The Lake Cue Story

Marc Paul

I thought that a short blog would be preferred to not writing a blog at all, which is why, a couple of weeks ago, I wrote a short blog about my dentist’s recent offshore fishing trip down in the keys.  He had spent a LOT of time editing his video.  Man, I gotta say, I caught a little crap about that.  Okay, for those three of you regulars who read my blog, I’m sorry.  Obviously, you enjoy reading the longer stories of my sordid escapades.  Well, except for whoever those 1000 extra people are/were who read my blog AFTER I included the pictures of the girls in the bikinis from my recent Costa Rica fishing trip.  My readership, btw, increased to 2000 viewers on that particular post.

Amazing – the power of bikinis.  Well, okay, I admit, those girls were fricking amazing. So here they are one more time:  :-)

Costa Rica Bikinis

Okay, that should add another thousand new readers for this post!  (Yes, I have an understanding wife)

So, with that somewhat inappropriate introduction taken care of, I suppose it is time then to tell the story of “Lake Cue”.  But I warn you, if you perusing this blog to see more bikinis – it ain’t gonna happen.  You can stop reading now.  And if you are seeking a short blog, that ain’t gonna happen either.

For the rest of you, grab a big cup of steaming coffee, sit back in your chair and (hopefully) enjoy: “The Lake Cue Story”.

Oh, unfortunately, I can’t tell the ENTIRE story because it would involve hundreds of pictures and would comprise hundreds of pages, but I will tell you a little of the history and use our latest fishing trip as an example.

Enough of the introduction.  Let’s begin:

Nineteen years ago, Terri and I were asked to assist with the construction of a small house in Central Florida.  As a legacy, Terri’s grandparents:  Lea and George “H” Roberson were leaving a little money to the rest of the family to build a simple “A” frame house on their piece of property in Hawthorne, Florida on a little lake called “Cue Lake”.  They had owned the property since the 1940's. The new house wasn’t meant to be super-fancy, just something that would continue the lineage of fun and good family times that Terri’s side of the family and friends could continue to enjoy on this small waterfront property.

Weekend after weekend, for approx 2 years, while Cameron was just a baby, we all worked together, as a family, to build this house.  Terri's Uncle Tom has/had a lot of construction experience and Cousin Kevin is/was an engineer, so the two of them acted as the foremen.  The family really didn’t expect me to be able to assist as they knew I was a computer geek with little (almost zero) construction experience, but I learned a LOT during those two years.  

After a few years of working very hard every weekend, we got it done.  Then – we never used it again. (At least Terri and I didn’t)

Lake Cue

One summer day, many years after the Lake Cue house had been completed, Terri and I were sitting in our Tallahassee home, trying to figure out where to take our young kids (Cameron (8) and Delaney (3)) for a week in the summer and she asked me, “Why don’t we go to Lake Cue?”

“Lake Cue”, I replied, “I hate that place!  Uncle Tom is a damn drill-sergeant!  Don’t you remember?  We always called it the “Work House” cause that is ALL we did every weekend for two years”.  But having few options, and fewer dollars (at the time) we decided to check it out anyway.  We packed the kids in the car and drove 2.5 hours away. 

When people ask me, "Where is Lake Cue?”  I reply, “Well, go to Gainesville, turn left, go to nowhere, then go a little farther and you will be there”.  There isn’t much there.  The area is full of scrub-brush and small lakes.
Lake Cue

Sorry. Back to the story….

So it is a beautiful day, (somewhere around 2005) the sun is glistening off the lake, the breeze is blowing nicely, the kids are playing and laughing down by the water, Terri is sitting in a rocking chair on a huge deck (the deck floor I mostly build, btw), I am swinging in a hammock on same deck with a cold beer in my hand and I turn to Terri and say, “Tell me again, why I don’t like this place?”

Marc Paul

No, that isn't a picture from 2005, it is from 2016.  But the picture that was taken of me from 2005, which I can't find, was EXACTLY the same as this one.  Not much has changed.  This is my favorite spot at the house.  Although back in 2005, I was probably drinking Bud Light Lime and I looked MUCH younger.

So Terri and I enjoyed the place a few more times with our children.  Slowly, I learned to bass fish there (which is an entirely different and funny story that should be told someday).  As I started to improve at bass fishing, I thought it would be a good idea to bring a small boat down to the house.  So I did.  Just an old aluminum bass tracker boat that I bought from an old guy named Grover Cleveland (no, really) near Lake Seminole in Georgia:     
Lake Cue
(Coco loves to ride on the boat - and eat the fish.)

