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Tuesday, April 24, 2001

Smokey Briggs


By Smokey Briggs

A tribute to Mr. Bluegill
and his cousins

As a kid I spent a couple of lifetimes matching wits with bluegills and sundry other brands of pan fish. Pan fish, by the way, refers to the fact that they fit nicely in a skillet.

Now I have heard that some uppity folks call these fish perch, and consider them less than desirable prey.

That is definitely not the case down south, where I was born, nor was it north of Dallas-Fort Worth, where I did most of my growing up.

There, pan fishing is considered equal sport to bass fishing and deer hunting. Generally the little rascals are better on the table too.

Pan fish are the equal opportunity employers of the fishing world.

Pan fish live everywhere. I've fished for them in urban ponds, deep mountain lakes two-days hike into the hills, and every place in between.

Best of all, they lurk near the banks so a fishing boat is not required.

While there are thousands of expensive lures and jigs meant to entice the wily sunfish to strike when artfully cast from a modern spinning reel, all a fellow really needs is a cane pole, a bobber and a piece of earthworm wiggling on the hook.

A six-year-old boy armed with a cane pole and a few worms is on equal ground with every other pan fisherman in the world. You cannot say that about many sports or pastimes.

Ruby went fishing for the second time in her life last Saturday.

The first time she was not quite three and long hours by a Montana trout stream yielded one rainbow trout. She was immensely proud, as she should have been, but it was a fishing trip to try the most patient of fishermen's patience, much less a three-year-old's.

I hoped for better luck Saturday for fear that she would lose interest in something her dad really enjoys. I figure she is my best shot at a fishing buddy for the next 40 years and I do not want to mess things up.

My old friend Mr. Bluegill did not let me down.

Five minutes after we wet a hook Ruby was squealing as her bobber plunged under the water.

That was it. She was hooked.

By lunchtime we had a nice mess of Bluegill perch and five of them Ruby had hooked without the least bit of help from Dad.

I'm not sure who was more proud.

Fresh fish tasted good that night and Ruby is ready to go fishing any time, any place.

That is a good thing, I think.

My dad got me hooked on fishing early and never complained about me wasting countless Saturday mornings down at the creek doing battle with the perch.

Watching Ruby grow, and knowing what I do of the world, I think he may have had an ulterior motive in encouraging my fishing habit.

It is hard for a kid to get into a lot of trouble sitting on a creek bank watching a fishing cork. And worms are free.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Smokey Briggs is the editor and publisher of the Pecos Enterprise whose column appears on Tuesdays. He can be e-mailed at:

Our View

Hate crimes bill needs to be locked up

The proposed Hate Crime's bill floating around in the Texas legislature needs to be filed in the trashcan.

So far, most reporting about the bill has been half-hearted and supporters of the bill have created an effective smokescreen that the press is unwilling or unable to see through.

Those opposed to the bill argue correctly that the bill will create a special class of citizens that are more special than others under the eyes of the law.

Those supporting the bill respond that we already have criminal laws that enhance punishment depending on the status of the victim, such as the enhanced penalties crimes committed against children or police officers. They argue that the hate crimes bill is the same thing.

These folks are either stupid or lying.

Yes, we do have laws that create special classes of citizens, and these laws provide enhanced penalties when the victim of a crime is a member of such a class.

The difference is that these classes are clearly defined and based on the factual status of the victim, not the possible thoughts of the accused criminal. It is not hard to determine if a person is a police officer or under the age of 18.

No rationale person can compare these laws with the hate crimes bill and determine that there is no difference.

In comparison, hate crime laws make the victim's status the starting point of a ridiculous witch hunt _ a witch hunt looking for motivations based in the accused's beliefs or feelings about a certain class of people.

There can be no black and white standard of evil motivation _ just a touchy-feely guess that will be more deeply motivated by a juror's personal sympathies than hard evidence.

If a police officer is killed and society wants to enhance the penalty for killing him, no matter the motivation behind the crime, then so be it.

That is what we have now.

If the hate crimes bill simply enhanced the penalty for killing a person because they were Irish, Catholic, black, or homosexual, or any other special class, that would be fine.

It is not hard to determine such facts.

But enhancing the penalty for killing someone, not based on who the victim was, but rather on what the criminal thought about the victim, is sheer nonsense.

Your View

Drinking and driving don't mix together

It's dark, cold, and windy


When you said good-bye

My world died

Never in my life

I thought I would

Feel like this

But now I know

Nothing is perfect

I said sorry a

Thousand times

But nothing came back

Each night I think of what

Our future would be like

If I didn't drink the first drink

And drive

Now my friends are both six feet under

And I am stuck now with the pain

The scars on my face

And the memory in my dreams

I'm sorry

Now I know never to drink and drive


Age 12
Zavala Middle School

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York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
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