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Half Moon Lake

 
 English Bee or English Pea Lake, Deep in the back woods of Calhoun county. This lake used to be one of the premiere lakes for the ever popular ''Bream''. That fact alone erased any knowledge the fisherman had of another fact that there were at least five alligators in this lake during the period of 1973 thru 1976. The bream were so thick or healthy that you needed a come-a-long to bring them in once you had hooked them. Well once this little secret got out,
    the ever infamous ''Outlaws'' packed up and headed out to the outback's of English Bee for a weekend of championship bream fishing. Some of Ouachita county's top Bream anglers gathered for this weekend of macho mania.
Let's introduce
the gang, that is if my hard drive has retained this data. Heading up the crew was ''Wild Child'', (Alton Burton) Walter Purifoy, ''Numpy'' (Ernie Purifoy), ''Cree'' (Maurice McCree), ''Tokyo'' (O'Neal) ''Mud'' (M. J. Williams) ''Ralph'' (Raymond Morris) who would later gain yet another alias (Gubbie Dust Baby), and of course yours truly ''Fig'' (W. D. Watkins). At the time of this fishing trip we had become a full outfitter crew. As we were paired off in two men  
    per boat each team had an area of responsibility. A team of four took to the lake and set and bait yoyo's while, a team of four remained on the bank of the lake to erect the camp, tents and an evening meal of which ''Ralph'' spear-headed.
 By the time the team returned from the lake baiting and take the initial pick from the yoyo's for the evening meal, it was planned that the ''Head Mule-Skinner & Bottle Washer'' would have everything ready to receive the catch and fry it up. NOW!! Here is where the action and the grease gets to popping. After we had taken our initial catch from the yoyo's we decided to clean the fish for the bank crew since they did have to set up the tents and get the cooking
gear set up. As we started back up the lake ''Cree being the observant outdoorsman that he is noted to me that there was no smoke or fire emerging from the campsite. A bit of small talk between us was exchanged to the point if ''Ralph'' and the crew on the bank had gotten taken by the alligators or the wild hogs of which both were damn good possibilities. Well quickly dismissed this thought and begin to make contact with the crew on the bank. As we threw out a couple of coded crew calls, we caught silence as there were no returns to our calls. As we neared the bank and our safety begin to be a concern we begin another transmission of communication which consisted of, ''Hey you MF's plan on starting a fire before ''Bigfoot'' and his crew roll in to dine in. ''Cree and myself were leading the team back into the bank, and as
''The Yuk-A-Lilly-Lady docked in we were at alost for words. The bank team had obviously been busting the balls, because they had the tens set up, kitchen set up, trucks had been positioned into a U formation and a pile of brush and wood piled up that would make any arsonist proud. BUT!!! No fire. As our team dismounted from our watercrafts we approached the team attempting to ignite the pile of brush which would provide us a nice conversation fire. We the lake team attempted to offer some suggestions of getting the fire started but ''Ralph'' and the bank team would not here of it and lashed out strongly for us to get back and let them handled it. As we all get older, we really have to thank GOD for our blessings, for on that day it was truly a blessing and one of the nicest gestures that the ''Mule-Skinners'' ever extended while I was running with the ''Outlaws''. Well we complied and in doing so secured a couple of cold brewskys's and watched the show. Like I said my hard drive now has corrupt files so the Bank Team members and names may be different but let me introduce them. We had ''Tokyo'' and Walter Purifoy heading the Ground Support Equipment (tents, and truck formation). Handling the Class 1 efforts (Mule-Skinner & Bottle Washer) to include Pyro-Technics were ''Wild Child'' and ''Ralph. As I said we the lake team stood back as instructed and begin to notice that there was some disagreement within the bank team on how to attain the targeted goal of a fire by dusk. After a lengthy discussion between this team and a number of attempts to get the fire started utilizing many hazardous materials and chemicals all we had was colony of oak kiln keeping hope alive at the base of the Kilaminjara pile of brush and wood. As we all stood sipping our beer starring at the smoldering pile it was clear that we would not unite as brother around the fire to sing Kum-Baya tonight. But all of a sudden in a New York minute ''Ralph'' snapped, I don't know if it was his Army training as he
was an Army Staff Sergeant in ''Nam'' or if it was the thought of his life long ambition to become a chemist, Ralph took action. I remember him dropping his beer and saying we're going to have a fire. ''Ralph rushed to one of the corner's of the U-formation and returned with a 32oz cup of what was believed to be 87 octane. Within a mater of seconds our lives would be changed forever. As ''Ralph'' returned inside the U and squared of with that pile he curled that 32oz of octane back like it was a 16lb poly-urethane bowling ball, and rolled that octane right into the pile with a perfect follow thru. It is now clear to us all that ''Ralph'' was not a very good bowler, because he did not release the 32oz container. It is at the point ''Ralph'' is transformed from ''Ralph'' to ''Gubbie-Dust-Baby''. It is at this point that we watched in awe, as our once ice cold beers romanced our hands the quickly felt like a 7-11 coffee on a cold winter day. We all focused on Gubbie-Dust as he was in the fight of his life. That flame caught on to the fumes from that container of which Gubbie was holding and charged at him like a raging bull at a Matador. Gubbie's team was somewhat united and in a semi-formation up until that flame charged which left Gubbie all alone. When the flame receded and the smoke cleared Gubbie was left with a very synched bearded little to no eyebrows, an ego kicked in the nuts, and an F- in chemistry due to no safety plan. After all of us offered Gubbie a little moral support and uplift him, we all reached for cold beers and started to chatter. Numerous murmurs and giggles were heard through out the night such as, (That damn Gubbie-Dust, Hey Gubbie can I get my catfish blackened tomorrow, and on and on. Yeap we retired to the tents that night full of laughs and giggles as if we were all 11 & 12 year olds in the boy scouts and the scout master had pulled a fubar. We caught a lot of fish that weekend. Time flies when you're having fun. I got a chance to visit Milton, Raym
and this week, and spoke with Maurice this week. It's been 30 plus years, it's good to have good friends and good memories. Baring the laughs and jokes that night we maintained our brotherhood of unity and we did sing that camp fire song. I don't think none of us ever took pictures during the expeditions but the next time I'm home I am going to get pictures of as many of the Outlaws I can and post them to this article or to the site. Naw!! It wasn't Kum-Baya. We sang FIRE!!! by the Ohio Players. (SMILE) Says Walter Watkins

