Category Archives: Fishing Ramblings – My Fishing Blog

Random thoughts and musings about fishing

Living In A Small Town

   Traveling around Georgia and Alabama doing research for my Georgia and Alabama Outdoor News Map of the Month articles I visit many small towns that remind me of growing up in Dearing, Georgia.  Small towns have a charm and feeling unique to them, and I often miss them.

    Each season holds special memories.  Halloween was special in the fall each year.  Everything from trick or treating on our bicycles to going to the Halloween Festival at Dearing Elementary School heightened the excitement of the season.

    We prepared our costumes for days, although they were always homemade and simple.  You could not go to the local dollar store and get one store bought and detailed.  I wore everything from mama’s carefully sewed clown costume to an old sheet with holes for eyes.

    My favorite for several years was my hobo costume.  I’m sure it would be politically incorrect now, but people were much saner back then. We did not take offense at everything that might trigger us.

    My hobo costume was old clothes that were ragged and patched, really just some of my oldest daily clothes I wore around the farm.  I wore one of daddy’s old caps and had a corn cob pipe I made with a corn cob and section of creek cane.  Sometimes I stuffed it with rabbit tobacco and even lite it – after getting well away from my house and mama and daddy’s watchful eyes.

    A mustache and beard, made with smut from a fire painted my face. And I had to have a stick with a colorful scarf bag hanging on it to put over my shoulder.

    There was no fear of the goodies we got from neighbors all over town.  Again, folks were sane back then and we all knew each other. There was no worry about foreign objects in the treats we got.

    Home made candy was the norm.  We knew which house would have candied apples, dipped with care and individually wrapped in wax paper. And where to go for fudge squares, some with a pecan half embedded on top.   
    Store bought candy was a special treat and rare. But some houses were known for dropping a Baby Ruth, Snickers or Milky Way into your bag and those houses were sought out every year.

    I do not remember “tricking” anyone on our excursions.  There was no need, each house in town had a welcoming porch light on, and a few even had some decorations, maybe a carved pumpkin or corn stalk bundle, sitting near the door.

    Daddy was principal of Dearing Elementary and teachers and students worked for days getting ready for the festival.  Each classroom was turned into a different game or challenge, but they were simple. 

    One classroom would be the “fishing hole” where the bottom half the door was covered with decorated cardboard to block it. On the floor or a small table were hand carved wooden fish with rings in their backs.  A short cane pole with q wire hook at the end of the line was used to catch a fish.  It was harder than it sounds, but when you landed one you were rewarded with a candy treat supplied by the PTA.

    Another classroom would be the haunted house, with cardboard corridors inside to lead you through gross and scary scenes.  There might be a table with a pig or cow brain in a pan, a turn where you ran into hanging “spider webs” of sewing thread, or a cardboard skeleton that would suddenly swing in front of you, controlled by a laughing teacher.

    And there was always a hidden cubby hole where a teacher dressed in a scary costume would jump out at you, to the screams of the younger kids and the laughs of older kids and the witch or goblin.

    There were skill contest, too.  One vivid memory is of a nail driving contest, where you got a reward based on the number of blows it took to drive a 16-penny nail to its head in a 2X4.  Daddy was beside me the year I wore a bulky clown costume mama had made for me. When I had trouble hitting the nail squarely, daddy said I was good with a hammer, but the costume hindered my swing. 
I hated the disappointment in his voice that I had not done a better job.

    Of course, the best part of fall for me was the opening of squirrel and bird seasons.  Daddy was also the agriculture teacher when Dearing had a high school and taught shop to eighth graders after the high school grades were moved to Thomson.  He visited local farmers to help them with his experience from his work and degree from UGA, doing everything from “cutting” male pigs when they reached the right age to helping with calf births.

    He was invited to dove shoots almost every Saturday and I got to go with him, at first acting as his retriever then being allowed to carry my .410 when he was sure I had learned field safety and etiquette.  And after dove season we spent every Saturday following our pointers, looking for quail

    But squirrels were my first love, from the time I grabbed my .22 and got Gladys, our maid and farm worker, to her great concern, to follow me across Iron Hill Road to shoot my first squirrel.  I was eight years old and had seen it out the window but knew I could not take a gun out without an adult with me, so I somehow talked her into going with me.

