Category Archives: Fishing Ramblings – My Fishing Blog

Random thoughts and musings about fishing

Growing Up Wild On Dearing Branch

    Dearing Branch was one of the great joys of my youth.  From the fence on the north side of our farm where it entered to the pipe under Iron Hill Road where it left our property, it ran about three quarters of mile.

    I explored, played, hunted and fished the branch on our neighbor’s property on either side, too, but the section on our farm was my special heaven.  I knew every foot of it, from the shallow sandy area where we built a swimming hole to the deep cut bank with an overhanging stump where I caught bream.

    Near the north fence line, the ground was sandy and the branch wide and shallow. It narrowed to go between two trees, a perfect place for a dam. And we dammed it every summer, filling croker sacks with sand dug from the bottom and placed between the two trees and on either side of them. 

    By digging out a lot of sand and making a good dam, we created a swimming hole about chest deep on a ten-year-old.  We skinny dipped there on hot summer days, then stood around on the bank in the sun until we dried enough to put on our clothes. Shoes were not problem; we never wore them in the summer.

    The swimming hole lasted until the first good thunderstorm, when rushing water washed away our best efforts. One summer we got the bright idea that an old crosstie placed in front of the trees, then filled in with sandbags, would stop it from washing away.

    Three boys never labored as hard to do anything as we did dragging that crosstie a few hundred yards. Those things are heavy.  And it worked great, for a short time. Even though they are very heavy, we found out rushing water can turn a crosstie sideways and wash away the sandbags.

    I fished for many hours on the branch. I read outdoor magazines, and thought I could tie flies to catch branch fish like the folks I read about tied them to catch stream trout.

    My flies were tied on small bream hooks with mama’s sewing thread. I used chicken feathers, we had plenty.  But my creations looked nothing like what was in the magazine. They were way too big, bulky and a wadded mess.

    But when tied to a short length of fishing line on a stick from the branch bank, and dabbled on top of the water just right, a bream or what I called horny heads would hit them.  The horny heads were long and skinny, and had knots on their heads.

    When I say long, I mean three inches long. And bream were about the same size.  We knew there were small mud cats in the branch, we caught them by hand during dry summers when the branch dried up except for a few deep holes. Every fish in the area went to those holes, where they quickly used up so much oxygen the fish would swim on top and we could scoop them up.

    I hunted squirrels and rabbits up and down the branch, and one time jumped a duck.  I spent many hours the next few years trying to find another one without any success. I also hunted snipe and killed a couple. Yes, there really are such a bird and they are related to their northern cousins the woodcock.

    One winter the pool right at the Iron Hill Road pipe froze over, and I “ice skated” on its ten foot by ten-foot surface until I broke though.  Luckily, the water was only two feet deep, but my feet in my boots were freezing by the time I ran back to the house!

    Branches create great memories.

Shooting Birds and Picking Cotton To Earn Money

    A question popular on “Fazebook” got me thinking about earning money growing up. A couple of weeks ago I started seeing the question “Have you ever picked cotton?” often.

    Yes, I have – one time when I was about 12 years old.  A friend’s family had a big farm and grew cotton.  One weekend while visiting we decided to earn some money by helping pick cotton.  We got our long bags and went out into the hot field early in the morning.

    I admit we played as much as we picked.  And we quit at noon, going in for lunch and deciding that was not a fun way to earn money. I don’t remember how much was paid for picking cotton, I think it was about 25 cents per hundred pounds. If I remember right, I earned a whole dime that half day I “worked.”

    A money earning “job” I had that I really enjoyed for years would probably make bird watchers and animal rights fanatics go crazy now. It was protecting our pecan trees. 

We had five big pecan trees and not only sold the nuts for a little extra farm income; we shelled and ate fresh nuts every way from raw to parched to pies and on cakes. And we froze many pounds for use until the next crop.

    Blue jays and crows liked pecans as much as we did and could eat enough each day to hurt our harvest.  From the time I got my first BB gun at six years old until I went off to college, daddy paid me a dime for every blue jay and a quarter for every crow I could kill.

    Blue jays were fairly easy to kill and on a good Saturday I often earned a dollar.  Crows were not easy.  I would get up at dawn and sit in a bush near one of the pecan trees with my .410, only to miss the crow as it flew off.  They always saw me raise my gun no matter how careful and slowly I tried to sight in on them sitting on a limb. I can remember killing only three in all the years I tried!

    I could get my bounty year-round, and my standard fee for blowing up a nest with eggs was 50 cents since five eggs were average. After killing the adult near the nest, there was no way to count the eggs after shooting up the nest. If there were baby birds in it, I could usually find and count them. I realized later in life daddy trusted me completely to tell him the truth about how many I killed, a small thing but I am sure it helped me realized the importance of being honest.

