Finding Fish Zombie on Cooper Lake

Fish Zombie Cooper Lake1

It’s funny how sometimes we will run across something that sparks a memory from good times past. A recent thread on Texas Fishing Forum (TFF) asked if it was advisable for a kayaker to be towed by a power boat. The original poster was planning to have his dad tow him and his kayak across a lake to the mouth of a creek. Being towed would save the yak angler an hour of paddling each way but he wanted the opinion of some of the more seasoned kayakers on the forum. It was a good question that sparked a thoughtful discussion on the topic. But the question also rousted old memories of mine–memories of a trip involving fish, traffic, zombies, and a nice family with a pontoon boat.

Maybe I should start at the beginning.

I agreed to go fishing with Fish Zombie. No, not zombie of the brain-eating, dead guy variety, but a fishing bud whose TFF call sign happens to be Fish Zombie. The nickname actually suits him well, and if you ever get to meet him you’ll see he’s a larger than life character and a “balls to the walls” angler, all in, all the time, and if you’re fishing with him, you better keep up. Whether chasing birds across a large Texas impoundment–in kayaks, or jon boat trolling Lake Tawakoni for hybrids during a rain squall, Zombie fishes like a possessed…well, zombie.

And as everyone knows, it’s hard to kill a Zombie, which explains his penchant for cheating death. A couple of years ago, Zombie and three of his friends capsized their boat in wintertime Lake Lewisville. He managed to swim back several hundred yards to shore, barely, where he proceeded to enter the first house he came to, without so much as a mother may I or a  by your leave, and he ran into the bathroom in this new, strange house and felt the uncontrollable urge to tear off his clothes. He turned on the shower, full blast hot and jumped in.

You have to realize that by the time Zombie made it to shore, his core body temps had already dropped significantly and his brain wasn’t firing on all cylinders. But after a few seconds in the hot shower, his blood began to warm, he started regaining  rational thought, and he remembered his friends. He shouted out something incoherent to the home owner, who by now was probably more than a little curious about the strange, naked guy in her shower. Zombie’s head cleared some more, and he managed to tell to the home owner about his buddies still being out on the lake, clinging to the capsized boat.

The shocked home owner called in the cavalry, and Zombie’s friends were all plucked out of the cold water. Everyone  survived, but as you can see even back then Zombie was something of a legend among us North Texas yak anglers. From our perspective he was a superhuman paddler and ardent angler with a no holds barred mindset. So when he invited me to chase hybrids with him and his crew on Cooper Lake, of course I jumped at the opportunity. Anyone would have done the same.

Fish Zombie Cooper Lake2

Fish Zombie (middle) with Dan and me after a day of chasing hybrids from a previous trip to Lake Tawakoni. Beware fish: Zombies come out at night.

When the day came, I caught traffic trying to escape Dallas, and arrived an hour late. The first thing I noticed was the lack of said Zombie or any of his crew for that matter. They’d launched without me. Thanks guys. I guess I couldn’t blame them;  I was after all an hour late. As I was getting ready to start paddling, I realized that I wasn’t sure in which direction to go; it was my first time on the lake and I couldn’t actually see them (Cooper’s a damn big lake). Then, as I stood there pondering my options, an older gentleman walked up to me. I’d seen him getting his pontoon boat ready to launch, with three or four young kids. He said he and his wife were spending the day on the lake with their grandchildren, but he couldn’t quite seem to get his boat down the ramp and into the water, and he asked me if I could back the boat down for him. I looked up and saw his wife and their grandchildren all in the boat at the top of the ramp, wearing their vests, just itching to get on the water, so of course I agreed. I managed to get the boat in the water in short order, and then I had an idea.

I asked them if they would tow me out to the middle of Cooper Lake to find Zombie. They agreed and towed me in my Scrambler XT with a rope clipped to the front of my yak. The grandmother sat in an aft facing seat and watched me with the rope in her hand. I instructed her to release the line if I got into any trouble. But the Scrambler took the few waves we caught well, and because I was directly behind the big slow pontoon boat, there was actually a flat wake that provide a smooth ride until we found Zombie’ and his crew.

Of course, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve never been accused of being the brightest bulb in the box. As a general rule, it’s not very safe to be towed by a power boat unless the conditions are just right and the boat operator understands that they have to take it really slow. And even then, there are too many things that can go wrong that will cost you lots of money or a day at the emergency room. So a better option might be to tow the unloaded kayaks with the passengers and gear in the boat. It’s a lot safer and will get you to your destination faster.

Better yet, just paddle there, and try not to think about my story, the moral of which is: if you’re fishing with Zombies, don’t be late.

DCIM100SPORT

Off the water, Zombie’s an interesting cat and a great guy to have a beer with. On the water, it’s all about the fishing.


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  3 comments for “Finding Fish Zombie on Cooper Lake

  1. Chris Payne (paynespaddlefish.com)
    March 20, 2013 at 9:03 PM

    Great stories always seem to follow Zombie. I hope to get to fish with him some day. Thanks for writing this up Bert. Hopefully everyone can make the GTG in April. Hope to see you guys there!

    • Bert Rodriguez
      March 22, 2013 at 9:38 PM

      No doubt, Chris, Zombie’s a one of a kind individual. See you at the the GTG.

      • Bert Rodriguez
        April 6, 2013 at 11:01 PM

        Looking forward to the GTG.

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