    After that I spent thousands of happy hours in the woods, mostly by myself, and killed hundreds of squirrels over the next ten years until I went off to college. And we ate every one of them.

    Every season had special memories. I wish kids today could experience, and be thrilled by, those simpler times.

Outdoors Folks Fighting With Ourselves

 Pogo famously said “We have met the enemy and he is us.” All too often hunters and gun owners are our own worst enemy. Going all the way back to Aesop and his fables, the statement “United we stand, divided we fall,” applies to us and our rights.

    I am constantly amazed at the infighting among groups that have similar goals and beliefs.  Hunters look down and condemn other hunters for not holding the same ideals as they do.  Gun owners think their guns are going to be safe and support banning the kinds they don’t use.

    One of the worst examples was a recent article/news story in Georgia Outdoor News magazine.  When some Georgia deer hunters went to their deer camp this year, they found a nest of rattlesnakes ten feet from their bunkhouse in the middle of camp.  They killed them.

    Other hunters, and many tree huggers, condemned them for killing the snakes.  Even other hunters called them names and hated on them. Not only did they give nonhunters a bad image of hunters, they caused hard feelings among groups that should support ourselves.

    Get real.  I have never enjoyed killing just for the fun of killing.  I do not kill snakes when
I see them in the wild. Nonpoisonous snakes in my yard are left alone.  But I recently killed a copperhead
I uncovered when moving some tin. I would not leave it to bite me or my dogs.

    There has long been a “war” between bow and gun hunters.  Gun hunters do not like bow hunters having an early season just for them, and bow hunters say the activity of gun hunters make getting close to deer more difficult for them.

    When cross bows were first legalized, traditional bow hunters hated anyone using a cross bow. They are right that it takes a lot more skill to kill a deer with a traditional bow, but why condemn those that use crossbows?  It gets more folks in the woods to find the joy of the outdoors and hunting, and we should support each other.

    The same thing happened when compound bows first came on the market.  Recurve bow hunters condemned them. They are easier to use and more accurate, so folks using them were not really bow hunters. 

    If you don’t want to use a crossbow or compound bow, fine, but do not condemn fellow hunters if they do.  Many of us are too old to pull back and hold a compound bow, much less a traditional recurve bow, but we can get in the woods and enjoy hunting with a crossbow.  The same applies to young hunters and those with disabilities that prevent use of a traditional bow.

    Georgia legalized baiting for deer last year, based on the desires of the majority of hunters attending hearings on it. I don’t like baiting, there are many problems with it, from spreading disease to making it easier for predators other than us to kill deer. And baiting removes the need to learn hunting skills.  You can shoot deer over bait, but you are not really hunting.

    Since baiting is legal, many will do it, including me. But I am not really a deer hunter, I just want to harvest a few does for my freezer.  And I can not shoot a rifle due to a port in my right shoulder, but I can get close enough to does on bait to harvest some with my crossbow.

    If you don’t like baiting, don’t bait. But don’t condemn others for using legal methods.

    Trophy hunting is similar.  I will get condemned if I shoot a small buck, even though it is legal.  I have seen folks whine about a young hunter killing their first deer when it was a small buck. They want it to grow bigger, hoping to kill it themselves when it reaches trophy size, I guess.

    Bass fishermen are just as bad. The catch and release of bass has helped bass populations, but too many fishermen have adopted it almost as a religion, even when removing small bass may help a lake.  There is nothing wrong with keeping a few bass to eat, especially in cases of spotted bass where this invasive species has hurt the lake.

    There is a movement to ban and confiscate ugly guns that many don’t like.  The AR-15 shoots a legal bullet for deer hunting, and millions use them for a variety of reasons. But too many hunters that don’t use them for hunting see no reason to not ban and confiscate them.  When the gun banners realize many bolt action and lever action rifles shoot bigger, more powerful bullets, you can bet they will come after them, calling them sniper rifles.

