On our first trip together, Brent Frazee subjected to me to 3 1/2 hours of Bee Gees disco music as we traveled along, crammed into a Chevy Chevette, as we headed to Glen Elder Reservoir. There, I fished all day in the rain, catching very few fish, realizing I’d have another 3 1/2 hours of what I considered the finger nails on chalk board style of music, sung by a guy who seemed to screech like a loose fan belt, for the return trip that wouldn’t have me home until near midnight. (I’m talking about Barry Gibb’s voice , not Brent’s.)
And yet when he dropped me off near my home in Lawrence I was smiling, and hoping to fish with Brent again. And we have fished together few times in those 30-plus years.
All along Brent has been the outdoors writer/photographer for The Kansas City Star. Up until 2000 I was working the feral lifestyle of a freelance outdoors journalist. Whenever possible we helped each other. If on assignment for Outdoor Life or The Wall Street Journal, I happened across something I figured Brent could turn into a good story for The Star, I called him right away. He always returned the favor. We shared some good trips together, too, with each of us getting solid articles for our respective publications.
Technically I guess we’re now supposed to be competitors because we work for two major daily newspapers in the same geographical region. Then again, The Star and The Eagle are sister newspapers both owned by the same company.
There’s no doubt we work with, far more than against, each other. If I’m headed on vacation, or up to my eye-balls with a story for another part of The Eagle, I might use one of Brent’s stories on my Outdoors page a time or two per year. He does the same.
But mostly when we interact, it’s just as friends. So it was last week when we met at Riss Lake, a 100-plus acre water near Brent’s home that he knows better than the keys of his computer keyboard. He proved such right off the bat.
Heading across the lake in a boat he keeps at the lake’s dock, Brent pointed to a tree that had fallen into the lake. He then told me what to use for a lure, where to cast, and then how to fish the tiny curly-tailed plastic jig. Half-way back to the boat a nice crappie took the lure on my first cast. About the same time another one grabbed Brent’s lure, too.
And so it went for about 20 minutes. Brent caught crappie after crappie while I mixed things up with a couple of more crappie, some bluegill and small largemouth bass.
Then, it was over. I snagged the tree and when we moved in to free my jig the good fishing ended. Did the boat spook the fish, or did the dark cloud that always hangs over me when it comes to bad fishing luck return?
No matter, we kept fishing and kept laughing. As we tried for bass and crappie we relived the time we brought 17-inches of snow to northern Arkansas in a single day. We were fishing the White River out of Gaston’s White River Resort.
We were catching big brown trout at the time, and when Brent asked the guide about snow removal Troy Lackey just laughed and said, “It was put here by God, it will be taken away by God, eventually.” It was so deep Lackey spent the night sleeping on the floor of the bar. We’re pretty sure he was just asleep, anyway.
There was also a day at Lake Texoma when we caught scores of stripers from six to 12 pounds. Some were 60 feet deep and fought like fish three times their size as we battled them to the surface.
But the fishing remained slow the rest of of our time at Riss Lake last week, but it was fun.
You know, I’d probably say the same even if he’d been playing disco music in his boat that entire afternoon...but I’m so glad he wasn’t.