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OPINION | MIKE MASTERSON: Lunker of a day

by Mike Masterson | June 1, 2021 at 2:08 a.m.

Ihave always nurtured a passion for fishing, usually wading a creek or river, sometimes in a lake. There is something about watching the monofilament tighten, setting the hook, and reeling in a large bass that generates excitement that can't be matched.

Through the years, a five-pound fish became my definition of a lunker.

But my lifelong experiences on the water understandably couldn't hold a nightcrawler to those of Bass Pro Shops founder and former professional fisherman Johnny Morris.

Consider this remarkable story from March 1995.

During a marathon nine-hour day, Morris tuckered himself plumb out by reeling in 31 giant Atlantic bluefin tuna weighing a total of 12,000 pounds off the coast of Cape Hatteras, N.C.

Of all the avid American anglers in fresh and saltwater alike, I'd expect this man, raised fishing Ozark lakes and streams with his father and beloved Uncle Buck, to set a bluefin world record, which this achievement might well have represented.

It was by no means the first, nor would it be last time the nation's leading private conservationist landed and released these powerful fish. The practice of returning them to the sea is an example of his devotion to conservation.

Like the late Nobel-Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway, the love of angling for 400-pound (and larger) bluefin has thrived deeply in this man's heart.

Morris boated so many bluefin on this outing with veteran Captain Alex Adler and crew members Peter Dubose and John Galley (who maneuvered the boat and helped Morris maintain the pace with quick releases) that Adler grew startled by the unexpected numbers. So much so, he literally ran out of tags used to identify bluefin for oceanic research.

While the day was special, this was just one of many outings for beloved bluefin the unassuming Morris has continued to enjoy worldwide.

On March 15, 1995, columnist Charlie Farmer with the Springfield News-Leader wrote that Morris used heavy tackle, 130-pound test monofilament and a 300-pound leader that day to boat the enormous fish which left him sore yet smiling over the incredible experience.

And little wonder he was exhausted, after reeling in behemoths at a rate averaging one every 20 minutes. A single bluefin weighing hundreds of pounds is noted for sufficient strength and tenacity to sap both the strength and will of many anglers.

I'd roughly equate the feat to riding that many bulls or broncos in the rodeo arena in a single day.

Adler's boat was rocking gently in the swells over the fishing grounds on March 3, 1995, at 7:30 a.m. The nonstop action quickly began and lasted until 4:30.

The site of this day Morris will never forget was an area where ships were sunk during World War II, providing an ideal environment for enormous concentrations of bluefish (a favorite staple of bluefins).

And we know how ocean predators love to lurk near an ample food supply.

It wasn't as if this particular location was a secret. Morris said on the day he achieved his feat, five other fishing boats were gathered in the same area.

Despite his world-beater of a day, big-game anglers, marine biologists, Morris and fellow conservationists remain concerned today about the dwindling number of this massive species, as well as tuna populations overall.

"There's no doubt the giant bluefin tuna still warrants our concern and help," Morris told Farmer that year, adding, "I had the best captain and crew in the world. They found the fish and I was lucky enough to be there with them and catch fish."

Did he ever.

Raw kraut benefits

Floyd Fenix is no M.D. and he's never had a course in gastroenterology.

Yet at 76, he says he's discovered a method that he says solved all his digestive issues and several other physical ailments. If what he says works for him and his wife and their friends, it can't hurt to pass it along.

It's actually quite simple. Fenix says he did his own research (including from Scandinavia and Poland) and discovered the benefits of raw, unpasteurized sauerkraut.

He said he realized his doctor, who he described as excellent, knew what medicine would mask the discomfort, but did not know the underlying problem."You have to define a problem before you can solve it," said Fenix.

"It took me a while, but I figured out the core problem. Now I feel like I'm 30 again. Lots of energy and just feel great. It has eliminated 90 percent of my ailments. I know it sounds too simple to be true. But it has worked for Nancy and I. It's also worked for several friends."

You can make your own raw sauerkraut, or purchase it at a health food store. Making it takes time for fermentation to be completed.

"It's just a cabbage head chopped, with 2 percent by weight of a good salt added (we use small-granule sea salt), knead it by hand to break down the stems and allow the juice to flow, and let it ferment three weeks," he said. He downs at least one tablespoon daily.

Floyd convinced me. Now we're chewin' and waitin'.


Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at [email protected]

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