    Its similar for shotguns.  A semiautomatic shotgun is the choice of many hunters, and a ban on semiautomatic guns would include them. Should hunters that use double barrel shotguns be ok with the ban?

    Its easy to accept things that don’t affect you, until they do.

    Too many people have lost touch with nature. 
They live in cities and suburbs where they seldom contact nature, even if they go hunting a few times a year. They are happy in their own little world and see no problem condemning those that don’t hold their views.

    Our whole society seems to have gone this way.
A big part of this is social media.  It is far too common to sit safely behind a computer and rant and rave about your favorite prejudice, from hunting and fishing to politics and religion, without ever considering the other side.

    And you are likely to never even hear the other side.  The echo chamber of Facebook and Twitter assure you will hear and be heard only by those with the same prejudices.

    Consider those with differing views and maybe, just maybe, they will consider your views.  You may be surprised both sides have legitimate concerns.

Young Climate Change Activists

Last week I watched with sad amusement the kids protesting “climate change.”  I wonder how many of them live in cities where their only contact with the natural world is walking by a park surrounded by buildings.

    Country kids and adults are in contact with the real, natural world and see weather changing constantly. We see cycles in the weather and have all our lives.  But climate change true believers insist if they don’t spent huge amounts of our money to do “something” about the weather  we are all gonna die soon.

    The funniest thing I saw was a reporter interviewing some young, gullible activists.  He asked them what they, personally, would give up to protect the climate.  Their cell phones, expensive clothes, air conditioning, travel and other things? 

    The confused look and sputtering answers were priceless. They want others to give up things, never themselves.

Have You Ever Been To A Turkey Shoot?

Have you ever been to a turkey shoot? I remember attending them with my dad when I was a kid. We would drive to a field where paper targets with a big “X” on them were hung on a wire and a shooting line established away from the targets. Hay bales often offered backstops and places to sit near the firing line.

Each shooter put a dollar in a hat and got to fire one shell at his target. The one with a shot hitting closest to the center of the “X” won a turkey. There were often side bets between the men on who would win each round.

I will never forget one shoot. On one shot, the wad managed to hit the target, leaving a big hole near the “X” was vislible from the shooting line. There were quite a few bets that would win, but when the targets were checked, one tiny hole was right on the “X” and won.

Turkey shoots are still held, usually as a fun raiser. Check around for one and see if you can win a turkey!

Jam Up and Jelly Tight, But What About Preserves?

Do you know the difference between jelly, jam and preserves? Growing up on a farm, I watched mama make all three. We ate apple jelly, muscadine and blackberry jam and fig preserves all year long.

Jelly is translucent, made from fruit juice with no pulp or skin in it. Jam has fruit pulp or crushed fruit in it. Preserves have chunks or whole fruit in it. All three take a lot of hard work. I’m not sure why she made the different types from different fruits, but they sure were good.

My role was to go to the woods to gather muscadines and blackberries when ripe, pick figs from our huge fig bush and go to a neighbor’s house where he allowed us to get all the apples we wanted from his trees.

My favorite were the fig preserves. The whole figs, in heavy, super sweet syrup, were great on toast or mama’s homemade biscuits for breakfast. And I sometimes just ate the figs straight from the jar for a snack.

I haven’t seen fig preserves for years but found a jar of fig preserves in a store recently. It was good, and the taste brought back good memories, but it could not compare to mama’s cooking.

Something else I can’t find is pickled pears.
Mama put up lots of pickles but the tart, sweet pear pickles were great. Its odd I have never seen them in stores since they were a staple of all family and church potluck dinners.

Pickled peaches she made were also a staple. I have found them in stores, and they are good, but they lack something in my memories. Both pears and peaches were picked on neighbors’ trees until daddy planted some of each.

Mama made sweet cucumber pickles, and I have never had any as good as hers. The bread and butter pickles in stores are similar, but hers were sweeter and tarter, and the slices of pickled cucumber were very dark, almost black. I hated picking the cucumbers since the vines made me itch.

