NANFA-L-- South Carolina Convention

Subject: NANFA-L-- South Carolina Convention
Date: Mon Jul 26 2004 - 20:06:15 CDT

a bit long but a full week of activity visiting sc... lots of fun and

NANFA 2004 Convention Columbia SC

I headed south from Chattanooga and arrived west of Columbia-in-Chip's
workplace, a monofilament factory. A smooth drive with the AC on took 4.5 hours and
a very sweltering SC heat greeted me. We immediatily left and headed to the
zoo for a quick lookaround and a couple pre-convention errands. Chip and Dustin
had chosen a great place for our gathering and we were in for a treat! Native
tanks tested my ID skills and a look-in-Jim's Pygmy Sunfish Breedery was
firing my excitment. We loaded back up, dropped my van and gear-in-the motel and
headed to Chip's home. His backyard is water gardened with an interesting
network of flowing pools and plants. All the pools were connected with spillways and
minature stream flows. In each pool resided different species seperated by
screened spillways. A nifty feeding trick was leaving a couple boards laying on
a termite mound. He picked up the boards, held them over a pool and clacked
them together. The Black Banded Sunfish came to the surface and proceeded to eat
the termites while sounding like a bowl of Rice Krispies a popping! Chip
fired up the grill to give us our feeding and we shared an excellent dinner of
steak, portabellas, aspargus, multicolored bell peppers and sweet potatos. He has
his steak grilling technique timed to perfection with a stopwatch. I need to
work on an aspargus bed as ive discovered their good taste and grilling is
another way to enjoy them. A great meal, we rested, visited with his family and
discussed the next day's activities.

The next morning he picked me up and the two of us along with Dustin ran a
few final errands for the convention. Steve caught up with us via cellphone
while we were-in-the zoo and we synced for a nice BBQ lunch buffet with all kinds
of southern vegetables and a bowl of tooth snapping salt pork hard rind. I
have not had that since i was a little boy-in-my Grandmother's. Getting our fill
we headed back to the Holiday Inn to finish setting up the hospitality room. I
iced the drinks and laid out the Moon Pies & chips. A NANFA shirt was
stretched and presented for signing by attendies for a English fishhead who could not
attend. Banners and posters were hung and registration packages prepared.
Before long folks began to arrive and the evening and socializing went on into
the late night. My brain was flombumbled by the end of the evening trying to
keep up with t-shirt sales, new faces and remembered names, scribing and
correctly spelling registration badges and renewing old friendships and learning of
new acquaintances. I knew the next day's early morning water mucking was fast
approaching and i bugged out for the motel!

Early Friday morning everyone gathered for their 4 preselected trips. I had
choosen Gerald's and Dr. Goldstein's NE of Columbia run as i wanted to
experience the area immediatly surrounding Columbia. Ranger Bob and Pierre joined me
in the van and off the caravan went. A long delayed start and a near left
behind while waiting in WalMart's parking lot for Gerald's last minute fishing
license purchase got my nerves edgy but the first site's water washed that away.
New fish and fellow muckers getting wet. Everyone was calling out something new
from their nets. We worked upstream and then back downstream. Watch out for
snakes. What's this! It was hard to get us out of the first location and on to
the others. The next stop provided lots of boot sucking mucky swamp water and
beautiful fish to keep one motivated. Over my head, bobbing like a cork, the
cool water refreshed my body as i struggled to unsnag my leg from the tangled
roots but all i had wanted was a bit of water for my bottle! Steep banks,
drop-offs, thorns, cross current swimming across rivers with a 30' bag seine in
tow, stinging neetles and a Water Moccasin lounging in a dark retreat. I tried to
keep up with my siene masters Peter and Dave but about the most i could do by
the end of the day was hold a plastic bag open. We probably hit 5 or 6 unique
spots and viewed many different species. I was finally worn out after
crossing a rickety wire fence topped with barb wire. I had a pretty good picture of
what would happen if that fence wire snapped just as i swung my last leg over!

