There has been a reported zombie sighting on the middle Brazos River. They were almost right, it was actually Fish Zombie, the bigger-than-life, gonzo-style angler from Texas Fishing Forum’s Kayak Section, and my fishing bud for a day on the Brazos last week. I was supposed to go solo but a last minute change in plans freed up some time on Zombie’s schedule, and off we went.
I’ve always been a procrastinator and it’s not uncommon for this bad habit to bite me in the butt. I waited until the last minute to load my gear for the drive south and inadvertently ended up leaving home without any of my tackle boxes. Damn. Then to make matters worse, Zombie didn’t bring any tackle either because I told him I’d bring everything. Damn… again.
Oh well, no use in crying about it; sometimes you gotta make lemonade, right? At least I had the presence of mind to bring a cast net and bait bucket; add to that some hooks we found in my milk crate and a couple of swim baits Zombie dug out of his truck. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all.
It’s starting to feel like fall out there. The river’s foliage was just starting to take on those fiery hues; in a couple of weeks, most of the trees will be bare, but the air temps that day were tolerable, so much so that we didn’t use waders. I had them, mind you–and would have thrown them on in a heartbeat if I’d of gotten cold–but I never did. Zombie, who was wearing shorts, scoffed at even the mention of my waders. He said something about me being a sissy boy.
This trip was taken last week when Mother Nature couldn’t quite decide if it was winter yet or not, and we all know what that does to the fishing. A better angler than me might have carved out a pattern, but for this knuckle-dragger, it was a slow bite. Still, the day was mild, and the wind was tolerable, and I was on the river with Fish effing Zombie who has a knack for turning even the worst fishing days into comedic adventure.
We eventually managed to break the morning skunk when Zombie landed a nice sized channel cat. A little later he caught a long nose gar that had been making a pest of himself, as they sometimes do. I also managed to hook into a couple of dink bass.
We were working a cluster of lay-downs when Zombie spotted something upriver. From a quarter mile away it looked like a flotilla of kayaks floating down in our direction, some of them fishing and some not. It was a large group, about ten yaks or so in all, and I noticed a wide age range within the group–some men my age but most were younger.
As they paddled closer, we exchanged pleasantries, and it turns out they were a crew of Arlington fire fighters paddling the eight miles between Lake Whitney and Dick’s Canoes. I also noticed that there were a couple of fly fisherman in the group and I snapped some photos as one of them whipped his line repeatedly, no easy feat sitting in the kayak.
One of the younger anglers came over and asked if I was a member of Texas Fishing Forum, and when I said yes, he replied that he recognized me and was a fan of LSC. The young man was very polite, and in fact, it was he who explained to me that the flotilla was a group of firefighters and that one of them was his father.
The bulk of the flotilla passed us up on their quest for the finish line, still several miles away, although a couple of the more serious anglers loitered behind. With most of the crowd downriver from us, and anxious for a steak I knew was waiting for me, I leaned a little more into my strokes and picked up the pace. I looked over at Zombie to my left and slightly behind me, and I noticed that he had a shit-eating grin on his ugly hairy face. Game on.
He picked it up too and I leaned in a little more. We would paddle some and then hit shallows where we’d jump out on the run (okay, maybe not run; maybe fast walk) and drag the yaks 20 yards. Once we hit deeper water, we’d hop back in and start paddling again until the next shallow and then do it all over again until one of us got to our take out first.
I won’t say who won…but I will say that I once beat Zombie in a backward kayaking race at a yakker’s GTG. Pretty sure that’s documented somewhere. Still, I should know better than to be racing a zombie, especially this one. The stories of his angling prowess are plentiful, and I can personally attest to his paddling endurance. It’s not unusual for Zombie to paddle his Ocean Kayak back and forth across huge North Texas lakes chasing birds–yes, chasing birds…from a kayak.
Needless to say, if you want to fish with Zombie, you better be stout. At last count, he still had a three of his nine lives left, which puts us humans at a distinct disadvantage. If you ever find yourself fishing with him, remember that.
He was once doing some wintertime fishing with some buddies on Lake Lewisville when their boat sank from underneath them. Zombie swam several hundred yards–in 50 degree water–made land and walked into the nearest house to call the lake patrol. They dispatched a rescue boat to pluck his friends, who were still out in the lake clinging to coolers and seat cushions. I’m sure Zombie thought they were sissy boys too, but that’s a whole other story.
Lone Star Chronicles: Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Fish