By Larry Dablemont
I have a bait box in my basement that is made for crickets. Personally, I never used crickets, I always had minnows and night-crawlers and crayfish for most of my serious fishing as a kid. On one occasion, I used a big grasshopper on my Uncle Roy's farm pond. My cousin Butch and I had a pair of old cane poles, and I took the lead weight off the line and hooked the grasshopper so he would float and kick. A big old hefty bass, (which was only about two pounds...but back in my youth, that was a dandy) came up and nailed it. That was an exciting day.
But I never did use a cricket, not even once that I can think of. Bluegill fishermen swear by them though, and if I remember right, I have seen bait shops with large containers just filled with crickets, and they were selling them for a respectable price. I bring this up because all of a sudden, here on Lightnin' Ridge, there are crickets everywhere in my sheds and even in my basement. If they are indeed good bait, and someone would buy them, I may get rich!
There are black ones and brown ones, small ones and big ones, and I'll sell a dozen for a quarter, obo. Obo means I'll take any respectable offer, but I'd like to have a quarter a dozen. It sort of reminds me of the time my dad sold my old 1950 Ford when I was a kid still too young to drive. He told the guy who came to look at it that he was asking $100 dollars for the car but he would take $50. I always wondered why he didn't just say it was $50 dollars and be done with it, but Dad said it was the way you conducted financial business...you made someone think they were getting a better buy than you wanted to give them.
So although I want a quarter per dozen for my crickets, if you'll come into the basement and help catch them, I will sell them to you for your best offer. It is really hard to get them out from underneath my pool table. If you are a bait shop owner, and will promise to catch a hundred or more, I will pay you a quarter to come here and help me catch them, then we'll work the rest out on a commission basis.
I notice that it is really hard to step on a cricket. I guess crickets have especially well-developed reflexes, because they are very good at jumping when your foot is only a few inches above one. I realize what I must have looked like, trying to stomp several crickets at once which were faster than I was. Rap stars may have gotten started in cricket-infested neighborhoods.
On a more serious note, in a recent column I asked the Corps of Engineers to respond to a problem about seeing fish entrails and carcasses all over a popular launching ramp known as Fairfield on Truman Lake. I did so after I saw a man get out of his pickup as he launched his boat, slip on a slimy clump of fish entrails and fall hard on the concrete. The Corps didn’t much like me writing about it… they never contacted me at all even though I asked them too. I wanted to get their side of things, as they apparently feel that dumping of fish carcasses at a launching ramp is not something they are obligated to do anything about. Three different people who live in the area responded pretty much the same. They told me about a very efficient fish-cleaning station at a big recreational vehicle operation and store a half-mile away where local R.V. owners and other area fishermen leave carcasses and entrails in a big tub.
The man whom I saw emptying the tub at the launching ramp said the campground owner sent him there each evening to do it. The Corps went to him and asked him about it and he said he had nothing to do with it. Of course when I asked others, they said he did. I guess the Corps Ranger who looked into it didn’t ask anyone else. But the official word from them is that the campground and storeowner has nothing to do with the problem. Anyhow, I am pleased to announce that I used that ramp a few days ago and there were no carcasses or entrails to be seen anywhere.
Apparently, the situation is this: It is against the rules on Truman lake to dump live alligators, cottonmouths, dead dogs or cats, human bodies, household garbage or junk vehicles at the ramp. But as for fish entrails and carcasses it is questionable. If you get out of a vehicle to launch your boat and fall because the ramp is a little slick with dead fish, that is your problem. You need to be more careful. If I ever get any Corps people to talk with me, I will give their side of the story.