Bob Simpson: A final fish story

November 15, 2012 

This is my last fish story.

Gene Huntsman says the upcoming fresh water season will be outstanding. Remember last year Hurricane Irene brought flooding to the eastern Carolina waterways and rivers, resulting in the depletion of life sustaining oxygen levels and massive fish kills. Skeptical, we tested these waters several times to find once very productive waters apparently fishless.

This past week, Gene sought to entertain a distant relative on his first visit from Germany. The lad, who despite being descended from counts, had never experienced “angling.”

They headed for one of our favored holes and Gene’s guest hooked a nice crappie almost immediately, a first or second year hatching. From then on, they almost had to fight to force the eager fish to wait their turn at the lure. Gene deduced that a combination of a lack of predators and an abundant first year hatch bodes well for the future.

Signs of good fishing

Excited by such fishing, they scarcely noted a black bear, perhaps a 200 pounder, peering down at them. Both anglers and bear quickly sought fresh company. A sure sign of good times ahead was the abundance of small boats working the State Port and lower Newport River waters recently. Like any waterman understands, bait fish draw gulls and it doesn’t take many seagulls to bring on eager fishermen. But the clincher came when Gene Huntsman, Terry Smith (president of Carteret Wildlife Club) and Roger Mays (research boat skipper) arrived with their wives at our waterside shack beside Peltier Creek in a successful effort to get us to help consume their catch.

They estimated they’d encountered more than 40 boats fishing for Carolinas’ most popular game fish, spots so eager that anglers had to cease before the fish ate the bottom out of their overloaded boats.

An exciting career

As this will be my final fish story, a historical recounting.

I found myself entering the writing business following World War II when the University of Miami suggested the journalism dean had been finding too much pleasure enjoying the university’s sport fishing program, resulting in the stranding of U of M’s sport-fishing skipper, me.

Hungry, with bills to pay, Jim Emmett of Outdoor Life came to my rescue, suggesting I write of my boating adventures for yachting and fishing publications, thus introducing me to a long and exciting career alongside fellow outdoors writers Franc White and Jim Dean.

In the 1950s I was asked by The News & Observer to contribute an outdoors column and have written for the newspaper for decades since.

During these busy years, while attending an outdoor writers’ conference in Montana, I became aware of humor writer Pat McManus of Sandpoint, Idaho. Both of us were submitting to similar publications and we exchanged some tall tales. Recalling Pat’s tale on philosophy and fishing, I borrowed heavily on it as a base for my outdoor column, published November 1. I apologize to my readers; I should not have used Pat’s words without crediting him.

Due to my lack of mobility these days – I turned 87 in September – which keeps me from enjoying the outdoors as I have in the past, and after being admitted to the local emergency room last week, feeble and sorta out of this world, I figure it’s time take it easy for a while. While it’s been more fun for me than I can describe, it’s time to hang it up. For those seeking careers in writing, I’d suggest considering requesting state/federal status, including expense account, travel pay, retirement and wage guarantees. The freelance writing road is rough and tough, but the payoff comes with being independent and having fun.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service