now hiring” signs are posted on businesses from small communities to large cities. From grocery stores and fast food places to trucking and welding firms, there are a lot of jobs out there.

In my opinion, anyone that can work can find a job if they want one.

Mom’s Cooking

I miss my mother’s cooking. Mom was a great cook. She baked cakes and pies for sale during my pre-teen years, and I always got to help. She taught me to measure dry and wet ingredients and how to mix both by hand and with an electric mixer. One of my favorite things about making cakes was that I always got to lick the bowls and beaters. Mom was nice enough to turn off the mixer before I licked the beaters most of the time.

I think that early training is why I love to cook now. I even enjoy going grocery shopping, something else I did with her on our weekly shopping trips to Augusta. We delivered eggs to Winn Dixie and A&P stores and did our shopping at them. We didn’t have to buy a lot since our farm supplied so many of our needs.

We had 11,000 laying hens so eggs were very plentiful, and milk came directly from our cows. A huge garden in the summer provided all kinds of vegetables including corn, tomatoes, okra, peppers, potatoes, string and butter beans, peas, rutabagas, turnips, onions, collard greens and asparagus. Fruit trees and vines gave us figs, pears, apples and scuppernongs.

Big pecan trees in the yard gave us all the nuts we wanted and lots to sell, too. And for a special treat we would labor to pick the meat from walnuts from a tree on the edge of the field.

Mom and dad spent hours picking vegetables and fruit and mom cooked and canned all summer. We had a huge pantry filled with jars of everything the garden and fruit trees provided. More went into the freezer.

Every summer dad could tell the exact day we should pull the corn and we would get up early that morning and fill the bed of the pickup with ears of golden corn. Back at the house we would shuck and silk it and mom would put up bag after bag of cut corn. I usually got to cut it with a tool I slid the ear down and a blade cut it off in to piles in a big bowl.

We found that we could blanch whole ears of shucked and silted corn, wrap each ear in tin foil and freeze it. It was almost as good during the winter as it had been fresh. Dad would fire up his fish cooker, fill the pot with water and blanch dozens of ears at one time.

Mom could turn fresh and frozen food into fantastic meals. Nothing was real fancy. Almost all vegetables were cooked with fatback and meat was baked or fried. We always had a bunch of frozen hens from our layers that had layed out, and we raised pigs for pork. We even raised a few calves for meat.

During hunting season there was always dove, quail, squirrels and rabbits to supplement our meat. And we always had fish in the freezer. There were no deer back then in our area but most of the red meat I eat now is venison.

Although I love to cook and don’t really think of it as work, I found out how much work it can be last week. I decided to cook a turkey on my Primo grill and make dressing, giblet gravy and green bean casserole to go with it.

Holidays meant piles of food for a week. Not only did we have baked hen and dressing, there was always ham, sausage, meat balls and all kinds of vegetables. And when we went to family’s houses we carried lots of food and everyone there brought their favorites. I especially loved Aunt Zelma’s deviled eggs.

My turkey turned out just right and my dressing, although edible, was nothing like mom’s. I never seem to get enough giblet gravy, so I made a huge pot, buying extra gizzards and hearts to go in it since that makes the gravy to me.

The gravy turned out good although it was my first try. But, although I had boiled five eggs the night before and got out the egg slicer, I forgot to put them in. The gravy was even better the next night when I heated it back up, added some more broth and the eggs.

Although I cooked only four dishes it was a lot of work, and I really appreciate the work mom did to make a dozen different things, all turning out perfect and right on time.

I still want certain things together since that was the way it was growing up. With baked ham I want string beans and potato salad. A Boston Butt demands turnip greens, rutabaga, peas, cut corn, tomatoes and corn bread. BBQ chicken is like ham, with those side dishes. Chicken fried cube venison is eaten with mashed potatoes and English peas. And pepper, onion and tomato venison steaks go with fried cabbage, rice and corn bread.

Mom could fry great chicken, as does my mother-in-law Marv, but I gave up after a few attempts years ago. Mine never turns out right. Since we had fried chicken every Sunday I miss it but get my fill at bass club meetings at Bryans Buffet. Its not mom’s but its not bad.

With everything but baking mom just cooked without measuring ingredients. I can’t do that. I need a recipe to follow for most things but do usually wing it a little, adding something or leaving out something depending on past experiences.

Linda is a great cook but since I enjoy it and she does not I do most of the cooking at my house. We hardly every go out to eat since I like my own cooking too much. But fried scallops are my favorite seafood and both Sixth Street Pier and Fishtales have good ones, so that is where we go for a treat.

Tomorrow is a feast day for many of us. I hope you have your favorite foods, cooked by you and loved ones, and enjoy it and the fellowship during this special time of year.