    While leaves were on the trees blue jays were harder to see and shoot, but I got pretty good at it.  With bare limbs, it was easy to spot the patch of blue but much harder to get close enough for a shot.  They could see me as well as I could see them.

    I wonder if kids have fun ways to earn money now?

July 4th At Clarks Hill

 July 4th always revolved around Clarks Hill, skiing, fishing and eating with family and friends.  Daddy joined Raysville Boat Club in 1966 when I was 16, so most things started and ended there much of my young life.   

One year in the 1990s Linda and I went over to spend a few days there with mama and daddy, and of course, I want to fish. But the lake was a madhouse during the day.  Clarks Hill is huge, 72,000 acres of water, so there should be room for everyone, but everywhere I went the water was churned by wake boats, skiers, and skidoos.   

We went down to Rousseau Creek all the way to the back of it. It got narrower but was still about 100 yards wide, but the water was only two to three feet deep.  Not a good place to ski! After getting far enough back to be in water four feet deep or less, one skidoo came whining in, turned and went back out. 

After that we did not see another boat from 11:00 AM until 3:00 PM when we headed back to the boat club.  It was so secluded we could do anything we wanted! But that’s another story!

I cast a four-inch curly tail worm on a one-sixteenths ounce Slider Head on a spinning outfit and six-pound line and caught nine keeper bass and several shorter than 12 inches.  I would cast past a stump, glide it just over the top of it, and watch the bass rush out and grab it. The water was so clear I could see every move the bass made from the strike to the boat.

When we went in, after getting back to deeper water, we had to slam through waves the whole six miles back to the boat club. A usual five-minute trip took 40!

Another trip was a bit scary.   Harold was my best friend and his family always had a big reunion at Winfield Picnic area in the mouth of Rousseau Creek. I often went to join them, taking our 17-foot Larson ski boat with a 120 HP MerCruiser motor.  It was a big, heavy boat that would run about 30 MPH on a good day, but was an amazing ski boat, the best on the water back then. 

More than once I pulled six people on skis at one time behind.  It had a lot of torque and the power to do that. I spend many happy hours behind it on a ski and got pretty good. The boat club was 15 minutes from Thomson High School and the boat stayed in the water under a boat shed, ready to get in and go skiing any time.

A group of us would often plan to head to the lake to ski after school during warm weather.  I think I taught about half my class to ski. In my annual, my senior predictions said I would grow up to be the Presidential Ski Advisor! 

Part of that was teaching so many to ski, the other part was most of my classmates figured I was too lazy to make much of myself!

One July 4th I rode down to Winfield and met Harold and his family about 9:00 AM.  There were probably 40 people there, about a dozen teenagers like me.  For three hours we would put six folks in the boat and go ski.

After a huge lunch we went back out just in time for a big thunderstorm with pouring rain to hit. We quickly put up the top and rode out the storm.  The boat had a top that came back over the cockpit and side and back flaps that enclosed the whole boat. Not a drop of rain got in, but it was hot in there. I think that was about the only time we put it up the whole time we had that boat.

After the storm, we skied until about 5:00 PM then I headed back to the boat club by myself.  Back then a trip to Winfield was an experience, taking about 30 minutes at full speed in the Larson, in mostly unknown waters.

When I came out of Rousseau Creek and hit the main lake, another thunderstorm hit.  I kept the boat at an idle, the waves were so big I would go down in a trough and lose sight of land. 

More scary, I would see stumps in those troughs, the lake is full of them, especially on the old river channel in the deepest water. They had been topped out about five feet below full pool, so the waves exposed them.

It took me more than three hours to get back and it was almost dark.  Now I can make that run in my bass boat in five minutes but would not want to try with waves like those that day.

Have a wonderful July 4th, eat good food, spend time with family, make good memories, but never forget why we celebrate starting out great nation, the best one on earth. 

Growing Up On A Farm In Rural Georgia

  I loved growing up on a farm in rural Georgia in the 1950s and 60s.  Most of my memories are of fun times exploring my world, the close-knit life of loving family and friends, and a happy life.  Others are of hard work and strict discipline that taught me to be a productive member of society.   

Hot weather always reminds me of our house without air conditioning. We had fans and open windows, and at night I often moved my fan to the foot of the bed, hung the sheet so the wind would blow under it and cool me off.    Rain showers at night bring back memories of the sound of rain hitting our tin roof, lulling me to sleep. And the cooler air was welcome, even though it was muggy. 

