Riding the Lightning Under Wild Skies
Last summer I had the opportunity
to go fishing on Lake Strom Thurmond (Clarks Hill) with perhaps the best guide
on the planet. Jonathon Herndon, also
known as the Sultan of Slime, is a professional catfish fisherman. He and his wife Cindy have a guide service on
Lakes Oconee and Sinclair. If you want
to catch the biggest fish of your life just line up a trip with him and you won’t
The problem Jonathon had on
this particular day was that he was going with me – a professional and well documented
fishing jinx. I advised him of this fact
to start with but he just laughed it off.
He knows better now after allowing me to get in his boat.
The day began innocently
enough late one afternoon as we launched and headed out to catch some
bait. We spent some time putting
together enough bream and shad to carry us through the evening and then headed
out to set up the boat over some likely looking spots.
On our second drop we noticed
an ominous cloud on the horizon and then the wind shifted and began to pick
up. Jonathon told us to bring in the
lines and the anchor because we needed to head out before that storm came in. Little did we know that this was no ordinary squall
but might have been better described as a typhoon on steroids coming our way at
the speed of a wide open locomotive.
There’s a hunting show on TV
called Under Wild Skies and I promise you we were the living embodiment
of that title. It was the blackest,
fastest, most evil looking monster that I’ve ever seen and it was on us like a
rat on a potato chip.
By now the wind was blowing a
gale, the rain was a torrential downpour and the waves on the lake were the
kind that could flip a boat over in an instant.
Too add to our problems the lightning began popping all around us. It was the storm of the century in my mind
and we were smack in the middle of it.
It was at that point that my
glasses blew off into beautiful Clarks
and now I was blind on top of everything else.
We were at the mercy of the
wind and there was nothing to do but go in the direction that it took us and
attempt to beach the boat. Jonathon
guided us skillfully to a remote shore and while we were out of danger of
drowning there still remained several problems.
The lightning was
still extremely nasty.
The wind was
blowing 67 miles an hour and the surrounding trees were threatening to fall on
top of us.
I was blind.
Jonathon is wheelchair
bound from a childhood accident so he’s not going anywhere
He’s too big for
me to tote.
We have no idea
where we are so calling 911 won’t help.
See what I mean by being a
We actually did call 911 and
they said the storm had all their emergency crews tied up. That’s another ill omen for us so we came up
with Plan B. That particular plan sent
my blind self staggering off through the forest in search of some form of
civilization. After some extensive woodland
exploration and a few trip and fall sequences I saw a light and made my way
over. I knocked on the door of what
looked to be a haunted house. Mind you
this was 11:00 at night in
the middle of a raucous storm and it ran through my mind that the way our luck
was going I could easily get shot.
Fortunately a nice man let me in and gave me his address so we could let
the emergency services know where we were.
I scuffled my way back to the
stranded boat where Jonathon and Cindy were still lounging in the comfort of
the storm and we called 911 again with an approximate location. This time they said they would send a DNR
ranger to our rescue and that was exceedingly good news. The bad news was there were only two rangers
covering twelve counties that evening and they were not close by. They were supposed to call us when they got
back to our part of the world.
Following a long wait the
nice ranger called us and I went back to the only road in that part of Columbia County so he could see me when he
arrived. I told him I’d be the guy weaving
back and forth across the road waving his arms and screaming for help.
The ranger arrived with an
ambulance not too far behind it and the DNR guy was able to maneuver his truck
down close enough to the lake to be able to load Jonathon up in the back and
get us all back to safety.
In case you’re wondering I’m
not making this stuff up. Not sure how
it happens but I have a knack of getting myself and anyone unfortunate enough
to be nearby into some sticky situations.
Happens all the time.
Anyway if you want to catch
some high quality catfish call Jonathan at 678-763-3469 but under no
circumstances should you mention my name or even that you know me. Jonathon’s learned his lesson.