Skirmish At The Launch Ramp

Lake Lanier was about 25 miles north of my home in Lost Forest, in Fulton County, Georgia and offered some very good bass fishing. Sometimes I would take my 12 foot aluminum, boat and fish around the edges, always staying within electric motor range of the launch spot and other times I would go with a friend, Phil, who had a luxury, bass boat.

Phil, red headed with a temper to match, worked for me and helped me coach a Georgia Youth Football team and in college, had played middle linebacker for Auburn. He told me an interesting story about when he took one of his “official” visits to Alabama and met with the legendary coach, Bear Bryant. The Bear told him flat off, “Son, you’re just too small to play for me!” Phil played at 200 pounds and was 6 foot tall. He went on to Auburn and played against Alabama 3 times, winning two of the games. Phil was a tough guy!

Early one March morning, during a stretch of unusually warm weather, the sun was just peeking over the horizon and Phil and I pulled up to a launch ramp, near Cumming, Georgia and were first in line behind two fat men that were trying to manually launch an old fiberglass boat. We got out of the truck, began loading our gear into the boat, but couldn’t keep our eyes off these two fat guys trying to manhandle this old boat.

Walking over to them, I courteously asked the one nearest me, who was knee deep in the lake, if they needed any help and his reply, to say the least shocked me, “Hell no, we don’t need any “beep-beep” help and I’ll whip you’re “beep” if you don’t leave us alone!”

Taking this as a threat, I advanced on my adversary, but with the speed of a Southeast Conference linebacker, Phil jumped between us and I thought the fight was on. One look at Phil, red hair and red face, was all it took for Junior Samples, of Hee Haw fame, ‘ole BR-549, to back up and mumble an apology. Quickly saying, “We’ll get out of your way and you fellas can get launched.” All the while, his buddy, standing, slack jawed, on the other side of the boat and trailer, also in knee deep, water, never moved.

With their help, we launched and went on our way fishing and caught two nice 5 pounders and when we came back to the launch ramp, thank goodness, they were gone. We laughed when we discussed the possible newspaper headline, “Business Executives Fight With Prominent Entertainer Over Boat Launching Rights!”

The two things about this incident that I remember most were, one, we never introduced ourselves, and, two, he really was missing his front teeth.