Hookless Fishing

From 1966 to 1970 I was a member of an “exclusive” hunting and fishing club south of Danbury, Texas. The club catered to duck hunters and when it didn’t conflict with the hunting, allowed fishing and frogging. The club offered a nice air conditioned and heated lodge that slept twelve, a complete kitchen, including a cook and caretaker during duck season, game cleaning facilities and six, flat bottomed, aluminum boats and, on top of all of that, family members could use the facility for fishing, etc. without the member being present.

Besides the camp house and a hundred acres of woods, the club consisted of three lakes, or rice field reservoirs, of about twenty acres each. A deep channel was cut all around a square impoundment with the excavated dirt piled up to form a type of damn. There was about ten feet of shallow water along the damn’s inside before the excavated channel dropped off to over six feet. The channel, the only structure in the lake, was approximately thirty feet wide, sloping up to a large, shallow flat, two foot deep, which covered the center of the lake. The lakes were over twenty years old and had excellent aquatic vegetation flourishing in and around them. Plenty of snakes but, strangely, no alligators

My Dad was retired and his fishing buddy many days was Brad, his Grandson and my Son. Brad was five or six at the time and loved fishing with his “Poppy”. I was meeting them down there one Friday afternoon and my Dad and Brad went down early. When they arrived, the owner was draining one of the lakes. He was going to clean out the channels to increase the holding capacity of one of the reservoirs and it was down to only a square channel of twenty feet, or so, wide.

My Dad had told stories about low water conditions and pounding something against the bottom of a floating boat. This made vibrations under the water that caused the fish to jump into the air, some falling back into the boat. Hookless fishing! When flounder gigging in shallow water at night, I’ve seen salt water mullet become excited and jump into a boat.

Launching a boat into the channel, he and Brad, climbed in and while Poppy paddled, Brad smacked the bottom of the boat and the fish started jumping in. Brad was excited and laughing at the sight of the fish landing and flopping in the boat. Most of the fish were thrown into one of the adjoining lakes but Poppy kept three for supper that night.

I got down to the club in time to take this picture that clearly shows the low water channel behind the fishermen. One of the two adjoining lakes is visible in the background.

As soon as the picture was taken, Brad started jumping up and down wanting me to take him fishing and see the bass jumping into the boat. I did, and we quickly “caught” six more (in the boat) and put them in one of the other lakes.

What if a four or five foot alligator gar had jumped into the boat?