Fifty Years Ago
It was January and a voice on the other end of the phone said, “Hey, Cap, how would you like to head down south this weekend?” I responded by asking, “Great! Where?” “Louisiana,” he said. Giving up a cold winter’s day at that time of year to head down to the warm country was a no-brainer. However, in the midst of mentally sorting out which rods and reels to take, my thoughts were interrupted when I heard, “I’ve got a pair of 50-yard line upfront tickets for you. I can’t make it.”
Then it dawned on me that Super Bowl IV between the Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings was being played in New Orleans. It was 1970 and scalped tickets were bringing in a whopping $2,500—compared to this year’s Super Bowl where tickets were going for upwards of $10,000! Saying “No” was not an option. The die was cast and the rush to find tickets for the flight down was on, leaving hotel accommodations to chance. Little did I realize what was in store.
The flight down was rather uneventful, other than chatting with the ever-popular Heywood Hale Broun—a renowned sportswriter who was known for his outlandish patched sport jackets—who was seated immediately to my right. Upon landing, bumping in to a cabbie who was in the know, and making a few inquiries, we finally checked into a totally booked backroads motel. Weather was threatening and the sights and food were as expected—out of this world. Bourbon Street was packed full of football enthusiasts and there was entertainment everywhere.
Looking ahead, I saw a familiar gentleman sitting on a barstool with his back facing the street. The bar abutted a walkway and, as I approached, I recognized that it was Walter Cronkite. “I’d like to buy you a drink, if you’re Walter,” I said. It was and I did. We chewed the fat for bit about the upcoming game and miscellaneous news stuff before parting ways. However, we did meet up again much later in the Martha’s Vineyard aboard his 48-foot yacht, the Wyntje, that was moored by his quaint island home.
Rain came down, the field was wet, and the scoreboard was hung from a crane at one end of the field. This was the final AFL-NFL World Championship Game before the two leagues merged. Johnny Carson’s bandleader, Doc Severinsen, eventually broke out with “The Star-Spangled Banner” after an air balloon had a brush with the fans and the players hit the field.
Game on! The Minnesota Vikings’ Purple People Eaters—players like Alan Page, Carl Eller, Gary Larson, and Jim Marshall—were in full battle array, along with quarterback Joe Kapp. Len Dawson, the Chiefs’ signal caller and eventual MVP, skillfully connected with Mike Garrett and Otis Taylor as the 80,500-plus fans cheered and head coaches Hank Stram and Bud Grant busily contemplated plays on the sidelines.
Halftime featured a reenactment of the Battle of New Orleans as announcer and former New York Giants’ kicker Pat Summerall continued with his coverage. When the final whistle blew, the Chiefs had defeated the heavily favored Vikings by the final score of 23-7. It was Dave Osborn’s memorable upside-down diving touchdown that finally put the Vikings on the board.
This super weekend also included an unforgettable one-on-one conversation with trumpeter and bandleader Al Hirt in his simple dressing room above the club of jazz clarinetist Pete Fountain. After being invited to the club’s private room, drinks and conversations were had with members of the Chiefs’ team, including Dawson, Stram, and about a dozen others. It seemed that no matter where I went, I bumped into some public figure. Not to disappoint, my seat partner on the return flight was none other than Severinsen. What a fun-filled weekend!
On the Water
The calendar flipped and the unseasonable weather continued with daytime shoreline air temperatures remaining in the high 40s, even brushing 51 degrees at one point. Inshore Long Island Sound temperatures still hovered between the high 30s and low 40s, even when accompanying by periodic gusty winds.
As ice is mostly limited to the northwest and northeast parts of the state, open water still prevails inland with anglers taking advantage of the mild conditions. A variety of species are being caught from trout, bass, and pickerel to catfish, crappie, and panfish, while Atlantic salmon is still in play. Tidal rivers are experiencing striped bass activity and the Sound is seeing schools of small baitfish, as well as some Atlantic herring being consumed by resident seals.
For the shellfishers, low tides will be good throughout the coming week, returning to normalcy before heading back down to negative ones. Both air and water temperatures should be pleasant and the ground softer than it normally would be for this time of year. However, a longer tine rake is recommended. In addition, the birders have been out and about, observing anything from common birds and waterfowl to birds of prey.
Although traditions rank high in American culture (groundhogs aside), based on our recent weather patterns, it looks as though springtime conditions this year will arrive earlier than the astronomical date of Thursday, March 19—the official vernal equinox. Therefore, look for fish activity to perk up sooner.
Note: Email us pics of your catches to share with our USA and international fishing friends who keep up with the latest fishing news and frequent social media.
For all things fishy including bait, swing by the shop (203-245-8665) open seven days located at 21 Boston Post Road, Madison. Until next time from your Connecticut shoreline’s full-service fishing outfitter, where we don’t make the fisherman, we make the fisherman better...