Fishing on the river

Going fishing was an activity that captured the imaginations of country boys when I was a kid down on the farm.

With a cane pole and a can of worms or an un-hatched wasp nest in hand, we’d head off to a nearby creek anytime we could get a break from fieldwork.  Such lapses in a workday were rare as long as crops were in the cultivation stage. However, we held fast to the slim hope that a stray thundershower would visit our farm and run us out of the fields for the remainder of the day.

Two or three hours of free time were all we needed to make our day. Our heartbeats quickened as we dug bait and dreamed of dropping a hook, line, sinker and bait into one of our favorite fishing holes.

The muddier the water, the more success we had, especially when it came to attracting catfish to our bait. Occasionally, we’d return home with a string of 12 to 15 fish.

Such fishing trips were small fry, however, compared to the occasional opportunities we had to accompany our father, uncles and neighbors on an overnight fishing/camping trip on the Tallapoosa River. These outings usually occurred in mid-July after most crops were laid by and farm work was in limbo. The designation of choice was Irvin Shoals, a two-mile bed of shallow water with rocks and potholes on the northern edge of Lake Martin.

Preparation for the overnight event offered lots of excitement. Teams split up to gather bait, pack camping supplies and assemble personal safety gear including shoes.

The fishing site was an hour’s drive on mostly dirt roads and was not recommended for automobiles. Fishing parties would fill the cabs and beds of two or three pickup trucks and had more than enough manpower to prevent a truck from getting stuck in a mud hole.

Upon arrival at the river, some members of the fishing party would gather firewood, unpack and set up a camp while others would fish either from the banks and in the shoals.

My first river fishing experience was a memorable one. My father, a novice fisherman, hooked and landed a 12-lb. yellow catfish the first time he dropped his hook in the water. It was dressed and deep-fried as the main course for our supper. The next day I was cleared to wade the river and fish in the potholes as a 13-year-old. My day was not spent without interruptions, however. Thanks to the slippery rocks. I disappeared under water several times, losing two fish on a stringer, two cans of bait and a sun hat. Nevertheless, the fun and laughs I had were worth far more than the disappointments.

 

Clif Knight is a staff writer for the Hartselle Enquirer.

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