MEMORIES OF THE “MOUTH OF MISSISSIPPI”

By: Glynn Harris

I just read on Facebook that August 24 marks the anniversary of the death of Mississippi comedian, Jerry Clower. He died 24 years ago at the age of 72.

Clower was born in Liberty, MS and after two-year stint in the Navy during World War II, he studied and played football at Mississippi State and after graduating, he worked for a county agent and later as a fertilizer salesman for Mississippi Chemical.

My wife’s grandfather was the county agent who hired Clower; this was my first connection of any kind with him. A more personal connection came later.

The story goes that when he was working for Mississippi Chemical, he developed a reputation for telling funny stories to boost his sales. Tapes of his stories eventually reached the hands of a group who saw the potential of Clower’s tales. As a result, his stories were spread around the country and one in particular, “The Coon Hunt” was awarded a platinum record for sales of upward of $1 million. His stand-up comedy act earned him a spot on the Grand Ole Opry and became one of the most popular events creating belly laughs across the country.

Now, for my personal connection with Clower. The date was April 11, 1990. I had been invited on a media crappie fishing trip to Ross Barnett reservoir just outside Jackson, MS where I met my guide Bill Pettit for a day of crappie fishing. It was windy and cold and the fish didn’t bite.

At the end of the day, Pettit and I headed for a café for a bite. While there, I picked up a copy of a local paper, thumbed through it and found a photo of Pettit and Clower.

“You have fished with Jerry Clower?”, I asked. “Oh yeah, he comes over here occasionally to fish with me. In fact,” Pettit said, “he’s coming tomorrow. How’d you like to fish with him?’

What kind of question is that? Of course I would love to get to meet and fish with him, so I called my wife and told her I’d be fishing an extra day.

After spending the night at the Red Roof Inn in Jackson, I was at the café on the lake bright and early when Clower walked in. Pulling up a chair, he ordered a breakfast of a plate of bacon, eggs and biscuits. Pettit introduced us, told him I was a writer who wanted to fish with him. After polishing off his meal, he looked a me and asked if I was ready. Of course I was.

Clower had brought along his own fishing rig and led me out to his “Jerry Clower Perch Jerkin’ Special”, a boat the manufacturer had made just for him.

“You know how to drive a boat?”, he asked me. I did but the thought of being the skipper of Jerry Clower’s boat with just me and him in it was somewhat nerve wracking.

We launched and I followed his direction to head for his favorite crappie fishing hole, me at the controls and Clower rared back in his seat.

We caught a few crappie; nothing to brag about but I remember catching a small one and was about to toss it back when he stopped me. “No….No….don’t throw that back; my maid will scale it and she’ll fry it whole; that’s the way I like ‘em,” he said.

My one regret was that the photo lab – this was in the days before digital photography – ruined my several rolls of film I shot that day so I’m left with only my memories of getting to spend a day on the lake in his boat, just me and him and listening to him tell one funny story after another. You’d have thought he was on stage because his tales in a fishing boat were no different than they would have been with him entertaining a packed house.

Jerry Clower; thanks for giving this guy memories that can still create a chuckle from me 32 years later.

FISHING REPORT

BLACK BAYOU –No report this week. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323-8707 for latest information.

OUACHITA RIVER – The water is high and rising and with all the rain, no fishing reports. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.

LAKE D’ARBONNE – A gate has been opened to relieve some of the pressure on water levels. Bass fishing has been good fishing the points up Coney with soft plastics working best. Crappie fishing has been fair with most caught in areas like the back of Stowe Creek with shiners working best. Bream are scattered and fair while catfish are biting cold worms fished off the banks. For latest information, call Anderson Sport Center at 368-9669 or Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.

LAKE CLAIBORNE – A good many catfish have been caught on yo-yos baited with cold worms with the area near the dam producing best. Bream have been fair while the crappie have been best fishing shiners 8-10 feet deep around brush. No report this week on bass or stripers. For latest information, call Kel’s Cove at 927-2264 or Terzia Tackle at 278-4498.

CANEY LAKE – Bass continued to school and are hitting shad imitation lures. Bigger fish to around 10 pounds have been caught fishing underwater humps and drop-offs with oversized plastic worms and deep diving crank baits working best. Crappie are fair fishing shiners or jigs around deep brush. Bream are fair. No report on catfish this week. For information contact Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278-4498 or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.

LAKE POVERTY POINT – The only species biting this week seem to be the catfish. Lots of smaller eating sized fish along with a few bigger ones have been caught. Nothing to report on bass, crappie or bream. For latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at 318/878-0101.

LAKE ST. JOHN – No report. For information, call Ken Mahoney at 318-201-3821.

LAKE YUCATAN – The water is on a slow fall. Crappie are fair but some big ones are coming in. Bass fishing has been good with fish to 4 pounds caught on spinner baits. Catfishing has been good on shiners. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.


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