I had my first pickled okra just a few years ago, mama never made them. That surprises me since the pickled okra is great, and we grew lots of okra for soups and other dishes. She never made dill pickle, either, that I remember. Maybe daddy didn’t like the dill taste of both.

Mama could take anything and make a good dish from it. When I was 15 years old, Bobby Fox, a young single man was hired to teach at daddy’s school. He boarded with us and became almost like an older brother. He told mama his mama in North Carolina made persimmon pudding, much like the bread pudding mama often made.

Her bread pudding was fantastic, and she adapted her recipe to make the persimmon pudding. In the late fall, when the persimmons turned dark orange, we would gather a bunch of them and mama mashed them up, removed the seeds and made the pudding. It was very good.

String beans were a staple of summer, but mama put up dozens of quarts of canned string beans, we ate at least a jar a week all winter. That involved lots of work, too. I didn’t mind picking them too much but hated the tedious task of stringing and snapping them. Shelling peas and butterbeans, which were blanched and frozen, and stringing beans occupied most summer nights, sitting in front of the TV, watching one of the two channels available, and wanting to be outside!

When I was 12 we built mama’s dream house, a split level brick house that sat right where the old wooden farm house sat. We tore down the front half of the house to make room for the new one and lived for a few months in the bedrooms and small kitchen and bath that were on the back of the old house.

One feature mama wanted and got was a huge pantry under the carport. The shelves were lined with jars of pickles, jams, jellies, preserves and string beans. I know it gave mama and daddy a comfortable, fulfilled feeling to have a store of food for the winter, something common back then.

We ate a lot of fresh stuff, too, especially when out in the woods and fields. Some of it probably should have been left along, but then, like now, I will try eating just about anything.

I learned fast that yellow persimmons would “turn your mouth inside out,” by trying them. They were great when fully ripe, and I liked the ones that had already fallen to the ground. There was always a little dirt stuck to them but it was worth the grinding for the taste.

I ate lots of snake berries, too. The tiny wild strawberries were everywhere, and rumor had it that they were poison, but if so I must be immune. One thing I never tried were poke berries. The dark purple berries looked good enough to eat, but I was convinced they were poison, as well as knowing they stained everything they touched.

I enjoyed sucking the nectar out of honeysuckle, and often wished there was some way to make jelly from it. Daddy showed me a mulberry bush on our fence row when I was in my late teens, and they were great. For some reason, although I walked by it hundreds of times, I never noticed it growing up.

Some things I tried were not good. As much as squirrels loved acorns, they had to be good, right? Not to me! We tried them raw, boiled in an old tin can over a campfire and roasted on campfires, but never could eat them.

I miss those adventures but miss mama and her cooking even more.

Climbing Trees

Climbing trees in my youth was as natural as it must be for young monkeys. Every tree offered an opportunity, and a challenge. Some, with low limbs were easy. Other required skill in “shinnying” up the trunk with arms and legs wrapped around it to the first branches.

All that climbing was not without danger. I will never forget a naturalist on an Alaskan cruise asking us, as we watched mountain goats on impossibly steep cliffs, if we knew the main cause of death for them. The answer? Gravity.

Gravity offered dangers but fun, too. I got a too close look at the danger one day while climbing a big sweetgum that acted as a corner fence post on our hog pen. I was about 15 feet up when, reaching for a limb, I missed my hold and fell backwards.

Landing on my back, it took me a few seconds to figure out I was not hurt. Then I looked up. I was lying within inches of a vertical 2×6 that helped support the fence. The upper end that my back barely missed was jagged and pointed. A little more to that side and I would have been skewered.

We had fun with gravity, too. Many times, two or three of us would go to the woods with our hatchets, pick a sapling 20 or so feet tall, and one of us would climb near the top. The others would hack away at the base until the tree fell.

