Wive's War                             Steve Shoulders

Greetings Fisherfolk,

I'm sure there are more than a few of you who ocasionally wonder, 'That Shoulders fella sure does come up with some crazy stories.' Well, I'm here to tell you that most of the time my clients provide the tales, and this week is a doozy. It concerns the trials and tribulations of inviting your wife along on your fishing trip, and it explains to some extent why wive's aren't invited the following trip.

Ten days ago, new client and friend, Larry Jackson and his wife, Ivone, returned to Headwaters Fishing Club after having just been with us the previous weekend. On that trip Larry managed to land a 15lb beauty, while Ivone had to settle for a 9lb fish as her best effort. Rule #1 is to remember wive's will lull you into believing your are the king of the lake just so the pain will be more severe when they spring the trap.

This second weekend fishing trip began well for Larry as he quickly boated a 11lb and 10lb peacock bass. Ivone was full of congratulatory comments, but this was when the worm turn, and folks it turned plumb nasty. About fifteen minutes after enjoying the congratulations and Kodak Moment, Ivone landed a 13lb peacock bass. Larry did the obligatory high five and photo session with his wife, and then proceeded to get serious about landing one bigger than hers.

The tale of terror might have had a happier ending if Larry would have observed the narrowing of her eyes and the hardened set of her jaw, but he didn't and paid the price. Within moments he hooked and fought a large fish, which both he and their guide, Caesar, agreed was in the high teens for size. Finally wrestling the fish near enough to the boat to net, Larry was just putting the final pressure on the fish to pull it into the net when he felt a hand go running up his shorts leg and give a jerk on his Johnson.

Although not an unfamiliar touch, it was dang sure unwanted at the moment. Crossing his legs and hopping around the back deck of the boat isn't a technique advantageous to landing a large peacock bass, and the fish, probably a sister in arms, took the opportunity to wrap around a tree and tear loose. Larry claims he was quite civil in asking Ivone not to give him a short arm inspection while he was fighting a fish, and he says she just laughed and agreed to the request.

Moments later he hooked the partner to the previous monster size fish, got it near the boat, and this was when Ivone repositioned herself in the boat. Larry was so dang nervous and gunshy by now he completely forgot about the fish and took on a defensive posture. The fish again took this opportunity to escape back to the depths. For the remainder of the trip, Larry says that all Ivone had to do was move slightly in the boat, and he would curl up in a fetal position.

Friends, I'll be the first to admit I like for you to bring your spouses along on your trips to my camp, but one should know that there are no rules that apply when it comes to who lands the biggest fish. In fact, if your wife catches a trophy fish first, you might as well be fishing with a rabid Tasmanian Devil for the remainder of the trip.

Scotty Chauvin, a fine fella from down around New Iberia, Louisiana, was along on the trip with the Jacksons, but he fished with me the entire weekend. He wasn't my type, so his weekend was relatively uneventful except for landing his first ever 10lb peacock bass.

Scotty and the Jacksons were joined on the lake Sunday morning by Pat Anderson and his 13yr old son, Luke. This was their first trip to HFC, and bad weather in Puerto Ordaz had eaten up one of their fishing days, so they were only going to be able to fish one afternoon and the following morning before departing. Never let it be said we at HFC don't work well under a short deadline, because Pat went right out and caught a 16lb peacock bass, while Luke boated an 11lb fighter. Their guide, Angel, says that Luke had a true mega-size fish follow his bait right to the boat before making one near miss attack on it. Better luck next trip, Luke.

As Pat and Luke prepared to depart, we then welcomed eight fine gentlemen from the Pepino Peacock Bass Club (The name translates to the Cucumber Peacock Bass Club. I just write what they tell me, but with a mind like mine I can think of several things to say here but won't) from western Puerto Rico. They came to fish a four day tournament for peacock bass. Billy Vega, the club president, set the rules. Now the fact of Billy and his partner arriving at the dock late after each session didn't deter him from holding the rest of the gang to the correct rules either. Joining Billy were Adrian Padua, Osvaldo Bosques, Ramon Soto, JR Nieves, Adelberto Feliciano (no kin to Jose, because I heard this man sing), Julio 'Ņato' Malave, and Ricardo Ruiz. Big fish honors went to Julio Malave with a 14lb 15oz whopper. Osvaldo Bosques 14lb 6oz came in a close second for the tournament. In all my new Puerto Rican friends landed 43 fish from 8lb to 14lbs, and they landed well over 200 fish during their stay.

Big Game Woodchoppers, Bomber Long A, Chug Bugs, spinnnerbaits, Super Spooks, and the ever useful live bait were the best offerings of the week. I need to say right here that the Puerto Rican men did not use any live bait in their tournament. I'm sure some thought about it, but they were probably afraid of losing their Cucumber membership. I did tell them that some of my customers in Venezuela might make good prospective members of their club if they wished to expand internationally (I'll let ya'll figure that one out).

When I left the camp last Friday, the water level was 12ft low and rising at a rate of three inches a day. The water is clearing up throughout the HFC area, and topwater fishing continues to improve on a daily basis. This fall should deliver peacock bass fishing of a quality only dreamed about by many of you, so don't miss your chance to come enjoy the best year-round fishing Venezuela has to offer.

Bye the bye, my old buddy, Travis Crouch, is up in the states for his annual family reunion, so ya'll be on the lookout for someone driving around your area with a lost look on his face. Travis's sense of direction leaves a lot to be desired, but he is a dang fine fella and relatively harmless without a rod and reel in his hands. Hurry on back you old fart, and I'll gladly give you another lesson in how to make a 'Jumpin Minnow' shakes it's butt just the way the big peacock bass likes it. I know you can hardly wait.

I have open dates in September, so if you want to have a great fishing trip, just give me a shout and we'll work together to plan one with us at HFC.

I have also attached the photo of Bobby Cole, a veteran HFC fisherman, and his 16lb hog peacock bass he caught while fishing at HFC a month ago (Sure doesn't seem that long since you and I got so happy we couldn't hit the lake with a lure, and this was before lunch).

I am doing this for several reasons. One being Bobby is one of my best friends, two his fish is larger than JB Brown's, and three he doesn't get many chances to brag on his fishing while working in Iraq. Bobby, you can now tell Ladonna and Joe to eat their hearts out, because the big man has made his move.

P.S. Margo, I actually used the spelling and grammar option this time, but I thought it had more character when you had to guess my meaning most of the time. Keep an eye on Travis while he is in your neck of the woods.

Steve Shoulders, August 16, 2004