Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Why Croaker Talk?


Note: This is not a croaker, but it was caught in Mobile Bay, only not, dammit, by me. However, I find that its expression represents the spirit of "Croaker Talk."

(Note: Blog probably won't return until Sunday or Monday, because of Thanksgiving.)

          Since I started my blog, millions of you have written or called to ask, "Eddie, why Croaker Talk?"
              There are several reasons, and now is as good a time as any to make them up.
              Here goes, in no particular order:
              1. Bloggers, like croakers, make noise of a sort, and, like croakers, bloggers are not required to make sense.
              2. I recently, with cell phone, took a picture of a croaker I caught. I therefore have the necessary "art" to go along with the blog. I often change my desktop background, used the croaker pic recently, so it was handy and on my mind.
              3. The croaker is an underappreciated fish, and I'm the author -- allow me some tears here -- of what I feel is an underappreciated book about journalism, Alabama politics, and the failings of former Governor Don Siegelman (it's called, "The Governor of Goat Hill").
              A little more on that thought -- but only the croaker bit.
              First, I am blessed. In the 1940s, my grandparents built a house on the eastern short of Mobile Bay and it has remained in our family. There is no excuse for me not be good at catching fish, as in, speckled trout, redfish, and others in that class. I like to do it. I've had ample opportunity to learn and get good at it. My father's good at it, as is my brother and many of my friends. But I lack focus, and my feelings, at the deepest level, have been hurt by backlashes. While others have kept on casting, I'm pulling at string, feeling stupid and incompetent. Thus, my favorite fishing apparatus is any rod and reel made by Zebco. Those babies don't backlash.
              I don't know this for an absolute fact but I doubt there are many better croaker holes than Mobile Bay, nor croaker-catching tools superior to the Zebco.
              So I keep it simple -- Zebco v. Croaker in Mobile Bay.
              Most people croaker-fish by wrapping the end of their line around a crab, casting it out, and letting the crab catch the croaker and signal back that the deal is done.
              My technique is somewhat different.
              I tie a smallish hook to the end of the line.
              Step Two: I get a few of the little weights you bite open, then bite back closed on the line. Though the pros have gone to those cylindrical lime green and orange floaters, I find that about three-fourths of the time they fly off when given the sort of hearty cast I'm wont to make. Therefore, I apply a round, plastic, red and white floater a foot or two (depending on the tide) above the weights.
              And ... I use dead shrimp as bait!
              If I have big dead shrimp, I'm tempted to hook the whole thing but really and truly, a smallish to medium size chunk is better. There aren't too many croakers big enough to even consider swallowing the bait I try to feed them sometimes but usually I can restrain myself and act the part of the disciplined angler.
              Whereas most people cast by taking a running start and heaving their entire bodies into it, I prefer a neat if powerful (see above) flick of the wrist.
              Given decent conditions (no huge waves, hurricanes, or those ridiculously low Mobile Bay tides), following the above guidelines, and applying a modicum of patience, I believe you could haul in a croaker one out of every two casts.
              Could, but not will. That's because Mobile Bay, in addition to being a primo breeding ground for croaker, is the motherland for the roach of the fishing world.
            I think the federal government should give Auburn a massive research grant to find out how to remove the saltwater catfish from the face of the earth, or at the very least, from the waters of our bay. They're ugly in a cruel, mini-shark way; you have to be very careful removing hooks because of their poisonous fins; even one as small as a microbe can take your bait and get stuck on your hook; you'd turn to cannibalism before you'd eat one; and I could go on.
              Too often, the little heartbreakers beat the croaker to your bait. (I should note many are large, and give a good fight, but disappoint all the worse when you see it's catfish.)
              4. Lastly, the croaker is a lucky fish, as I will be if you go to this link.
              Now that you've returned, why, you ask, is the croaker a lucky fish?
              They are strictly a sport fish, if not particularly high on that totem pole. Catch and release. Too bony, I'm told. So most croakers that suffer the awfulness of having to be dragged fighting out of the water by a hook to the lip shortly thereafter return to Mobile Bay, stunned and delirious with exhaustion, but very much alive.
              Thus, Croaker Talk.

   (Later note: The above was written, as they say, tongue in cheek. While much of it is true, the bit about most people croaker fishing by "wrapping the end of their line around a crab, casting it out, and letting the crab catch the croaker and signal back that the deal is done" ... well, that part is not, and I wouldn't recommend trying though it might make for interesting times.)

              Now, moving on...
              What might one expect from Croaker Talk?
              Some days I will comment on matters related to my book, "The Governor of Goat Hill." On others, I might give my two cents worth on the news of the day, be it about Alabama politics, a certain potential recruiting fiasco, the Milton McGregor bingo probe, or anything else that strikes me as interesting/topical.
              I hope to soon add a link to matters that interest me but have zero to do with news or politics. I don't know, maybe my thoughts on books, music and movies.
              To use one of my children's favorite words, it will be random.


  1. Nice croaker....looking forward to the talk.

  2. croaker bait, croaker sack, croaker smoker, bring it on . . . .