Alligators

This gator knew to go to the boat ramp for a meal

In five days fishing Lake Eufaula, I saw no soft-shell turtles and only a couple of painted turtles. There is a good reason they are not as common there as they are at Hartwell. Another resident of the lake keeps the turtle population very low.

Alligators abound at Eufaula. During my trip, I seldom fished more than an hour without seeing one, especially when near the bank. Around shoreline grass and lily pads, as my boat eased up the bank, every few minutes a log-like body would glide toward deeper water.

Alligators and turtles have inhabited our waters since long before people were around and have adapted well to man-made waters. When we build in areas where they live, they become a problem, especially when folks feed them. They get used to hand-outs and get lazy and are no longer afraid of people.

Turtles, fish, birds and anything else that gets in the water can be food for gators. And they learn where to get easy food. A few years ago, while doing an article at Eufaula, we were fishing a point early in the morning where shad were spawning. Bass and other fish were feeding on them, as were the birds. And gators were everywhere. They were eating shad, bigger fish and birds.

At Lakepoint State Park where I stayed there are tournaments every weekend and even during the week. Many weigh-ins are held in the basin where the boat ramps are located. A few bass die in tournaments and the live ones as well as dead fish are usually “released” near the ramps.

A big gator has learned there is easy food there many mornings. I was fishing under the nearby bridge and a gator slowly sawm by me headed into the boat basin. I followed it on my trolling motor. It went straight to the corner of the basin where several dead bass were floating against the bank.

I watched from a few feet away as it eased up to one, opened its huge jaws and grabbed a dead fish. It then raised its head out of the water, chomping and swallowing the fish. That gator was at least ten feet long, half as long as my bass boat, and its head was a foot wide.

After eating a couple of dead fish it slowly swam back around and under the bridge. I am sure it has a place where boat traffic is lower than it is in the boat basin, so it can doze the day away without being disturbed.

Gators are ugly and scary. The first one I saw in the wild scared me. Kenneth Hattaway and I were fishing a Flint River Club tournament at Eufaula in March 1980 and fished back into a narrow slough up the river. A gator about eight feet long was sunning on the bank about half-way back.

As we fished by it we looked at it but it did not move and did not really bother me. But after we passed it I looked back and it had eased into the water, moved to the middle of the slough and floated there watching us. We were in a 15-foot bass boat and I got real nervous.

I told Kenneth we needed to go, and he agreed. We went by the spot where the gator had been on plane!

Another time while at Eufaula I had been watching gators for two days. My boat was in the water in the campground with the nose on the bank. My battery chargers were hooked up at the back of the boat. The battery compartment was right at the back and the lid opened forward.

I went down to unhook them before the tournament that morning in the dark. To unhook them I had to squat on the very back of the boat with part of me hanging over the water as I reached inside. As I did that, I kept remembering how silently gators moved in the water, and that they liked to feed in the dark.

It was the fastest I have ever unhooked my chargers!

Gators usually won’t bother you during the day unless you bother them, or if you get near their nest or young. And they are seldom seen near Griffin, rarely moving above the Fall Line.

What Are Soft Shell Turtles?

Forty or fifty years ago, it was rare to see soft shell turtles on our lakes. But for the past ten years or so I have been seeing more and more of them while fishing. Soft shell turtles are seldom seen out of the water, but they look very distinctive when near the surface.

Common painted turtles that we often see sunning on rocks and logs in the water have a dark shell and yellow markings. They are everywhere, and I see them so often I even named a cove at Clarks Hill “Turtle Cove” there were always so many in it.

Soft shell turtles, named Florida Softshell Turtles, are a different family from other more common turtles. They are much flatter and look brown in the water. Rather than the sharp beak-like nose of other turtles, softshells have a long hog-like nose. And they have very long necks and much bigger webbed feet.

Softshells spend most of their lives lying on shallow, muddy bottoms, blending in with the mud. They don’t move around much. Their long neck and snout allow them to stick their nose above the surface to breathe. Bigger ones can extend to the surface from more than a foot deep. They feed on fish that swim by, grabbing them in their mouth by shooting their neck out.

The first softshell I ever saw was one caught on a trotline at Clarks Hill back in the 1950s. We were camping at Germany Creek and someone else in the campground brought it in. It was as big as a #2 wash tub.

Back then folks put out a lot of hooks for catfish, and sometimes, but rarely, caught a softshell turtle. If one was caught it was cleaned and eaten, since softshells are much easier to clean than other turtles. I think that is the reason they were so rare back then. Few people run hooks for catfish now so a big threat to the turtles has been removed.

The biggest one I have ever seen, and the only one out of the water sunning they I ever saw, was lying on a log at Lake Hartwell. It was huge, at least three feet across its back. Most of the time they are very shy and spooky but this one let me get close enough to get a good look before splashing into the water.

