SI Vault
Ralph Moncrief
November 22, 1976
Grabble fishing, at least as practiced in East Texas, is a sport that requires steely nerves and such a hunger for a fish dinner that it overcomes the fear of those "other" things lurking beneath the quiet backwaters of creeks and stock ponds. Grabble fishing is not practiced as openly as it used to be. It is now frowned upon by game wardens, and grab-biers grabble at their own peril. Today, if you are caught in the act and brought to justice, your hoped-for dinner will cost you from $10 to $200, depending on the judge.
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November 22, 1976

Grabbling Is Scary And Now Illegal, But It Is Still Done By Fish Folk

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"Man!" Ray whooped. "I've got two of 'em!"

Slowly, he withdrew his arm, careful not to fall off the log or lose his catch. As he brought his catch above the surface, he was eyeball to eyeball with a cottonmouth moccasin doubled up in a tightly clenched fist, its tail beating the air.

For a long, paralyzing moment Ray gazed into the sinister black eyes and at the darting tongue. Then, with a toss like a discus thrower, he flung the moccasin from him. It coiled through the air like a piece of dirty rope, splashed into the murky water and disappeared in a boiling froth.

Ray fell off his pine log and skimmed the 25 yards to the opposite shore. If that swim had been stopwatched, it would have set a record that would be standing till this day.

That cottonmouth catch made a former grabbler out of Ray, and also his buddies. Grabbling in the sand-hill stock pond ceased, and it didn't take a warning from a game warden, either.

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