Having always said, “I’d rather be lucky than good!” this hunting/fishing trip convinced me. Back in the 50’s and 60’s, dove season in Texas was afternoon shooting only. There were lots of birds and the thinking was, let the birds rest, feed and it will keep some of the pressure off them. Today, with all day hunting, that thinking is history because now we have an overabundance of dove, mourning, white wing and ring necks.
This particular hunt, or better a fishing trip, took place in Falls County, Texas where my dad and I had enjoyed some fabulous afternoon, water hole, shooting for mourning doves. My uncle Shelly, Shelton Gafford, had directed us to a couple of stock tanks where there were an abundance of doves and we were rewarded with some good action.
Our mornings were free, so Shelton told us about another place where we could fish, but the rancher allowed no guns or hunting. This was no problem for us! Uncle Shelly was careful with his instructions on how to get there, he told us to take Hwy. 7, east out of Marlin, cross the Big Creek Bridge, and turn right at the second gap, or wire gate in the fence, and follow the road to the stock tank.
Following the instructions, the second gap was almost to Kosse, Texas, and ignoring the “Posted” sign, opened it and followed the dirt road until we came to an old, rock quarry that was no longer in use. Not a stock tank, but looking into the very, clear water, it was easy to see bass milling around, plus several large bream beds.
Keeping the sun in our face, we stood several feet away from the water and whipped our Piggy Boat spinner baits toward the fish. Immediately, we were both rewarded with two sharp strikes and soon landed two scrappy, 12 inch bass. They were unusual looking little fish with large mouths and small bodies and we guessed, correctly, they were stunted and for the ferocity of their strikes, probably undernourished.
We kept on casting, catching and stringing the little fish. We added several, good sized, goggle eye perch, fish that looked somewhat like a bream, but slimmer with their eyes protruding from their heads. Goggle eyes are good fighters on light tackle and very tasty when fried!
We returned all of the really small ones, but ended up with 15 keepers. We iced them down and retraced our route off of the property and headed back to Shelton’s ranch for lunch. Lunch was the big meal of the day and as we loaded up, we reviewed our morning trip with him.
He smiled and shook his head and asked, “You went right through the “Posted” sign? Did they catch both of you all?” “Who’s they?” my dad answered. He replied, “Mr. so-in-so or his Foreman. They have some expensive bulls on the place, besides there’s a lot of quail and they don’t allow anyone but family out there!” Answering him, I said, “Uncle Shelly, we didn’t see a soul all morning!” He just smiled and shook his head.
As he headed into his den, he looked back, smiled and said to both of us, “You shoulda’ turned left at the second gap!”