These are some nice fish!
"Mississippi Makeover" was one of the most educational shows we did in Season 1 of Outdoors on the Farm. I learned more about this unique part of the country visiting with Mr. Leigh Holland, Dr. Davis and my host for the week, Burke Fisher, then I expected. (Of course... if you spend a few days with Burke, you're bound to learn something!) While I was there, Burke showed me the way to one of the best steaks I've ever had in Greenville... and that catfish joint we ate at on the show was absolutely some of the best catfish and fixin's you can find anywhere. And he even fed me a traditional crawfish boil... complete with the red potatoes, sausage and sweet corn. Needless to say, I didn't go hungry visiting with Burke!
While I was in Mississippi in the middle of March 2010, Burke did sneak me into one of his favorite crappie spots for a little bit of fishing on our own without the cameras rolling. We had a great time... and I learned a new fishing technique. I'm a walleye fisherman... so when I hear "jig pole" I think about a spincast reel mounted on a 6- or 6 1/2-foot medium action rod with a sensitive tip to detect the light bite. In Mississippi, a jig pole is something completely different -- I got rigged up with a 10-foot pole that can only be described as a buggy whip. We used 6-lb. hi-vis line with a 1/16-oz jig tipped with a minnow. And while I'd like to say there was some sophisticated reel on this rig... but I had a plastic spool that's there to basically hold the line. I was used to this kind of a reel -- I've had several on ice-fishing poles over the years. But... Burke got us back in a tree-shaded pond with banks that dropped straight off to at least 6 foot of water. We'd take these long poles and guide the jig to a likely looking spot along the bank with a cyprus tree and drop is straight down -- sometimes less than a foot off the bank. And it worked!
Come on... admit it... that's a slab! We didn't fill a cooler or anything like that, but we did catch some awfully nice crappie using that setup. And I got to spend some time on a quiet pond with a really good friend talking about things that really matter.
I've been waiting for the right time to share another picture with you and since Mississippi Makeover was the only show to feature fishing in the first season, there's no time better than right now. Three years ago the whole Flory clan traveled to Orlando with our good friends for a week with "the" mouse. But, while we were there, I knew Thomas and I had to do some fishing. We'd both caught large mouth before (not Florida-style large mouth, but some good fish) so we thought we'd try something different. We'd seen plenty of fishing shows where they were "hunting" red fish, so we thought we'd give it a shot. I surfed the net looking for charters and found a guy we thought would be interesting on Mosquito Lagoon near Titusville, Florida. His name is Capt. Jon Lulay (link to Capt. Jon) On the south end of the Lagoon is Cape Canaveral where they launch the space shuttle.
It wasn't the best day for red fishing... Mosquito Lagoon is a very large body of water that might be four foot at the deepest spots. Because this is sight-fishing (find the schools and cast a bait in front of their noses), you don't want much, if any, chop on the water. On this day, the wind was blowing and the waves were rolling -- we almost didn't go out. Thomas started the day catching a sea trout of some kind... and we did find a school of reds we worked for a while -- Tom hooked up once on a red, but didn't land it. I hooked up on a red and had the same result.
So Capt. Jon decided to make a move to the other end of the Lagoon to fish off some sandbars. We caught some bait and made the move. We saw some fish, but just didn't have any luck. Then just as we were getting ready to call it a day, Capt. Jon says, "Tom... where's your line?" (While we were waiting, there were some other boats going by and we were doing a little sight-seeing.) Tom's line wasn't where it was supposed to be -- because a giant red picked up the bait and swam off with it. Tom reeled down to tighten the line, set the hook and the water absolutely exploded! Tom took his time... we pulled anchor and just let the boat drift behind this fish as it made run after run. Now... keep this in mind... a trophy red fish on Mosquito Lagoon is 28 inches long. Despite the fact that these are really good fish for the table, any red over 28 inches has to be released. That's about an 8- to 10-lb. fish.
Tom's red was 54 inches (yes... 54!!!) long and weighed an estimated 45 pounds. We were absolutely out of our heads. Capt. Jon even sent the picture to the newspaper and Tom's red was on the front page of the Orlando Sentinel sports page!! Now... that was an exciting fish! Check it out!
If it looks like I've got my left hand stuck down that crab-crusher's throat, I do... I'm holding onto the gill plate from the inside to keep it still for the picture. We (well... Tom) only caught one red on a cool, windy, overcast, poor-for-red-fishing day -- but if you're only going to catch one, it might as well be a bull like this! That fish went back into the Lagoon. We still haven't had a replica made... but maybe Tom can do that after he's pulling in a paycheck to cover that one!
Believe it or not... that fish started a string of wall-mounting experiences for Tom! I've got the pictures... and the stories. I'll share those later!
If you can't watch on RFD-TV every Thursday at 7:30 a.m. CT or Saturday at 10:30 a.m. CT, you can always watch the shows here on the web site.
And most importantly, keep on having fun outdoors on the farm!