March 15th is finally here, the day we can go snagging. I’ve been looking forward to this for more than a year and it’s finally here. My wife and I load the snagging rods, gaffing hook, gas for the motor, life jackets and of course personal need items, pile into the truck and head for three glorious days of snagging. We are joined by our brothers and sisters in Christ for the long anticipated trip to Climax Springs. Our caravan, filled with excited fishermen, makes a stop at the 54 Diner for a much needed breakfast filled with tales of past fishing trips, mistakes and sweetened with an occasional sip of coffee. Then back on the road we go like a wagon train headed for the promise of the biggest fish imaginable.
The day is sunny, fairly warm, no rain and very little wind. Looks like a very good day for snagging. My Dodge truck is running like it’s as glad to be going fishing as I am. We stop next in Camdenton Missouri just a few miles South of Lake Of The Ozarks to pick up food for the meals at the resort where we will be staying. Lazy Days Resort located in Climax Springs Missouri on the South West side of the Lake of the Ozarks is where we will hang our hats for the next 3 days. Another 15 minutes and it’s time to unload the food, suitcases and of course the boats.
This is where things began to swing a little south as small problems began to pop up. Pastor Steve bent a new prop, first time in the water, while trying to unload his boat. The water at the resort dock was low making it virtually impossible to unload the boats without getting into the rocks. The boat slips we had rented were showing less than a foot of water while some had no water at all. We all finally got our boats unloaded and parked in our rented slips. Then it’s time for some food, a few teasing jokes and off to bed for a good night’s sleep. Tuesday morning, 7:00 am March the 15th is the beginning of snagging. We shower, comb our hair, brush our teeth, slip into our lucky fishing pants and shirt and head downstairs to grab a bite then be on our way. The smell of fresh brewed coffee, sausage, bacon and ham sitting alongside fresh eggs, orange juice, biscuits and gravy makes one feel like he may have died and went to heaven. After a hot breakfast, discussions about our method of fishing, where we’re headed and then we’re out the door into the early morning day. As I walk down to my boat waiting on the lake, there is an almost magical silence in the air only to be broken by the shrill screech of a gull flying overhead. The fog hovering over the water as if whispering in my ear adds a mystical dream like quality to the lake. I climb into my boat, the captain of all things, sit down in the captains seat grip the key between my thumb and forefinger and briskly turn to the start position and nothing happens. What could this mean? I check cables, battery and try again and to my surprise it starts. My mind is filled with exhilaration as 48 horses jump to life pawing and jerking on the reins begging to be set free from their captivity. The first passengers take their seats ready for the upcoming activity. I back out of the stall, nose my trusty steed into the unknown and disappear into the mystical fog. As we slide across the water surface my depth finder turns almost black with icons that are supposed to be fish. We stop and each passenger deploys their favorite fishing rod. I grasp the key between my thumb and fore finger turn briskly to the start position and nothing happens. I think to myself, “What is going on?” “This can’t be happening.” I check the cables and the battery and try again and to my surprise it starts. I figure while we have it running we should run back to the resort and figure out what is wrong with my motor. Turns out I had to go to Camdenton to purchase a new battery for my boat. The better part of the first day is gone but we’re back on the lake ready to fish. I hear a familiar voice in the distance saying, “How are you guys doing?” It’s Leon and it looks like they’ve already caught 2 or 3. Boy they look good, really nice fish. The depth finder is showing fish so we deploy our weapons and begin the slow task of trying to snag a spoonbill or paddle fish as some may call them. The sun has melted the smoky fog from the water surface, the temperature has risen and most of us desire something to eat so we head back to the resort. As we enter our stall I notice Jeff McCubbins in the stall next to ours and he is working feverishly pumping water out of his boat. It appears that his boat has sprung a leak somewhere along the way. My passengers and I walk to the resort dining room where the ladies have prepared a wonderful meal. Pastor Steve and his crew are already there eating when we arrive and Jeff McCubbins and Carl Thomson join us shortly. We enjoy a wonderful meal while discussing the strategy for the remainder of the day. Sun glasses and hats on, and it’s out the door and back to the lake to try to catch our elusive prey. Sunset quickly takes over the daylight hours and it’s time to go back to the resort for some much needed dinner and rest. The meal is followed by the daily devotion and it’s off to bed. Day 2 begins with breakfast tacos, juice and coffee YUM. The wind is up a little more than yesterday but still a very nice day. Our first stop is around the 47 mile marker where we left off the day before. We fished up until about 12:00 noon and we were about to tell the guys to reel them in we’re going for dinner. Suddenly Shane grabs his rod, jumps to his feet and yells, “I’ve got one”. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen Shane smile so big; it reached from one ear to the other. After what seemed an eternity Shane finally had the fish alongside the boat where Robert and Trenton could get the gaff hook into it and pull it into the boat. Shane tied the mule tale around the bill and the tail and proceeded to hang it over the side of the boat. The fish hits the water, takes 3 or 4 good splashes and swims away leaving Shane standing there with the mule tail in his hand and 4 guys with the deer in the headlights look on their faces. We promptly pointed our trusty steed for the resort and sheepishly headed for the stall. That evening supper was not as festive as the previous day. The mood was somewhat somber but the meal was very good followed by the devotion and it was off to bed. The third and final day of our snagging trip begins the chore of packing. Breakfast is whatever you can rummage up. Some have decided to go out early for another shot at hooking the big one. Pastor Steve is first to load his boat. Pastor Steve must back his truck and trailer out in the water to get his trailer deep enough to load his boat. After several tries he finally manages to get his boat on the trailer. Next John Taylor’s son-in-law Jake is going to attempt to load John’s boat. Jake’s daughter backs the truck and trailer into the water the boat comes forward and the trailer comes unhooked and rolls back into the lake. Jake finally gets to the winch strap stretches it over the trailer in to the truck where it can be pulled out and reattached to the truck. Next it’s my turn to navigate the shallow boat ramp. Carl Thompson directs me to where I should park my trailer. I slip my sweet running Dodge into park, jump out and head to the stall to retrieve my boat. I square the boat between the docking runners, gun the motor and slide the boat as far up on the trailer as possible. Carl Thompson climbs into that sweet running Dodge and proceeds to bury it in the loose sand and gravel. I climb out on the trailer tongue to hook the winch strap, slip and sit down in the lake with my clothes on, BRRRR. Thanks to Danny DeOrnellis and his sweet running Dodge 4X4 and a few minutes later we were out and ready to tie our boat down. Next it was Jeff McCubbins’ turn to load his boat. Jeff backs his trailer and his sweet running Dodge into the shallow waters of the dock. As Jeff lines his boat up with the trailer guides his boat inches up onto the trailer you could see sand, gravel and mud churning up behind his boat. Jeff’s boat is on the trailer but something doesn’t seem quite right. That’s when Jeff notices his motor is stuck in the sand and gravel at the rear of his boat. Jeff can’t raise it or drive forward for fear of tearing up his lower unit. After several minutes of work and tugging the motor finally comes loose. After several hours of hard work we’re finally at the top of the ramp loading our stuff for the long journey home. Needless to say the festive mood has somewhat diminished but our joy is still present.
Fishers of Men caught a total of 11 spoonbill and 10 blue cats netting us a medium size cooler of dressed fish ready for a fish fry. Fishers of Men experienced many problems over the 3 day fishing trip but in the end our joy of fellowship, fun, food and the love of Christ has drawn us closer together. Some may say that fishing is not a ministry and I might agree. I do, however, believe that fishing is a wonderful tool to allow our joy of fellowship with Christ and each other to illuminate the darkness in the world. Maybe you should just find out for yourself join us on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at the Just As I Am Cowboy Church Paris Missouri at 6:00 pm, and yes, and bring your fork the fish is mighty tasty.
The Just As I Am Cowboy Church is calling on chili lovers to break out their best recipes, or at least a big appetite, for its third annual chili cook-off Sunday. The February 24th event, according to Pastor Steve Miller, is designed to bring the church closer with the surrounding communities.
The growth of the event from its first to second year provides an indication, the communities have taken notice. “The first year, we had 50 people. Last year, we had 60 people,” Miller said, noting the amount of chili also doubled, from four pots to more than seven. “We really want the community to come and participate in this with us.”
Janis Miller, wife of Pastor Steve Miller, a Paris resident for more than 20 years, entered the pie contest after hearing about it in the church announcements, she said, and won first prize for her butter scotch pie.
Terrie Taylor, who is a member of the church and entered at the urging of her husband John, and Elicia Whitson, a new comer, entered at the urging of her roommate Destiny, both tied for first place for the best chili. Whitson said her chili is well known for being spicy hot yet very flavorful. Taylor and Whitson will once again enter their chili, which includes cubed chuck, fresh tomatoes, ghost peppers and chili seasoning in Sunday’s competition.
After this year’s win, Whitson shared her recipe with the entire congregation in the continuing tradition of openness established by the yearly chili cook-off preceding champions. Despite being a new comer to the church in this year’s competition, Whitson said she felt right at home. “It was the friendliest group of people you’d ever want to meet. I didn’t feel like an outsider at all,” Whitson said. “It’s fun, it’ll be tasty and I encourage people to come out and eat.” Despite having an entry in the competition, Taylor and Whitson said they would love to serve as a judge at nest year’s event, which includes categories such as Best Vegetarian Chili, Best Chili Con Carne and Please-help-me-my-mouth-is-on-fire Chili.
To tickle the fancy of Taylor and Whitson’s taste buds, Pastor Stvev Miller recomends recipes that aren’t too spicy and have easily identifiable ingredients.
Next years contest will feature new chili and pie recipes that are sure to tempt any taste buds to take notice.
“The church body really just likes to remain a part of the community and feel like they’re giving back,” Pastor Miller said, noting that many of the members are originally from the Paris area. “The chili cook-off is a great way to bring them together in fellowship.” John Taylor, husband of Terrie Taylor, will be represented among the tasters and in the chili competition as well. “It gives us a sense of belonging, to be able to give back to the people who give to us,” Miller, Taylor and Whitson said.