Riding the tree down was an early carnival ride for us. We always tried to stay on the upper side so the tree hit the ground first, but that was hard to do since our weight turned it so we fell first. Somehow, we never got hurt doing this. I guess the tree limbs cushioned our impact.

We climbed to make tree houses, attaching ropes to pull up boards, hammers and nails. On a good tree we used limbs to reach the tree house after it was built, on others we nailed short boards to the trunk to use as steps. Ladders were just too easy, and they were hard to come by.

When I started deer hunting I bought a small metal platform with a chain that went around the tree trunk and an arm that went down to brace it against the trunk. I spent many hours standing or sitting on that 16-inch square of metal many feet off the ground.

Just like for tree houses, some trees gave me limbs to climb to where I wanted to attach my stand. On some, like straight trunk pines, I nailed boards for steps. Its a miracle I never fell from it since I used no safety rope.

When I was 16, our youth leader at church, Mr. Ed
Henderson, who also managed the McDuffie Public Fishing Area and loved to hunt, saw a new-fangled deer stand in a magazine and copied it. He made them for many of us and I still have mine.

It was a board with iron bars that supported the bottom and went up at the back. Angled arms attached to the front of the bottom bar and went past the back, where angled flat iron made a “V”. The back of the board had metal strips across it in an inverted, matching “V”.

You could take a bolt out of one side of the arm, put it around a tree and reattach the bolt. The downward pressure on the board while standing or sitting on it clamped it against the tree. You slipped your boots into straps on the platform, reached up and hugged the tree trunk, bent your knees up to pull up the stand, then repeated.

It was easy to climb a pine or other straight trunk tree, in my youth. This was the beginning of modern climbing stands that work on the same principal but have two parts, one to raise up then move the bottom part with your feet. You can even do a sit down, stand up, sit down, over and over to climb in some of them.

They are much easier to use, a good thing since I no longer have the arm or leg strength of my youth and cannot hug the tree or raise the bottom of the old, heavy stand with my legs.

The older guys I worked in construction with the summer between high school and college, did not believe my tales about the stand. So, I took it to work with me one day to show them. Unfortunately, the only thing to climb in the lumber yard was a telephone pole. I easily went up it about 15 feet, amazing them and proving my tales.

Unfortunately, the telephone pole was hard, without the soft bark of a tree for the stand to bite into. When at the top of my climb, the stand suddenly lost its bite and I slid to the ground, skinning my arms and legs and ripping my shirt.

But that same day, they all started making their own copies of the stand!

The first deer I killed when I was 18 in the fall of 1968 was from that stand. I got so excited after shooting the small eight-point buck that I got in a hurry. I vaguely remember jumping the last few feet to the ground to go check the deer.

When I confirmed the deer was dead and went back to get my stand, I could barely reach the bottom of it with the tip of my gun barrel to make it slide the rest of the way down to the ground. I had jumped from at least 10 feet high!

I doubt many youth still climb trees, its too dangerous for most parents to allow it. But they are missing fun, too.

Building Huts, Tree Houses and Forts

Building huts, tree houses and forts were always a big part of summer. By mid-August, we had built more than we could use but still continued to build them.
Building them was the biggest part of the fun.

I always wanted to build a log cabin, as did my friends Harold and Hal, but our hatchets were never up to cutting down trees and notching them. So, we made do with what we could handle.

We found four small trees growing in some-what of a square on a hillside overlooking Dearing Branch. They would be the corner post of our cabin. We cut sweetgum saplings the right length for the walls. Since we couldn’t notch them and stack them like a real log cabin, we tried lashing them to the corner post but quickly gave up and used nails.

When the walls were about three feet high, about half done, we realized we had not made plans for a door. So, we made another post five feet high, cut the wall poles shorter in one corner and made our door there. Harold ended up graduating from UGA with a degree in architecture so maybe that influenced him.

When it came time for the roof, we thought we could make a thatched roof with the branches from the sweetgums we cut. Wrong. The leaves are nothing like the palm fronds used for real thatched roofs we read about and they quickly dried out, making the rain come through like nothing was there. Even when green it slowed the water down very little.

