Our love affair with beautiful Mark Twain Lake began in 1985, a year after the 18,600-acre Army Corps lake was opened for recreational activities. My wife, Jan, and I have spent an untold number of days boating, camping, sharing the outdoors with family and friends and fishing for our favorite fish, crappie.
Timber Ridge Resort near the Cannon Dam has become a second home since 1993, the year of our retirement. Dennis and Jodi Gill, along with their children, Cody and Anna, have become family since their ownership of the beautiful resort.
We have encountered hundreds of anglers, boaters and outdoor enthusiasts over the years, and the friendships and memories are true treasures. And God willing, there will be more to follow.
It was during a crappie fishing outing in my boat with another Timber Ridge guest that the question was posed: “Larry, do you have any boat rules?” The answer was somewhat spontaneous with little thought given at the time, but later I gave more consideration to the question and came up with the following “Reid Boat Rules.” Since that fateful day, if someone accepts an invitation to go crappie fishing, it’s always fun to say: “By the way, Jan and I have a few boat rules that we ask our guests to follow.” Over the years we’ve become serious about most; you’ll probably figure out the “just for fun” ones. After all, we live in a world of rules and regulations that govern our every move.
Reid boat rules
1. When the Mercury 4-stroke is running, everyone on board must be wearing his or her life jacket. (The kill switch is attached to my jacket.) It amazes me that all boaters do not follow this rule. Should be a no-brainer; just like wearing a seat belt in a vehicle.
2. No alcohol on board. Sorry, but I’m a firm believer that alcohol and water do not mix, whether you’re driving or riding in the boat. There will be plenty of time to toast the trophies with both feet on solid ground.
3. No minnows. Nothing against the little guys or those who use them, but we’re strictly artificial bait. Our success over the years is a testimony to our choice.
4. Can’t stand on the rod lockers or railing of the boat. “Both feet on the floor” is what we tell the grandkids. First off, it’s dangerous to put yourself in a position to fall out of the boat. Second, I’ll get you closer to the brush; just ask. There is also the case of the cracked lid of my boat’s rod locker.
5. No smoking. Yeah, I know, but the carpet in the boat is special. It has no burn holes and I can’t stand litter.
6. Can’t talk about what medication you are taking or what’s ailing you. This rule gets a little latitude and leeway since many of my crappie fishing friends are seniors. Guess what; most, if not all, disobey this rule because they are ailing or “on the take.” But, come on, we’re fishing to have fun and forget our cares and woes.
7. Release all largemouth bass. This one is fairly simple. There are many guys and gals, either sport or tournament fishing, going for that “ol’ bigmouth bass” and depleting the numbers takes away from their chances. Granted, bass are a blast to catch and mighty tasty, too; but let’s give ‘em a break.
8. Crappie must be 9 inches in length to make the box. This rule has some latitude, especially if your grandkids hook and boat an 8-incher. “Can we keep him, grandpa?” You are aware of the answer, right?
9. Don’t brag about the biggest or the most. I shouldn’t have to go into detail. When said angler gets home, the story goes that they either caught or lost the biggest fish of the day and most times the line is, “I got so tired of catching I quit trying.”
10. Wear your hat backward or take the sucker off when we’re traveling high speed from one spot to another. It’s inconvenient, unsafe and silly to have to turn around and retrieve a soaked hat that you are not going to wear. (I always have a couple of spares in the rod locker.)
Well, what do you think? Although they are never posted, and only a few are strictly enforced, we have fun with them; and, that my friends, is what fishin’ is all about. Be safe out there; we’ll see you at ’Twain.
Larry Reid is host of “Outdoors with Larry Reid,” which airs at noon Sundays on WBGZ Radio, 1570 AM.