Broken Ankle

Broken Ankle

Andy Dear | Monday, 10 July 2023

About 9 weeks ago I fractured my right ankle coming down stairs of my shop. Thankfully it didn't require any surgery, and is just about fully healed. The experience did however remind me of a childhood angling adventure that as Flip Pallot would say is "burned forever into the pages of my memory banks"

  Most of my family on my dad's side is from central Mississippi. Consequently, a large portion of my dad's childhood was spent hunting and fishing in and around my great-grandparent's farm. Early on he befriended a local kid named Tony. Tony also loved to hunt and fish, and because of that, they became fast friends. So much so in fact, that they are both now in their 80s, and are still in contact to this day.

  During the summer of 1978, we happened to be visiting my family in Mississippi, and of course, my dad always wanted to spend some time with his old buddy, Tony. Over dinner one night, Tony suggested that the three of us go fishing at one of their childhood haunts called Jack Lake. Jack Lake is a sort of oxbow lake off of the Big Black River and to describe it as "off the beaten" path would be putting it mildly. It was so remote at the time, that it required a 4wd vehicle and a motorized winch to get into and out of the swamp where the lake was located.

  Early the next morning, Tony showed up in his customized, offroad truck which would be used to penetrate the depths of the swamp where Jack Lake was located. The road in was primitive at best, and we had to cross at least three low-water crossings using the winch to pull the truck through the deep mud. Once we reached the lake, there was a small 14 ft. Jon boat that we would use to fish. Because of its remote location, Jack Lake rarely saw anglers...and the quality of the fishery was evidence of that.

  The Bass were hungry and aggressive, and we took full advantage of their naivety. As the morning wore on, and the sun climbed high, the bite turned off and the Mississippi humidity settled over us in a thick hot cloud. We all agreed it was time to exit the swamp for lunch and then a nap. We beached the Jon boat, loaded the gear, and proceeded to traverse the same path out, that we had used to get in. As we approached the second low-water crossing, we got out of the truck to hook the winch to a tree on the opposite side of the ditch. As luck would have it, there was a large water moccasin lying in wait right where we had to cross. Without thinking, my dad turned around to pick up a rock to dispatch the poisonous snake, when his left foot slipped in the mud. At first, I thought he may have just sprained his ankle during the fall, but something inside of me knew it was much worse, as I could hear the bone in his ankle snap as he went down!

  After assessing the severity of the situation, and getting him back in the truck, Tony dispatched the snake and got us across the ditch and out of the swamp as quickly as possible. We immediately took my dad to the local hospital where they reset the bone, then put him in a cast. My dad spent the remainder of the vacation lying on the couch, eating my great grandmother's stash of ice cream, while I spent the rest of the vacation fishing the local farm ponds.... all the while silently in my mind, plotting a way to someday in the future get back to Jack Lake again to torment those Bass!

  To this day, when we visit Mississippi, Tony and I and my dad still reminisce about the events that took place on that fishing trip to Jack Lake. Unfortunately, I never got to visit Jack Lake again. I have looked at it many times on Google Earth, and it still appears to be as remote as it was back then. I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't LOVE to go back there to see what the fishery is like over 40 years later. It's one of the few places I have the privilege of fishing, that to this day still haunts my angling dreams.

Hope you all are having a great week,