We found an old army surpluse tarp that didn’t leak much and used it for our roof. But we didn’t spend much time in it, the gaps in the wall “logs” let mosquitoes in. But it was fun building it.

A better hut was one we built of lumber. Harold’s family owned a sawmill and lumber yard, so he had access to lots of wood. We made prefab walls and a roof from 2x4s and 1x6s and laboriously lugged them to the woods under our biggest tree house in a big pine tree. We dug holes for the 2×4 post and nailed the three walls and roof together. It was to serve as our supply hut for the tree house.

We were afraid to sleep in that tree house. Although we put side boards around the platform, it was just too high. So we camped under the tree in our army surplus pup tent and sleeping bags and kept our stores in the hut.

Putting out a sleeping was always fun. No matter how hard we tried, we could never get all the sticks and rocks cleaned up that would dig into us and make us miserable all night.

The old tent leaked a little. I will never forget one morning after it rained most of the night. We managed to get a fire started at the mouth of the hut with wood we kept dry in it and cooked breakfast. Taking our tin mess kit plates back into the tent to eat our perfectly burned eggs, bacon and toast there,
I set my plate down on the floor. It floated in a puddle of water. I could spin it and it would spin several times before stopping.
But breakfast was good!

We built tree house all over the place, but my favorite was in my front yard. A pecan tree just a few feet from Iron Hill Road had two somewhat parallel, somewhat level, limbs coming off the trunk. I built a simple platform about five feet square on those limbs.

During the summer, I spent many hours sitting or lying on that platform, watching the occasional car go by. I watched as that road it changed from dirt to tar and gravel and finally asphalt over a ten-year period.

I loved reading and often took a library book up in the tree with me, getting lost in adventures all over the real and imagined world. And many of them were science fiction, taking me off our planet completely.

Outdoor magazines were read there, too. I had a subscription to Outdoor Life, Sports Afield and Field and Stream as far back as I can remember. I read and dreamed about hunting, fishing and survival adventures like the folks in them.

Although I knew I would never be able to build one in middle Georgia, I wanted to try my hand at igloos and snow caves. I wondered if I could survive the cold and attacks by polar bears while eating bear, seal and caribou meat.

Tree houses and huts were good places to dream and scheme. Some of those dreams, like salmon fishing in Alaska, came true for me. Many did not. But just the dreams were invaluable.

Lazy Days of Summer Pass Too Fast

Back in the 1950 and 60s we got out of school on Memorial Day and started back after Labor Day. The first of August always panicked us kids, knowing summer vacation was running out and there was much left to do.

There were trees not yet climbed, creeks to dam, camping trips that had not yet taken place and fishing holes not hit. Trees identified for future treehouse construction remained bare and rock piles needed to be converted to forts. We knew time was running out and tried our best to do everything we wanted to do.

There were about six ponds within range of me on my bicycle that I had permission to fish. I have good memories from all of them.

The closest was about 100 yards from our back fence on Rogers Dairy. It was small, really just a watering hole for the cows, and we often fished one area while cows waded others. We caught nothing but small bream there but it was fun playing with them.

Two more very close ones were side by side on some land owned by Dr. McGahee, our family doctor. His office was in Augusta but had a house and land near us and made home visits when we were sick. I remember him with his traditional black bag, checking me out when I felt bad.

His two ponds were well stocked and there was a shelter with picnic tables near it. Our church groups often had picnics there and at one, while I was fishing, a head slowly appeared near my cork from the murky water.

We jumped back, sure it was a snake, but after we went back to fishing, I hooked a big snapping turtle. That was the first turtle, but not the last, I caught. I remember how it clawed at the hook in its mouth when I managed to drag it out on the bank, finally breaking my line and returning to the water.

Those ponds were the favorite of my mother and grandmother. We often walked to them, me carrying my short cane pole while mama or grandmama carried a longer one and the five-gallon lard can with all our supplies, from corks and hooks to containers of earthworms and meal worms. We ate a lot of bream and cats from those ponds.

