When I was in grade school and high school in Groom, Texas (800 people, 42 miles east of Amarillo on Route 66) my physician father would go each year to the state medical meeting. After that meeting, he would take the family, including my grandparents to Lake Texoma for a five or six-day fishing trip for “sand bass.” We stayed at the same place and he fished with the same guide for years. He took me out of school and I count those times with him as some of my best memories. Of course, I remember dove and quail hunts with equal enthusiasm, but I think those fishing trips were about the happiest days of his life. I have not been back there to fish for all these years. I have a high school classmate who is a guide on that lake. I plan to go fish with him one of these days.
Last week I went to Texoma with some Kansas friends who put that trip together. Four of us rode down in a big diesel pickup which made the trip comfortable and easy. I had happy thoughts for the three days we were there. We didn’t fish for sand bass. The lake has become the namesake for striper fishing. The lake and river are perfect for striper reproduction and they do it with gusto! Our guide was a Kansas native well known to my fishing buddies. I can say without hesitation that Bobby Sharp is one heck of a guide! The secret to catching stripers is the nebulous ability to get bait. A throw net at 4 in the morning is not an easy trick. It’s not an easy trick at any time of day if I’m doing it — end of bait story. We loaded up in Bobby’s big boat with a 300 horse Yamaha — and roared 10 miles down the lake to a spot known only to God and Bobby. We had our limit in less than two hours. We had beautiful egrets, gulls, and terns cruising around the boat. We could see a big lake home on the shore that belongs to Blake Shelton. Reba McIntire supposedly has a place there also. That early morning sunrise with good friends all catching fish was one of those moments. We made the same trip on the second morning with the same outcome. We caught lots of fish!
When we arrived back at the marina we watched Bobby (he wouldn’t let us help) clean all those fish with more skill than some surgeons I have known. We then cut out the lateral line of each filet and had them packaged and vacuum packed for freezing all before lunch. It was a thing of beauty.
We went for dinner at a local casino. I’m not smart or lucky, so I limited my investment to $20. Casino food is really good, and people watching is spectacular. I managed to learn a little bit about one of the games from one of the guys and ran it up to about $60 in a couple of hours before losing back down to my original investment at which time I cashed out and congratulated myself for being wise. It is interesting to make that decision — all my urges said that I should put that $20 on one roll and then go home. I think that is what the casino wants you to think. My two buddies won enough money to pay for their trip and went home happy. I don’t know how often that happens, but it was fun to watch them do it.
I’m back home and the laundry is done and the gear is put away. The asparagus is cut, and my tomatoes are out in the garage hardening up for planting soon. It is really fun to go, but it is really nice to be back home. If you get a chance to make that trip don’t hold back! It is pretty spectacular!
Doctor Dan Witt is a retired physician and nature enthusiast.