This time of year, turtles, including softshells, crawl out of the water to lay their eggs in holes they dig on the bank. You are much more likely to see them in the shallows. At Hartwell last week, in one small sandy cove, I counted five of different sizes. The biggest was about two feet wide and the smallest about a foot across.

In the ten days I fished Hartwell I saw more than a dozen softshells. I am glad they entertained me since I didn’t see or catch many bass!

Conservation VS Preservation

If you spend much time on Facebook, you will see many videos of people rescuing animals. A recent one shows a couple in a boat picking a hawk out of the water with a paddle and easing it toward the bank where it flies off. Many show divers cutting ropes from turtles and even whales.

Several videos show people helping bucks that have gotten their antlers tangled together while fighting. One shows a man carefully cutting a small tree to free a big buck with his antlers wedged around it, probably from rubbing it in the fall.

What is it in us that makes people want to take care of animals? Most of us have that desire to help when we see injured animals. Although we may hunt the same animals and catch fish to eat, we want to do it when legal, and in a sporting manner.

Kids as well as adults have this desire, even more so. Growing up there were many times I found baby birds that had fallen from their nests, doomed to die on the ground. It took only a couple of times putting them back in the nest, only to find them dead on the ground later, to realize the mother bird would push them back out, rejecting them probably because of the human smell.

One time while cutting our field with a rotary mower I saw a rabbit run ahead of me. I stopped and looked in the grass and found her nest, with several small rabbits in it. I carefully marked it and made sure to cut around it, leaving a small island of refuge for them.

That fall we were hunting that same field and killed a couple of rabbits. I remember thinking they may have been some of the same ones I avoided killing with the mower the past spring. But I felt no guilt killing, cleaning and eating them. That is the way of nature, predators killing and eating prey. But it is only human compassion that makes us want to protect the same animals at other times.

Dearing Branch on our property had some small bream and catfish in it. During dry summers it would dry up, being reduced to a few deep pools where all the fish went for refuge from the receding water. Many times, we would get the fish out of those pools, carry them to the house and put them in wash tubs with hoses keeping them full of water.

A few times we were able to keep some of them alive until the branch filled from rains. We would then take the survivors back to the branch and release them. But when the branch was full we would fish for them and eat any we caught.

The same attitude about protecting the resource is common among hunters and fishermen. We are the real conservationists. We believe in using our resources while protecting it. Taking some fish and game to eat does not harm the population.

Some “tree huggers’” the folks that want to totally protect everything in the environment without any human interference or change, never learned the ways of nature. They demand we leave deer alone and not hunt them. But that does not work.

There are almost no deer predators, other than humans, left in nature. Many examples, like Red Top
Mountain State Park on Lake Allatoona, show the facility of that approach. Deer got so overpopulated at Red Top Mountain that they ate all available food. Even the bark was stripped from young trees as high as the deer could reach.

Deer there were starving to death. Some do-gooders wanted to feed them. Others suggested giving them birth control to control he overpopulation. But the Department of Natural Resources realized the cost and inefficiency of both of those approaches, so they opened the park to archery hunting.

Within a few years the problem was solved, at no cost. Not only did hunters take enough deer legally to reduce the population to sustainable levels, they got food for their families. That is a much better solution for deer and people than the other silly suggestions.

Also on Facebook, you will see condemnation of trophy hunters that go to Africa to take game. The do-gooders want those hunters stopped, even suggesting killing them. The taking of Cecil the Lion is a good example. They are out of touch with reality.

Those hunters are strictly controlled, taking only specified animals. They spend a lot of money, often hundreds of thousands of dollars, for their trip. That money goes to local governments and much of it is used to control poachers, local folks that kill animals for monetary gain, with no though to long term effects. They often decimate animal populations to dangerously low levels.

Not only do local governments use money from hunters to protect animal populations, any animals killed are eaten by local people, feeding them. And the money hunters spend on local supplies help those same people.

In tournaments strict rules protect bass. Any fisherman bringing in a dead bass is penalized and catch and release is almost a religion among bass fishermen. After a tournament, bass weighed in are released back into the lake, with big tournaments going to the trouble of using boats with holding tanks to release fish all over the lake rather than concentrating them in one area.

Hunters and fishermen want to protect but use resources. Our license fees go to state agencies that are tasked with that goal. And money spent on fishing and hunting supplies have a special tax that is used for protecting resources.

Don’t condemn us. Join us in helping the natural environment while enjoying the products of it.

Planting A Garden

Did you plant tomatoes of Good Friday as tradition says you should? Are they still alive?

