Two Decades of HFC Fishing          Steve Shoulders

Howdy Fisherfolk,

I am proud to say that since my last fishing report, I haven't been attacked by my watchdogs at home, haven't been struck by lightning, haven't experienced an earthquake and haven't been even close to drunk. So, as you might guess, I'm bored to death and now must invent a report for this week. Those that know me understand that in order to write a fishing report, I need very few facts, just the events, and I fill in the facts as my mind so decides what they are. If by chance you are mentioned by name in one of my stories today and wish to contest the facts as presented, tough luck because I do not write corrections.

Over the past twenty odd years, there have been some interesting, disturbing, mind boggling, irritating, memorable and, most of all, hilarious events taking place at HFC. This week I thought it might be fun to recall just a few.

Back in the late 90's, I received a call from two college exchange students from the U.S. that were down in Venezuela on a Rotary Club grant and, as their time was just about up and they both loved to fish, they were wondering if they could come fish one weekend. When I told them what it cost per day, I could hear Patrick, the student with whom I was talking on the phone, catch his breath. He explained that he believed they would have to pass, since they were both running very short on funds. I asked what they could pay and he replied that if they came over on a bus from Caracas, they could probably pay $100 a day. I don't know what came over me, but I told him that if they could get to Puerto Ordaz, I would give them a two day trip free of charge.

They arrived in Puerto Ordaz and I had them picked up and driven to El Manteco for the boat ride up to the camp. Neither of them had any fishing tackle, so I sent a couple of my rods and a tackle box along with Angel, who was to be their guide, who I gave instructions to let them fish a little bit on the way up the lake.

That night about dark, they arrived at the camp. Both of them had smiles on their faces that Ajax (my dog) could wipe off. In the very first place that they had stopped to fish and on. Patrick's very first cast with a Big Game Woodchopper had hooked and landed his dream fish, which was an 18 lb beauty . His partner later caught a 14 lb chunk of peacock bass and, since his previous big fish was only 4 lb, he was definitely happy.

Toward the end of their trip, I asked them what time they needed to be at the bus station for the long ride back to Caracas, and they told me it didn't matter much, since they were both broke and were planning on hitchhiking. When it was time for them to go, I drove them out to the nearest town with a bus station, bought them express bus tickets back to Caracas and presented them with a Styrofoam icechest full of sandwiches and soft drinks to tide them over until they got there. When they asked me why I had done all of this for them, I told them I wasn't exactly sure since I was so broke I couldn't afford to be a charitable organization. Maybe I just would like to think that if one of my children ever were in the same situation, somebody would take time to care. To this day I still feel proud of myself to have done that.

Also in the late 90's, I had a couple from Midland-Odessa, Texas come fishing. Now Todd is a very good fisherman and his wife, Linda, just fishes and takes what comes. During this one special trip, they were fishing with their guide, Angel, when Todd had a monster fish slam his bait and, after getting a good hook set, the fight was on. Now Todd is like many of us fellas that have past the half century mark in that someone stole his butt cheeks and left him rather flat on the backside. This is important because as he was leaning back and straining to control the big peacock bass he had yanking on his line, the physical act caused that little butt he had left to clench even tighter. This in turn allowed his shorts to start sliding down past his waist on a beeline for the floor. Linda, being ever so observant, immediately grabbed the camera and recorded the following events for posterity and for my fishing report. About all Todd could say after the fact was that, first he wasn't going to stop fishing the fish to grab his falling pants, and, second, he was dang sure glad that Linda had bought him some brand new underwear for the trip and the unscheduled photo op.

Then there was a truly special day that occurred not long ago involving my good friend, Jim Good, and his pretty wife, Ele. Now Jim would rather you whack him in the family jewels with a boat paddle than have him use a George bait. Not that he doesn't own a multitude of these baits, but for some reason, I'm voting on hardheadedness, he just hates to use one. Well, Ele has no such restrictions and, since Jim would not put one on for her to use, she did the next best thing and that was to go out fishing with me and HFC guide, Santos. First thing that morning I tied on a George for Ele, and from the first cast she was catching fish and singing the George song. While fishing had been slow the previous days, Ele and I managed to George up 33 peacock bass that morning from 5-15 lbs, seven over 10 lb. Jim went out using his normal lures that morning and came in with only three little fish to his credit. So you can imagine how happy Jim was for Ele when she began to tell him about George doing this, George doing that, and what great fun it was to fish with George and sing the song. I believe it was about then that Jim mentioned about cutting my life short.

Now as much as I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Jim squirm at lunch that day, it paled in comparison to what happened that afternoon when Ele went out fishing with him and demanded she would be allowed to fish with Senor George. When the water quit frothing and Jim and Ele returned to the camp that evening, I noticed Jim coming up the hill with a serious scowl on his face and murder in his heart. Ele had put another major butt whipping on him by catching a 16.5 lb brute with her George and Jim wasn't taking it well at all. For the entire evening, all I had to do was look at Jim and start laughing until I would be crying. I would like to thank Ele for being such a great student and for giving me such a great story to tell around the camp at night - or like right now in my report.  

Friends, I could tell hundreds of stories like these, but I would much rather you come to HFC and make your on stories. We have been doing this for folks for the past two decades, and the good Lord willing, we will be doing it for some time in the future. We have the big fish, we have the space, and all we need is you to come.

Topwater season is here; so, if you are like Jim, good and do not wish to throw a George, just take out your favorite topwater and get after it. Huge explosions will be the order of the day for many months to come, so I know you don't want to miss out on the action. Just send me an E-mail with your preferred dates, and I will work with you to make it a reality.

                                                          Steve Shoulders, September 26, 2010