Once I had a boat there, things improved even more.  Now, we could take boat rides as a family, sight-see (hah) around the lake and I could fish around the weeds from the boat.  That was fun!  So one day, I was telling my good friends Nick and Gene about it and they said, “Hey, why don’t we schedule a "guys trip" there once a year to fish!”.  Great idea!

So we did.
Lake Cue

Nick, Gene and I started fishing there once a year.  Sometimes in the Spring, sometimes in the fall.  Then, since we are geniuses by nature, we had another great idea!  One of us said, “You know, we enjoy fishing so much, why don’t we have a guys trip here TWICE a year – once in the Spring and once in the Fall!”

Brilliant!  So we did.

Then we started bragging to our buddies about how many fish we were catching.  I mean, on a good weekend, we often were catching 30-40 bass.  We thought, at the time, that we were master bass fishers. (Bass Masters?)  More on that later.

Well, our buddies wanted some of that fish action, so more guys started "showing up".  The house only holds so many, so we kind of limited attendance at six.  The house comfortably sleeps six, but only because Jeff sleeps with, and spoons my dog Coco, on the futon in the living room.  More on that later – well, maybe not.

As far as my friends are concerned, I would say that we are, for the most part, responsible men.  We all have wives or girlfriends, most of us have children, most of us have responsible jobs. We take care of our families, and work hard at our stressful jobs.  We come from diverse backgrounds, with diverse careers, but that thread is the same.  Throughout the year, we do our best to be supportive men, doing necessary chores, attending necessary recitals and child baseball or ballerina practices.  As adults though, there are times when you just want to get away from it all.  I don't mean to do anything inappropriate, I just mean to escape.  I know, I know – women need that also, and I am perfectly fine with that.  But as of yet, no women have been invited to our men’s weekend.  (Except, ironically, Hannah, John's girlfriend, who showed up this last time for an hour for lunch)

Lake Cue

(Hannah's cute, so that will probably add 500 people to my readership.)

Come to think of it, I’m certain that she she is the only female (other than my dogs) who has ever been there with us at the lake during guy's weekend.  And she was only there for an hour at lunch.  Well, except for the “Lady Of The Lake” who was dancing in the moonlight in a very sheer white nightgown at 2:30 a.m. across the lake directly under the full moon next to a fire beckoning us to come closer through the fog. Once again, that is ANOTHER very interesting story that needs to be told on another day.

As the years have ticked by, I have come to think of Lake Cue as something as a magical place.  (Feel free to skip to the last paragraph for an explanation if you like).  There are no mansions on this lake, there aren’t beautiful docks or expensive boats or landscaped yards, or even paved roads, but that, in a way, is what makes it even more special.  There is an "energy" about the place that is indescribable.  You feel it after you have been there for a few days.

As men, when we go there, we don’t really leave the house except for our Saturday trip to Chiapinni’s to watch a few minutes of football and drink a beer.  More on that later also.  The warmth and essence of Nanny and Papa (Terri’s grandparents) remains.  I feel them.  In fact, I pray for them a great deal every time I am there.  I thank them for the use of “their” house.  I am truly grateful for the time I share there with my close friends. 

I know I type fast, but I don’t type fast enough to tell you the many stories that have transpired since we started fishing at Lake Cue.  And if I included all the stupid shit we have done there, I would need to seek a publisher for my novel.  So let’s wind the clock forward 8-10 years.  Let’s return to this year - 2016 and talk about our “latest” trip since it somewhat epitomizes our bi-annual adventures on location there.

On this “latest” trip we have:  Nick, Sam, Mike W (the big bad wolf), Mike W, Jeff, and me.  Sorry, I don’t use last names in my blog cause I know the “Internet bots” scan my blogs for names and direct sales references. 

Before we arrive, I usually send out an email allocating food supplies.  Everyone has a general idea as to what to bring.  If you come, you are responsible for your own beverages – whatever those might be!  You know, lots of water, Gatorade, hot tea, etc.  Oh yeah, and maybe a beer or two.  Maybe.

Typically, we arrive sometime on Thursday afternoon and leave sometime on Sunday afternoon, but I wanted to get an early start, so I left Wednesday evening.  My decision had absolutely nothing to do with currently living with six females.  I really wasn’t expecting any company on Wednesday, but Mikey called me around 10 p.m. and said he was almost there.  Cool!  I was still doing chores, stacking wood, setting up the house, preparing for the weekend.  Mike arrived around 11 p.m., we drank a few (2?) beers, and went to bed. Nothing special Wednesday night.

Mike and I got up early Thursday morning and took out my new jon boat.  I just got it from Bass Pro shops:
Lake Cue

Again, nothing special, just a little aluminum boat with a 9.9 HP four-stroke on the back, but perfect for what we need it for.