My first-grade teacher, Mrs. Black, lived on a farm about three miles from my house. The two ponds on it were my favorites. The lower one was smaller, and cows watered in it. There was on stump in the upper end and some bushes that hung over the water on one side where I often caught bass.

To fish the brushy bank we waded around the edges in jeans and tennis shoes, often up to our necks in water. There was some kind of water weed in the pond and we pushed through mats of it. In the middle a small channel dropped about two feet deeper.

Although I didn’t understand about thermoclines, my feet taught me water a few feet deep was often cooler than that above it. And the water in the ditch was always cool from the spring feeding it. Again, I did not understand why, but in the hot summer it seemed I caught more bass along the edge of the ditch than anywhere else in the pond.

The upper pond was harder to fish since it was lined with bushes and the bottom dropped off fast. There were gaps where we could get to the water and cast, but that limited our fishing.

The upper end of the pond was filled with stumps and brush so it was hard to wade, too. But it was full of fish, making it worth the effort. My favorite memory of that pond is the day Hal and I had taken a container of crickets left over from a trip with one of my uncles and rode our bikes out there.

The bream were bedding around the stumps in the upper end and we stood in one place and hooked a fat bluegill on every cast. They were bigger than what we usually caught and we took about 50 home. Cleaning them is not a favorite memory, but that was part of every successful trip.

Harrison’s Pond was about five miles away, about the limit of my bicycle travels. But I loved it. Very secluded back in the woods, there was a small cabin there, and as was usual back then, it was never locked. We would take a coke with us and put it in for a cold drink on hot days, and there was ice in the freezer compartment.

We caught a lot of bass there. One stands out in my memory, not because of size, it was only about two pounds, but because of the way it hit. A stump a long cast from the bank had a small bush on it. One cast hung my Hula Popper on a limb.

As I pulled to try to free it, it bent down to the water and the bass hit it. When I pulled the bass would come out of the water then go back down as I let my line go slack. It finally came loose from the bush and I landed it.

Usury’ Pond was too far for my bicycle, but mom and I went there when she had time to drive us there and fish, and I caught my first bass there. And my uncles took me sometimes. It was full of stumps and logs, and big bass.

I hooked and lost several big fish that wrapped me up on the wood cover and broke my line. But one did not get away. I could see it flash as it fought against my line around the log in about six feet of water, so I did the sensible thing. I took off my shoes and shirt and swam down to it and grabbed it. It was only about three pounds, but I was proud I was able to land it.

Ponds make great memories. I hope kids have some to fish.

Big Bass Create Memories

Over the past 60 years, I have caught a good many bass. All were fun, but a few really stand out in my memory, usually the bigger ones.

The first bass I caught was not big. It was probably about ten inches long, but when my cork disappeared in the pool of water below the Usury’s Pond Dam, I expected another small bream or catfish. But this fish did not pull down and make little circles, it ran sideways and jumped out of the water.

Although that was about 60 years ago, I will never forget it, and it hooked me for life.

Bigger bass stand out, too. My first big bass was a 7.5 pounder that hit a Devil’s Horse when I was 12 years old. Harold, Hal, Billy and I were trying to fish from an old wooden run-about at Clarks Hill. We had pulled a jon boat to a cove in Hart Creek where our fathers took it back in the end to throw Hula Poppers. They told us boys to stay well away from them so we would not spook the bass they wanted to catch.

We paddled that old boat best we could, keeping it a long cast off the bank. I fired my Devil’s Horse toward a button bush on the point but the cast with my Mitchell 300 reel and Garcia rod went way wide .

Reeling the plug back as fast as I could turn the reel handle, the plug churned and skittered across the surface. Suddenly the water exploded in a vicious strike. Somehow, we managed to land that big bass.

We thought the bass was crazy. Everyone knew bass hit only slow-moving baits. If I had been smarter, maybe I could have invented the buzzbait in 1962!

