Queen Shorter and her family, Lawrence transplants from the Mississippi Delta, can be found several evenings a week — and often on the weekends — fishing at the star-shaped lake appropriately named Lone Star, in southwest Douglas County.
“We just like to fish,” Shorter says in a muted Southern drawl, loosely monitoring three fishing poles at the lake on a recent weekday afternoon. “It’s in our blood.”
There were about a dozen people fishing on Lone Star this particular day — as there are most warm days — but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who’s been doing it longer at Lone Star than Shorter and her niece, Linda Hunter, a pastor at Community Church of God in Lawrence.
“Pull it, pull it,” interrupts Hunter, as Shorter has a bite.
“I got it,” Shorter says.
The excitement quickly dies as Shorter pulls a puny looking crappie out of the calm lake waters. It’ll be going right back where it came from.
The duo have been fishing at Lone Star — created in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps — for nearly 50 years, they estimate, ever since they moved to the area in 1965.
Hunter and Shorter are not particular about what type of fish they reel in. At Lone Star they catch crappie, catfish and bass.
“Whatever’s biting,” Shorter says.
On this day, they’ve brought some relatives; cousins, husbands and grandchildren who circle about on another dock. Shorter and Hunter seem to be protective of their area, preferring that it just be the two of them on their dock.
“We got a crowd,” says Shorter, somewhat unenthusiastically.
Shorter guards a red cooler filled with the day’s bounty. They’ll fillet them tonight, or add to the freezer stash.
Hunter says there’s no better way of relaxing than shooting out a pole at Lone Star Lake.
And the cellphone, buzzing with parishioners or family members with the day’s troubles?
“I cut it off,” Hunter says. “This is my time.”
Hunter jokes that Shorter first got her hooked on fishing, as she’d tag along in the early years as a caddie of sorts.
“We went because we had to carry all her supplies,” Hunter says with a chuckle.
Conversation ebbs and flows between the two. In five decades of fishing together, talk is a relaxed back and forth, Shorter more reserved, Hunter more emphatic.
Why do they come out here? What is it about fishing they enjoy?
The two seem somewhat baffled by the questions from the reporter in a tie.
“It’s just therapeutic,” Shorter says. “You never get too busy to find time.”