Concerning Old Age and Carp Angling The FFF Misadventure of a Texas Angler 11:00pm – The Evening Before FFF The Big Apple dropped in New York as miles away, deep in the heart of Texas, a youthful Clayton Lothrop dropped his tackle and bait box in the back of his old pickup. Net, check. Rods, check. Pack bait bucket, check... This ritual was necessary to ensure everything I’d need on the bank was located securely in the back of Green Freedom – yeah my truck has a name. Countless times I’ve embarked on a fishing adventure only to have to turn around ten minutes down the road to fetch something I failed to pack. I refuse to believe this is due to aging. Satisfied all my gear was loaded I took a few private moments to fantasize about what the New Year ’s Day would bring. The fishery I had selected holds some real chunks and only last week I pulled two 20+ commons from its stained waters. I’m not ashamed to say that visions of me with a gilded crown on, waving to the angling masses crossed my mind after winning the FFF Emperor’s Award. Wishful thinking? Almost certainly. A quick PB&J sandwich and diet coke later (because that’s what champion’s eat) and I was in the truck hurling toward my swim as fast as Green Freedom would go which is about 55 mph. 12:00am – Time to Rock! I arrived at my swim, North Lakes – Denton, a little after midnight because one has to savor a good PB&J only to observe a posted warning sign prohibiting park use after 10pm. I never recalled seeing this sign before – still refusing the old age thing – and contemplated fishing anyway or being a law abiding citizen. You should know that I’m married to a very patient and supportive woman, but a trespassing charge would probably foul up any chance of future FFFs, among other things, so I turned back and decided I would come back at 4am, still plenty of time to get into the Hall of Fame for a prior to 6am capture. 4:00am – Reveille …snooze button… 5:30am – Up and At’um! One could question my passion for carp fishing at this point, but I assure you I’m all in. I was just whooped from a full day’s work at the grindstone on Tuesday. Ok, so I’m scrambling now and its starting to dawn on me (no pun intended) that the before 6am capture is going to be a goal for next year’s FFF 2015. I scrabble into some long johns, pull on my water boots and search unsuccessfully for my truck keys that, I promise, where on the counter where I left them when I went to bed – don’t say it…it’s not old age. Finally, I get myself together and jettison from the garage like a tomahawk missile in route to a terrorist training camp. Yep, I realize I forgot a hand towel. Oh well, that’s why the good Lord created jeans. 5:50am – Setup Everything slooowed down at this point. I was at the water’s edge with a cold wind blowing in and not a soul in sight. I relish this moment, in the outdoors with the water lapping at the bank and the grass rustling in the breeze. The ambience of nature, of fishing, is blissful. A throng of migratory birds where huddled up nearby suffering the wind together. They took note that I was there but didn’t startle. It was obvious I wasn’t there for them as I setup my pod, cooked up my pack-bait and prepared my rods and hookbait. Everything set, I settled in the cab of Green Freedom with my receiver turned up and stared into the blackness anticipating a screaming run. ………. And so I waited....still waiting. 7:32am – Sunrise God Bless America, isn’t that a pretty sight. A new sun on a new day of a new year full of potential….and WHAM! My left alarm screams off like a banshee. My receiver barks in kind and I can see from the cab a throbbing bend in my rod as a fish is tearing away pulling line by the yard in its fury. I could have been an extra in Saving Private Ryan. I was storming the bank, dodging a bucket here, jumping a mat there in all haste to get to my rod and load it up. I struck and felt the ecstasy of a fish pulling on the other end. Careful now, I checked the drag with a quick pluck on the line, perfect, and so I played her in. A lunge, then another and her head broke the surface. I had struck gold. 7:55am – First Fish of 2014 – 5lbs 6oz Ain’t she a beauty? After a brief moment of appreciation I returned her to the water and politely asked that she tell her friends to come try the buffet. 9:00am – Angry Birds Come nine o’clock I was in fear for my life. The bank had erupted in black birds swirling around me menacingly and calling dibs on the choicest parts of my body. Like every B-movie victim, I get out of the truck to investigate. Turns out some good Samaritan had dumped a 40 pound bag of cracked corn on the bank about 30 yards from my swim. The birds where angling for the corn but obviously not too sure about me ambling about. After a few tense moments, we decided to respect each other and they set about eating and me fishing. 10:39am – Two in the Net I’ll openly admit, I was starting to get mighty sleepy in the heated cab of my truck. My alarms hadn’t so much as chirped and I had lost all interest in the birds. The new radio was repeating the same story again – A tow truck driver was shot in Dallas at 5am by some drunk revelers – and I was sliding lower and lower on my bench seat then, WREEEEEEEEE! My receiver squawked a relentless peel and I could see by the yellow light my right rod was running. Flying out of the truck like Batman from the bat-mobile I glided to my rod and struck. There wasn’t a lot of fish on the end but after a dry period I didn’t care. Would you believe that just as I netting this little scrapper, my middle rod tore off. What is a guy to do? I laid down the first rod, fish in the net and played in the second. With the first fish still in the net and scooped up the second. They were two peas in a pod and looked like twins, twin bars of gold. 12:00pm – High Noon At lunch time my "Sweetie-pie" (It’s in my contract to call her that) called and asked if I was going to spend “all” of New Year’s Day fishing. I did what any self-respecting, pant’s-wearing man would do. I told her I would be home in a few. The hardest part of any fishing trip is packing up. It’s almost painful to being pulling those lines in when you know a shoal of gold is pecking around your hookbait and that if you could just keep your rods out a few minutes longer… Well, all good things come to an end. Just like when that Big Apple dropped to close out 2013 and ring in the New Year, and so my first, First Fishing Folly came to a close with a first fish and first double. I don’t even mind that they were so small……that’s a lie, I wish they had been 20s. My heartfelt thanks go out to the Carp Anglers Group for hosting such a creative and fun event. If I learned anything from this year’s FFF, it is to be better prepared for 2015, but as for the experience I had, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Kind regards, Clayton Lothrop (TX Angler) Special Thanks to World Classic Baits. Your 4 Seasons maize did the job once again down here in Texas. Thanks!