Fishing on the river

“Gone fishing” didn’t have the same appeal to our father as it did to his sons.  

First and foremost, his attention was focused on getting the farm work done in a timely manner. He thought it was a waste of time to drop everything in the middle of growing a crop and go fishing. Therefore, our hope of getting a few hours time off to dig a can of bait, grab our cane poles and head off to Fox Creek, a half mile away, rested on a major rain event or getting caught up with the field work.

My brothers and me had multiple opportunities to go fishing on the Tallapoosa River, thanks to invitations extended by Brown Perry, an uncle on my mother’s side of the family. He, too, was a farmer but was always on the lookout for a reason to go fishing. He also had two sons who were a year older than my younger brother, Billy and me.

Our prayers to get permission to join them for a Labor Day camping and fishing trip were answered in 1959 when I was 14 years old. We stepped up our efforts to eliminate grass and weeds from the row crops and reached our goal with the cooperation of good weather.

We would fish the potholes in the shoals above Lake Martin on a Friday, camp overnight and return home on Saturday.

We went to work immediately digging for wrigglers and seining for rock bass and minnows, the bait of choice for yellow catfish.

The excitement rubbed off on our father, and he decided to join us on the trip.

Us boys were transported in the bed of a pickup truck, over a rutted dirt road, holding down an armful of cane poles, a peck bucket of worms, two 10-gallon cans of minnows and a bundle of quilts, cooking utensils and other provisions.

We were fortunate to have a primitive campsite all to ourselves. Leaving the adults behind to make camp, us boys grabbed poles and bait and hit the river running, jumping from one boulder to another in pursuit of deep potholes.

We hadn’t been fishing five minutes when Uncle Brown hollered to us from shore.

“Ermon (my father) just pulled in a 10-pound catfish while fishing from the bank,” he said. “We’ll have fried fish for supper.”

Then Danny (my cousin) slipped from the rock he was fishing on and disappeared under the muddy water.

“It’s deep,” he said. “Let’s go swimming. We can fish later.”

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