Mike and I start fishing – the fish started biting.  Mike caught 10 bass on Thursday.  I caught 21. 

Now I KNOW what you are thinking, “Marc likes to exaggerate.  He didn’t REALLY catch 21 fish in a single day”!  So here is my response to your skepticism:

If you are caught cheating / lying about your tallied Lake Cue fish count – you will never be allowed back.  I’m certain that includes me also.  Granted, as we all are drinking beer each night on the front porch recounting our glorious day of fishing, you are EXPECTED to lie about how big some of the fish you caught were - especially the ones you lost!  But, lying about the # of fish you caught is a capital offense, punishable by permanent lake expulsion.  You might as well slap my mother while she is naked in the bathtub.  We keep an exact tournament board of fish counts, by day, by person.  This is the “bible board” for the weekend.  There may/may not not be money involved, but there are SERIOUS bragging rights (not that I would ever brag) associated with the tournament board:

Lake Cue

Notice that I am ahead.  Well, it is hard to tell from this photo, but trust me - I am ahead.  And ALL my fish were the biggest!  The ones I lost were even bigger!  Huge!  So before you convince yourself that there is no way I could catch 21 bass in a day, let me honestly say that, on this trip, I was having problems with this new blue, braided line that I was using.  It kept breaking at the hook.  On Thursday, I lost at least 7-8 hooks when a fish hit.  I lost at least another 5-6 fish that hit my line and that I didn't catch for whatever reason. (Nothing to do with my technique, I can assure you). And, I lost at least 2-3 fish that jumped and then spit out the hook.  If I had caught all the fish that hit my line on Thursday, my count would have easily been somewhere around 36.  Thank you Mikey for devising a solution to the problem (a monofilament leader).

Alright, here it is, this is the FINAL board for this last weekend.  Part of the reason that I felt I needed to blog about Lake Cue was because we beat the old, long-standing record of "138" bass:

Lake Cue

If you can't read it, the board says "143" damn bass!

To say that Lake Cue is “prolific” as it relates to bass fishing, is quite the understatement.  The lake might not be that pretty because of all the weeds along the shoreline, but OMG do the bass (of all sizes) like it.  Perhaps it is because we are about the only people that fish the lake, and we only go twice a year.  I'm pretty sure the fish have a group meeting late Thursday night and say, "Hey guys, you know that thing that looks like a juicy worm, but isn't?  Yeah, don't touch it.  It hurts".  I swear they get smarter the day after we arrive.

To prove that everyone has a good time, here are a few pictures from our latest trip (in no particular order):

Lake Cue

Mike, with his 22nd bass!
Lake Cue

Sam caught 16 that weekend!
Lake Cue

Lake Cue

Lake Cue

Wait.. How did she get in here?  Okay, so I lied about no more bikinis!  My bad. :-)

Lake Cue

Lake Cue

Nick S (Still looking good after all these years my friend)

Lake Cue

           (Mikey's fish that he smushed next to the camera lens to make it appear bigger)

Lake Cue

Me taking a picture of Jeff NOT catching fish.
Lake Cue

My biggest one for the weekend.  Only about 5 pounds, but he was long!  Nowhere near the biggest fish we have caught in this lake.  He was just healthy.

Lake Cue

It is worth mentioning that we only go to ONE place during the entire weekend.  That place is a gas station.  It sells beer.  Not that we need the extra beer, it is just kind of a tradition.  The gas station has been around since 1935.  You never know who you might meet there!  Well, I can assure you that you won't meet one of those bikini girls that you saw above.

Lake Cue

Now, let’s talk about the “Lake Cue fish bylaws”.

