By Alvin Richardson
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 be disappointed.
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 Hill Lake 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 jinx?
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 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 the address.
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 12 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.