My wife is a pretty tolerant woman when it comes to my outdoor exploits. Of course, she should be, giving she knew what she was getting into when she said “I do.” At least she should have known. Shortly before our wedding in 2010, I had a few friends that were adamant about throwing me a bachelor party. Now, I’m not the bar hopping type, or the casino type, and certainly not the gentlemen’s club type, so our options were pretty limited. The only reasonable choice was some kind of fishing trip. We decided on a bowfishing trip in the South Delta.
Amy’s family owns a house situated on Eagle Lake, just north of Vicksburg. Her aunt was gracious enough to give me a key for a few days, provided we didn’t burn it down. Myself and three other friends loaded up boats and gear, and headed toward the Delta. You know how we all go through phases in life where we get really caught up in a particular activity or hobby? For me, during this phase of my life, I was absolutely eaten up with bowfishing. I was first introduced to it by Ben Tharp, and I had gone on a few trips with BJ Lynchard. Both of those guys were bowfishing experts, having both grown up along the Mississippi River and its oxbow lakes. The two of them became our guides, and we let Michael Fuquay tag along for the trip as well. It’s the least I could do after sinking his boat.
We arrived at the lake house and quickly threw together a plan for the first night. That’s right, I said the first night. This bachelor trip was going to last for at least three nights of fishing. We rigged up our equipment, dumped the boats in Eagle Lake, and began to search for fish. The boats were both equipped with large casting decks up front that had lights hanging on all sides to shine the fish. Ben had a custom built center-console fan boat made specifically for bowfishing. It wasn’t long and we were shooting fish left and right. The targeted species were catfish, gar, buffalo, and carp. We would throw the catfish into a large marine cooler and the other fish into a large barrel.
The air on Eagle Lake was hot and muggy that first night. We shot fish all night long and made it back to the dock as the sun was coming up. I don’t know how many fish we shot that night, but I know we didn’t have any space left in either boat the next morning. I can imagine we smelled fantastic with the combination of sweat and fish guts. We trailered the boats and headed back to the lake house to clean our fish. After the work was done, we washed the stink off and caught some much needed sleep, however, we didn’t sleep for long. The plan for the second day was to head over to Steele Bayou in the afternoon and try to shoot some big gar in the daylight hours. Sleep was something we’d just have to get once the trip was finished.
The second night was much like the first. While we were unsuccessful in landing a large alligator gar during the day, we still filled the boats up with fish that night. The only real difference were the alligators. As we slipped through the flooded areas surrounding Steele Bayou, the number of alligators we encountered were staggering. I stopped counting after I surpassed one hundred different sets of red eyes shining in our lights. Chills ran down my back thinking of what might happen if one of us were to fall out of the boat. We’d shoot a fish and have to quickly reel it into the boat before a gator stole our catch. In all of my life, I’ve never been anywhere else with that many alligators that wasn’t some kind of alligator farm.
Once again, we came in with the morning sun. On the way back to the house we stopped at a gas station just off of the lake. A gentleman was sitting outside having a morning smoke when we pulled in to grab a snack. He asked how many fish we shot that night, and when we showed him I thought his eyes were going to pop out of his head. Our conversation turned to cleaning the fish, and we let him know we most likely wouldn’t clean the carp and buffalo. He walked over to an old Buick sedan, popped the trunk, and instructed us to throw whatever we weren’t going to clean into the back. Look, it’s June in Mississippi. It’s hot and I know what that drum full of fish smelled like. He didn’t care and told us to just dump it in there and he’d take care of the rest. When he slammed the trunk shut, full of bloody fish, he turned to us, grinned, and said he’d be right back here the next morning if we wanted to give away some more.
After a shower and about 6 hours of rest, we were headed back to the water for a final night. This time we went to lakes Chotard and Albemarle. Once again, we filled up two boats with enough fish to feed a small army. The next morning we stopped at the same gas station on the way back to the house, and the same old man was sitting there waiting for us. I don’t know what he did with all of that fish the previous day, but that Buick was empty. We happily filled his trunk up for him again and headed back to the house.
Upon returning home, I slept for two straight days. I don’t recall ever being so exhausted from doing something that is supposed to be relaxing. If I wasn’t convinced that Amy was a keeper before this trip, I was surely convinced afterward. She never gave one negative smirk or comment regarding the dreaded bachelor trip. I was also convinced of another thing after this adventure, I have the best friends in the world.