One of the best lakes to fish in Southern Arkansas. Around 1974, I learned to use a Fly Rod on this lake with the help of Maurice McCree. Actually maurice taught me on the bank of this lake before we got in the boat. Plenty of Bream here as the will bed up in the spring. One year I was fishing here with another good friend Milton Williams (MUD SLANGER), the Bream was hitting so hard and fast we had to turn our backs on the spot which we were fishing just to bait the hook again. They were almost jumping in the boat. One night we were camping out on this lake and Maurice had gone out to check the Yo-Yo's. He got to the end of the lake and decided he would do some casting for bass as he headed back in to the bank. He says as he trolled back up the lake, his rod took a hard tug and he knew he had gotten hung up on one of the trees that had fallen in the lake the previous fall. He says that after a minute of so trying to take the rod tip and unhanging himself he was about to cut the line when the rod tip made a violent bend and at this time he realized that he had a fish on the line and was not hung up. He goes on to say that by this time the Columbian Red Ride was gone and the battle was on. He says he fought this fish about fifteen or more minutes and finnally netted him. Oh!! Excuse me we are talking about Maurice, he lip landed him. None the less he brought back a beautiful large mouth bass that weighed between 10-12 pounds. I do not think that any of us ever imagined fish being in this lake that size until Cree strutted that trophy. Well naturally this called for a ceremonial Columbian Red Ride and a cold brewzky and another brewzky. Well by this time it's getting late and the Red is taking it's affect (Munchies). Now let me introduce you to the rest of the oufit; Milton, Ernie, Raymond, Hamp, Cree, and your truly. We being the upstanding gentlemen that we are we never take advantage of another sportmans game, but it was late and we were getting hungry from the Red Ride, so... we made a couple of suggestion of getting something to eat and after close discussion of taxing the trophy it ended up being just that a discussion. Raymond assembled the kitchen and the trophy to this day is a memory in our minds and the reason for the extra 3 inches in my waist line. We ate the bass like it was a thanksgiving turkey. Many good memories at Half Moon Lake. Fig Says Walter Watkins






      


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