LEESYLVANIA PARK, Va.
At Smallwood State Park, on the Maryland side of the Potomac River, dozens of out-of-town bass tournament fishermen were still busy untying the safety straps on their boat trailers when a Virginia visitor, Marty Magone, already had set the hook to various largemouth bass in a nearby creek. The rugged-looking Magone also lost 14 or 15 plastic worms that he said he could feel the fish “touching,” consequently setting the hook so forcefully that the entire worm would be stripped from the barbed metal. On top of that, he already entertained thoughts about having another morning meal - he with the powerful appetite - and it was only 7:30 a.m.
By 8:30, Magone, who has a home on the shores of south central Virginia’s Lake Gaston, caught a few more bass, lost more soft plastics (which were biodegradable, by the way), but then stopped his fishing in a Charles County feeder creek and unzipped a bag filled with ice, sodas and an assortment of his famous Egg Splatter sandwiches.
Suddenly, there was tension in the air.
Magone, after all, was fishing with me, the co-author of a now out-of-print book titled “Never Let a Skinny Guy Make Sandwiches.” That meant the food supply the big fellow had brought along would have to withstand serious critique from me.
Magone’s response? “I’m not even a little bit worried,” and with that handed me a sandwich. The goodies between the two pieces of whole-grain bread spread a luscious aroma over the tidal marsh our boat was butted against.
Magone’s Egg Splatter sandwich consists of egg salad into which chopped Vidalia onions are added, followed by sweet pickles, bacon bits, real mayonnaise and a squirt of Crystal or Texas Pete. This wonderful melange is gently folded with a fork and then literally ladled onto the bread. There is so much egg salad and supporting taste sensations on each sandwich that a serious opening of the mouth is required.
We ate. Magone finally asked, “Well?” All I could answer with was a muffled, “Mmmmph,” before I loosened my belt.
The fishing eventually continued and we again began to catch largemouths while the tide dropped ever more. In a see-saw battle, we hooked and released maybe 20 bass apiece, then stopped and ate one more of the former Marine’s Egg Splatter wonders.
How Magone consequently lost another 20 plastic worms will forever remain a mystery, but he did, smiling like the Cheshire cat. Happily, on this day there seemed to be no end to the cooperative fish.
Finally, Magone, who also served as a Prince George’s County Police corporal in his younger days, said, “Now that we’ve stilled our hunger and slaked our thirst, suppose you tell me what your best sandwich consists of.”
I cackled like a crazed chicken. “Son,” I said, “you begin with fresh-baked French rolls - four for each man or woman in the boat. Slice them in two, slather both sides with mayo, then begin with three super-thin slices of seasoned roast beef from the deli counter at your grocery store. Be sure that some meat hangs out on all sides because you don’t want to have to bite twice into a sandwich before you know what’s on it. Now add a couple of thinly sliced rings of Bermuda onion, add three thin slices of deli ham, followed by a layer of Mt. Olive pickled pepper rings, add three slices of deli turkey, followed by sweet pickle chips, then a couple more pieces of ham, thinly sliced tomato, two slices of the aforementioned thin roast beef and press down the top of the French roll. Plenty of paper-thin deli meats are the secret to great, satisfying sandwiches.”
Magone looked at me and nodded his approval. “It sounds terrific,” he said.
We decided that the sandwich wars ended before they ever began. Respect for each side’s kitchen skills was firmly established and the bass fishing and plastic worm losing could now resume.
Some days life is not only good; it’s fantastic.