They call him, Mister Sweetness!
By Bob Zettler
August 14, 2017
Some call me obsessed. Some call me crazy. And some stupid. Whatever the case, I love to go fishing and hunting. And over the years I have been blessed to have come into contact with so many good and great people who hunt and/or fish. And while ALL of these individuals have been kind to me over the years, and years, and....years, when it comes to all-around Walter Payton(ish), I think of Brian Cleland.
We first met via Crappie.com maybe 8-10 (??) years ago when he learned he was also going to be fishing at Lake Shelbyville for Crappie when a coworker and me were headed over one day and we exchanged contact information to share how we were doing or if we ran into trouble. Now my coworker and I were having a difficult time finding Crappie and around 1030 AM Brian texted me to ask how we were doing and I replied, “not so good.” It turned out Brian was already done and he asked where we were as he was down at the south end of the lake, while we were up north of the Findlay Marina. Now he had put in down there but a few minutes later he motored up and officially introduced himself.
After some initial banter he offered to put us on fish before he left and we accepted! This is where it gets interesting. You see he had been fishing way down by Coon Cove and when we arrived he threw out his own marker buoys and told us exactly where to drop our lines. Within minutes we were boating Crappie, GOOD Crappie! Unfortunately, he had to leave soon but told me to hold onto the buoys and he would get them another time. Now how often does a stranger do something like this for some yahoo who he only knows from an Internet forum!
Well the years have passed and he and I fish every now and then out of his boat where I ALWAYS have a great time but it had been awhile until last Thursday. He had read of how I had been having a difficult time catching Crappie the last month and he took pity on me and offered to take me out after work the next week. We tentatively agreed on the next Thursday as I was headed to St. Louis for the morning but could be back for a late afternoon excursion. On that day while I was wrapping up my business, he texted me throughout the day about whether he could get out of work and take me for our previously arranged 4 PM start. No need to fear, he moved the start time forward to 445 PM and he literally pulled in right behind me as I arrived at Bo Woods,
A quick turnaround and we are on the water headed to our first spot by 5 PM. And it was a doozy and one I probably would have a difficult time finding or holding on due to its location way out in the lake – my boat hates the wind. He decides for us to use just one pole each and its on like Donkey Kong!!! Almost every cast of mine brought up the elusive “Over” Crappie that I had been searching for the past several months while Brian was, as he said, “getting the small ones out of my way.”
We soon had nearly a dozen keepers in the live-well and moved on to the next spot where we added several more. Now we were racing darkness so time was of the essence, so we only spent a short time at each spot, especially since we had so little time left. And, much to my pleasure, he was also trying to show me where to look and find brush-piles that I normally have the darnedest time finding even with a GPS and even a leftover marker buoy floating on it. Heck-fire, he said I could mark the spots on my GPS to boot! What a guy...
Anyway, to wrap this up without telling you all the six spots he introduced me to, suffice to say that in 150 minutes from the time we entered the water till we were back in the parking lot, he and I put 23 keepers (ALL our OVERS and the rest UNDERS) in the live-well. In addition, as I was having so much fun, I only marked 2.5 of the spots but I am totally content with that since that is but an infinitesimal portion of the spots he has on Lake Shelbyville alone and each pone produced more for us in a short time than my spots had in an all day outing.
So, Brain Cleland (aka Mister Sweetness), my continued admiration for your fishing prowess and appreciation for how you have helped me achieve what I have as I fish for Crappie! Thank you so very much.