Growing up, we always planted a garden, a big one, supplying our family with most vegetables for the year. Mom canned or froze everything possible from it, so we ate good food year round. And she could cook anything and make it taste very good.

I usually hated working in the garden, wanting to be fishing or running wild in the woods in the spring when we had to plant and during the summer during harvest time. But I surely did like eating the products of our labor.

After my brother and I got married and moved away from home mom and dad continued the big garden and we helped a little when we could be there. Every visit home meant carrying frozen and canned goods back with us to eat until our next trip.

When I bought my house in Pike County with enough land for a garden, I tried to have my own. My lot was nothing but trees, so I cut and cleared about a half-acre of it behind the house. I will never forget dad visiting soon after I got it cleared and tilled, and he commented that it looked like good dirt.

That first spring I planted squash, tomatoes, corn, butterbeans, cucumbers and several other things. I got more squash than I could eat but, as the corn and butterbeans grew, we had a dry early summer and I found my well would not supply enough water to keep then alive.

Watching things I had worked so hard to plant and weed wilt and die was terrible. So I gave up.

After a few years I decided I had to have fresh tomatoes, so I crawled under the house, cut the shower drain and ran a pipe out from under the house to a small patch I had tilled. In it I planted eight tomato plants and four bell pepper plants.

Every time we took a shower the water drained out to the plants and kept them watered. It worked great for several years then the plants started dyeing way too early. I realized I had to move the plot every few years so did that, and it worked until I ran out of places the drain pipe would reach.

A few years ago, I dug a hole at the end of the drain pipe and buried a 55 gallon drum without a bottom or top. I put a sump pump in it so when the shower drains into the can it pumps the water anywhere
I want it around the back yard. That works well and I can move my tiny tomato and pepper garden around without running out of space.

I often wait too late to plant. Growing up we always planted on time and had fresh tomatoes by
July 4th. Procrastination this year could be a good thing. Hopefully sometimes in July this year I will be eating tomato sandwiches from just picked tomatoes. Nothing is better!

Losing Patrick F. McManus

Voices from the River: Losing Patrick F. McManus
By Chris Hunt
from The Fishing Wire

Years ago, after being abruptly transplanted from the high-mountain meadows of Colorado to the hot, sticky pine forest of East Texas, I found solace in the loss of my Rocky Mountain roots in the writings of men like Bob Saile, Ed Dentry and Charlie Meyers.

And I found the spirit to laugh about my predicament—for a Colorado kid, being transported largely against his will to Texas amounts to a premature death sentence—in the words of Patrick F. McManus. There were nights, early in my Texas furlough, that I giggled through tears at the books McManus shared with the world. I read them under the covers, of course, by flashlight until the D-size batteries faded and sleep followed soon after.

Sadly, McManus died Thursday at 84.

His vivid descriptions of fishing and hunting with the characters that influenced his own upbringing in rural northern Idaho inspired me to adapt to my newfound home and make the best of it. While I didn’t have friends named Crazy Eddie, Rancid or Retch, or a sister he called the Troll, I eventually collected enough buddies an annoying little brothers to stir up enough mischief in the Sabine River bottoms to while away sticky summer days in a state my mother would have been horrified to see in person.

Pat McManus was my inspiration. In fact, he may be why I gravitated to journalism after high school and college, and why that journalism took on a serious outdoor-writing bent shortly after that.

I know I’m not alone in my adoration for the words produced by the outdoor humorist. To this day, I occasionally find myself using phrases from his books and back-page columns in Outdoor Life in conversation and giggling all over again. From his books ranging from They Shoot Canoes, Don’t They? to A Fine and Pleasant Misery (My favorite was The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard), he provided a source of outdoor artistry that motivated me and many others to get outside, uncover the mysteries of the outdoors and experience life away from the television. He was, in a sense, the Mark Twain of his generation, an unassuming, gifted writer who found humor behind every tree and under every rock. We should all be so lucky.

I’ve handed his books down to my own kids, but, sadly, their magic seems to have faded a bit in the face of hand-held screens and an ever-running series of Ridiculousness videos that keep young minds sadly captivated and entranced. My daughter read his books voraciously as a youngster. My son never caught the bug.

His death has inspired me yet again—I’ll try once more to gently push his words on Cameron and see if, by chance, he’s ready to let them stick. McManus’ stories are often silly and slapstick, but from his writings about his days spent as a near-vagrant youth following tracks into the woods to his later descriptions of fatherhood and family, he has provided generations of outdoors people with true joy. I hope my son can experience that, too.

Rest in peace, Pat. Thank you for leaving behind so much inspiration. Your words have made my world better, and I know I’m not alone.

Chris Hunt is the national digital director for Trout Media. He lives and works in Idaho Falls.

McManus was one of my favorite outdoor writers. Ronnie