Here is a subset:
1. The fish must be in the boat to count.
2.      Fish that hit the side of the gunwale and go back in – don’t count.
3.      Fish that hit the engine or prop and go back in – don’t count. (Wolff)
4.      Fish that fly OVER the boat – don’t count (Gene)
5.      If you keep the fish in the water; you touch it but it doesn't make it into the boat; then the fish gets away, it don't count.  
6.      If another person holds up the fish outside the boat by the line and the line snaps – it doesn’t count.  (See Rule #1)
7.      Catching fish while wading – counts.  You do not need to be in a boat.
8.      Fish that are smaller than your worm – count.
9.      Fish that are smaller than your hook – count.  It’s been done - numerous times!
10.   You may not use a net on the shoreline to increase your fish count by 20-30 tiny bass minnows.  Doesn’t count (Jim)
11.   If the boat capsizes (from empty beer bottles) and when you turn it back over and there is a fish in it.  Counts.
12.   Bream count.  Although you MUST give the guy in the boat crap about catching a stupid-ass fish.
13.   ALL fish caught while trolling – count.  Nobody particularly likes this rule, but they count.
14.   Dead fish found floating that are brought into the boat – don’t count.
15.   Catfish count.
16.   Small gators – don’t count.  They are NOT in the fish family.
17.   Fish caught by scoundrels who purchase ALL that color worms from the local store so that nobody else has that color – count.  (Jeff)
18.   Fish caught on another person’s hot pole – count. (See ethics guidelines)
19.   Fish caught by stealing a hot lure from another person’s tacklebox – count.  (See ethics guidelines)
20.   Fish on Thursday, all day – COUNT!  Not our fault you can’t get there late Wednesday night.
21.   Fish on Wednesday – Don’t Count.  This rule may change when we are all five years older.
22.   If you claim that a fish is over 8 pounds, it must be weighed.  You can claim it, and it counts, but nobody is going to believe that it was that big – even if you smushed it up against the camera lens to make it appear bigger. (Mikey)
23.   You do not have to have someone else on the boat to verify you caught your fish.  We use the honor system.  (See ethics guidelines and rules on lying).

There are sure to be more, but those are the bylaws we have experienced so far.

Now let’s talk about eating.

You might think that a bunch of guys sitting around fishing simply drink beer and eat potato chips.  You would be very, very wrong.  Both Nick and Jeff are excellent cooks.  At least one night, we have "steak night".  We each bring the juiciest steak we can find and cook it up with lots of side dishes.  One night is reserved for the "Seafood Boil".  Both Nick and Jeff are wizards at this.  Here is an example from our latest trip (Jeff's cooking):

Lake Cue

Lake Cue

(It was worth two pictures).

But wait, this latest trip, in addition to Jeff's amazing meal, Nick decided to have a steamed "Crawfish night".  Wow!  And to top it off, he had some kind of pork skewers bathed in a creamy glazed sauce that was... orgasmic:

Lake Cue

Anyone hungry yet?

As many of you know, I usually blog about offshore fishing.  Don’t get me wrong, offshore fishing is wonderful.  I love it also – but for different reasons.  There is no doubt that there can be significant risks involved with offshore fishing.  Wind, waves, bad weather, capsizing, big hooks, big teeth, sea-sickness, engine problems, etc.  The challenge of offshore fishing (and the size of the fish) make it fun for me and those who choose to fish with me on my big boat south of Tallahassee.  But Lake Cue fishing is the antithesis of all that.  Here’s why:

The lake is surrounded by trees.  And since it is located in Central Florida, the lake isn’t affected by wind like the coast is.  At its deepest, the lake is only 20 ft, and most of the time where we are fishing near the shoreline, it is only 6-8 feet deep.  If a thunderstorm threatens, it only takes us 2-3 minutes to chug our little motors home. 

Allow me to summarize it this way, and I will use pictures of Jeff and Nick on this latest trip that someone took, in silhouette, to illustrate:

Lake Cue

Lake Cue

Lake Cue

In summary (and thanks for reading this far):

When you are brought together in fellowship with your buddies on this lake; when you have spent a relaxing, beautiful day catching fish of all sizes; when you have a fishing pole and a cold beer in your hand while standing on the bow of your little boat; when the spectral colors of the sensational sunset over the calm, still waters are so vivid, rich and beautiful that it literally takes your spiritual breath away; you achieve that rare, but distinctly memorable, yet fleeting "moment" in your life where you are completely and deeply thankful.  You actually appreciate and respect your complicated daily life for everything it is.  Then you stare at the first visible star above the orange, wispy clouds and wholeheartedly thank God for the blessing of family and friends.  You will close your eyes and quickly pray for the ones you have lost; and in your mind's eye, you will vividly remember and cherish the love and laughs you had with them – then you will understand; you will understand instinctively bobbing on this little, inconsequential lake, with pure love in your soul, just how lucky you are to be alive - at that "moment".

Lake Cue is a magical place and I am a blessed man.  Thank you to Barbara and Uncle Tom for letting my friends and me use it every year.

Thank you (all three of you) for reading this long post and may God bless you.

Captain Marc Paul
Captain Marc Paul

My Dentist

Both Terri and I have had recent dental work - enough apparently, for our dentist (Darrh Bryant) to enjoy ANOTHER week's vacation down in the Florida Keys with his friends.

Something is amiss when he gets to fish more than me.

Between work, hurricanes, and whatever, I haven't been offshore much in the last couple of months.  Sorry.

I hope to be back soon. Meanwhile, please enjoy Darrh's recent trip by clicking on the link below his picture.  (He really is getting good at video editing - almost as good as his dentistry)

Captain Marc Paul