Another bass, not quite as big, hit a floating Rebel minnow by a button bush at Clarks Hill in Germany Creek. My family was camping at “The Cliffs” and daddy had agreed to paddle me around in that same old wooden boat while I cast. He did not care much for fishing but took the time with me.

I cast the floating minnow near a button bush and, as soon as I twitched it a little, a bass hit it, but did not get hooked. I let the lure sit then twitched it a little and a 5.5 pound largemouth churned the water as it hit again.

The fish was a good one, but what stands out in my mind is daddy bragging how I did not get too excited and jerk the bait away. He told everyone how I just let it sit then twitched it. That made me proud.

The first eight-pound bass I caught hit a chrome Wiggle Wart during a 1978 January Sportsman Club tournament at Jackson. Bob Pierce and I were fishing from his boat and had not had a bite all day. With just a couple of hours left to fish, we were fishing near Kersey’s where we would weigh in.

I cast the plug to a sandbar and as I cranked it along, it just stopped. Suddenly a huge bass jumped. After a scary fight, Bob netted it. We were both trembling with excitement. After I put the fish in the livewell, I stood on the lid the rest of the day. I was afraid it would jump out.

That bass won me first place and was big fish.

I caught my second eight pounder in a 1978 January Flint River club tournament at Jackson. Cecil Davis and I had fished most of the cold, windy day without a bite. Around noon we were on a big, flat point at the dam.

For some reason, I decided to tie on a heavy spinnerbait and let the wind blow the boat across the point. The spinnerbait bumped along the bottom as we moved. Then it took off toward deeper water, bending my rod double. After a few seconds fight, I told Cecil it had to be a striper.

When I got the fish near the boat, I worried the striper would take off and break my line since I had the drag tightened down as far as it would go. When I tried to loosen it just a little, I moved the star drag too much. The fish made a run and I got a huge bird’s nest in my reel and could not turn the handle. Then the fish came near the surface and we saw it was a big bass.

In my panic, I grabbed the line and pulled it in hand over hand. Cecil netted it and we both yelled and jumped in excitement. That bass was just meant to be caught.

That eight-pound, four ounce bass was the third biggest that day. Frank Crowder weighed in an eight-pound, seven once bass and an eight-pound, twelve ounce bass!

I was really proud of my first nine pounder. It hit a Texas rigged worm by a brush pile I had put on a little rock ledge in eight feet of water in Germany Creek at Clarks Hill. That June afternoon I was by myself but managed to land it.

Just having to show it off, and see how big it was, I put it in the livewell and ran to Raysville Marina. On their scales it weighed exactly nine pounds.

My biggest bass ever, a nine-pound seven ounce largemouth, hit a Suddeth Boss Hog crankbait in a 1991 February Flint River tournament at Jackson. Larry Stubbs and I were fishing near the dam when it hit.

I got the fish near the boat and Larry netted it after a few tries. I was scared it would pull off, I could see the crankbait barely hooked in the corner of its mouth. I just knew it would pull free.

There have been other bass over the years, but these really stand out in my memory

Fake News from CBS and 60 Minutes – Guns of Autumn

The below was part of my Griffin Daily News column in 2004 about their lying report on President George W. Bush during the election – the one Dan Rather lied about constantly. They have just gotten worse and worse, but my wake up call was a BS hit job on hunters called Guns of Autumn back in 1975. I have not believed anything on news shows since then.

I have watched the news about CBS and the fake documents they ran on 60 minutes with interest. I lost all trust in CBS and 60 Minutes back in 1975 when they ran a segment called “The Guns Of Autumn.” I had not been out of college very long way back then and still believed in the accuracy and fairness of the national media, but that show put an end to my trust.

That show was nothing but a hatchet job on hunters. It showed some slob hunters and emphasized everything negative on hunting they could dig up. Since I knew most hunters were not like they portrayed us, and I knew they were not being fair to hunters, I started questioning everything I saw. If they would be that inaccurate and unfair about something I knew a lot about, I suspected they would do the same thing on other topics.

I have refused to watch CBS news and 60 minutes since that day 29 years ago this month. The current mess at that network does not surprise me at all.