After a serious demucking and a refreshing shower the three of us fellow
riders along with the Ranger's Betsy headed to the local Lizard Thicket for
another meal of southern cooking. We three Tennesseans had Pierre's very much
deprived yankee roots in mind. As i remember he had a plate of country fried steak,
blackeye peas, collard greens, fried okra and corn bread. (?) That is southern
cooking! A much needed relaxing and socializing meal topped with a much
needed sleep got us ready for the next day.

A hectic morning loading ice coolered drinks, moon pies, signs and banners
for the trip to the zoo. Ive learned to ask for help and am so glad that i
recieve it! Several folks readily chipped in with this hurried activity. We got
everything up and settled into some wonderful talks. All were interesting and
entertaining. Having the gathering-in-the zoo provided a great place to wander in
and out of between speakers. I especially enjoyed Tyler's talk, learning of
Ditch Crickets from Brian, seeing some cool 12 volt video of the Robust
Redhorse, listening to Fritz's described descriptions forays, Dave's "I love
sculpins... please dont eat them" and Gerald's colorized shiners expose. A lunch break
in the midst provided the opportunity to revisit the Lizard Thicket with
Todd, Ranger Bob, Betsy, and Nick and Steven. Ive always enjoyed reading Todd's
stories on the list and Nick described a new one from another perspective. It
was a turtle's encounter with a car driven by Todd who was following and peering
out the side window ( as we all do when crossing bridges! ). The scene from
Nick's rear view mirror is permanently etched and splattered on Nick's mind. We
also got a prolonged viewing session of some of softball's youngest and
finest players. Lots of abupt mid sentence stutters and slack and bumble bobbed
jaws all the while with Betsy giving us the knowing look! Back to the zoo!

After the speakers we had a couple hours to relax and socialize with members
new and old. Dave showed me the new Alabama book... and im saving my money!
Some of his excellent illustrations were included within. Mark and i wandered
along through the zoo eventually enjoying the cool AC and freshwater native's
tanks. Lots of other folks were arriving and taking in the excellent exhibits
and surroundings. The banqueteers were setting up round tables in the salt water
aquaria hallway and i found a table up against the blacklighted UV glowing
jellies. The word was eventually called and i made a mad dash for the front of
the line but big Phil blocked me reminding me of proper manners for but just a
second or two as i twisted pass. Boy was that meal good. I liked everything
especially the musterd sauced BBQ and low country boil all topped with ice tea
and finally pecan pie with whipped cream. We had a nice table and i enjoyed
catching up with Phil, Mark and Susan and Pat.

The tables were cleared and i underwent a red faced bashful from a glowing
review presented by our fine editor Chris. Speaking in public creates a case of
lock jaw stutter for me especially when i'm overwhelmed, suprised and
blindsided! Chris, more deservingly, shortly afterwards received his well earned
fellow fella acknowlegment. NANFA is such a fun, inspiring and knowledgable
organization. I want to urge everyone to contribute the best they can to this
entirely voluntary school of fishheads. We have something valuable between all of us.
Lets each and all work together to make NANFA the best it can be!

A trip deep into the amazon was presented by Dr. Goldstein. Jungles, rivers,
exportation dodges, new fishes, lodging, carnival, waterfalls and aireal
views. A neat trip. There are so many places to see on this earth... but so many
are right here in North America, and NANFA, Chip and Dustin provided all of us
an opportunity to explore South Carolina. Thanks guys!

Phil wrapped up the evening with another one of his skilled and entertaining
auctioneering marathons. Lots of good deals to be had and fun to watch the
scrambling. Thanks to Jan for the seine donations and his many bid wins. I should
have busted my fifty dollar limit on the Blue Sucker! An artistic copper hewn
finned fish that i was yearning to show up-in-Scott Mettee's door with! Hats
off for Phil's SRBD artwork and Klaus's engraved plate. Everyone should come
up with something unique like that for next year's auction. I was reminded of
Peter's purchase of Betsy's cutout "missing" fish plaque... "The one that got
away!" froma few years back.
I was able to visit with a few more folks between the bid wars and a few good
byes were said but i was keen on the next day's plan.


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: Wed Sep 29 2004 - 12:21:34 CDT