Daytime showers meant mud puddles to play in, from splashing through them on foot or bicycle, to floating any piece of wood that instantly became a sailboat.  

There was nothing quite as refreshing as a cold watermelon, deliciously red, sweet and juicy.  And we kept the rinds for watermelon rind preserves, placed on hot buttered toast or biscuits and gobbled down for breakfast or a snack during the day.   

We had a big butcher knife we used to cut open the watermelon and slice it into half moon pieces just right for holding and eating, with juice running down my chin.  The adults were more careful, cutting off bite size pieces with the same butcher knife or another kitchen knife.   

I was finally allowed to use the butcher knife to cut and slice the watermelon, with careful instructions, when I was about eight.  The knife was very sharp, and the wooden handle had no hand guard.   

One day, after eating my slice of watermelon down to the white rind, for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to stab it. It sat on the wooden platform in the front yard under the shade of a huge pecan tree, our usual place to enjoy them.    

When I held the knife in my right hand and stabbed straight down, the blade stopped but my hand did not.  My palm slid all the way down it. I will never forget the pain, then looking at my open palm and seeing the cut meat standing open before the flood of blood.   

Mama wrapped my hand in a towel and daddy rushed us to the emergency room.  Lying on the table, with my right hand extended and mama on my left side, I felt the sting of the needle as the doctor numbed it. Then I felt nothing.   

I kept trying to turn my head to watch as the doctor put eight stitches in, closing the cut, but mama kept my head turned toward hear, softly talking to me.  Then she stopped talking and asked why I was staring into her eyes.  It suddenly dawned on her I was watching the doctor work in the reflection in her glasses!  

 I can still see the light scar line across my palm and the tiny cross lines where the stitches closed it up over 60 years later.   

Most summer experiences were a lot more fun.  Damming Dearing Branch, building tree houses and huts in the woods, making rock forts, fishing in every bit of water from the branch on our property to nearby farm ponds to Clarks Hill on wonderful camping trips.    

All those override the memories of gathering eggs from our 11,000 laying hens and the smell of the droppings on a hot summer day, standing for hours candling and grading them and then loading cases of them into the cooler or onto the truck for delivery.

My most hated job, washing down the pen where we fattened pigs for slaughter or sale, was one of my daily chores for years. The pen was a 40 by 80 foot shed, dived into two sides by a wood fence, with a sloping concrete floor.  There were about 40 pigs on either side.

Each day I had to hook up the hose and wash all the raw pig manure down to the trough at the end of the floor where it drained into an open pond.  The stench was almost unbearable, and I felt like I stunk all night from doing it, no matter how much I scrubbed in the shower.

I would not give up those memories, good and bad, for anything!

Cooking Game and Fish

Following the Recipe!

     I love to cook, especially things I have caught, killed or grown. Mama was a fantastic cook, making big meals every day on the farm for daddy, my brother and me and three or four farm workers.  She taught me to cook like her, country farm cooking, and used to laughingly say I needed to learn to cook since I would never find a woman to cook for me.   

She was wrong in that, Linda is a great cook, but she really does not like to, so I do most of the cooking at home.  We set that routine when, in our first year of marriage, Linda taught school while I finished my last year at UGA.  She got home late and I was home early every day, much less tired than her, so I did the cooking.   

I have cooked most anything I could catch or kill over the years.  While in college I shot a raccoon and cooked it for dinner.  I thought BBQed coon was good but Linda not so much.  The same for a beaver I cooked a few years ago. I will never do that again, not because it did not taste good to me, but because it was the most difficult animal I have ever tried to skin.   

Gar taste good but are hard to clean, you start with tin snips.  Carp and shiners are ok if you like a mouth full of bones in every bite. I have at least ten ways to cook bass filets, from fried to nuked with picante sauce to baked with wine and cheese sauce, and like them all.   

I cook a lot of venison.  Each day I get recipes in email from Taste of Home magazine and try many of them.  Some are great and I cook them often, others are ok but either a lot of trouble or not a favorite. They are usually one hit wonders.   

In the past few weeks I have cooked Bobotie, a South African dish that has ground meat.  It falls into the second category in two ways, it is difficult to cook and has a flavor that is just ok. It is the sweet spices in it, tamarind and raisins, that remind me of the pigeon pie with cinnamon and raisins I had in Marrakech, Morocco.  Sweet meat is not that good to me.  

  Others in the first category include cabbage roll casserole, a simple way to make cabbage rolls if you do not like rolling the leaves.  It is a one dish meal, just add a little cornbread.  That is a great meal when camping – just heat a bowl of leftovers in the microwave.   

Asian noodle casserole is very simple, with ground meat, ramen noodles and a bag of broccoli stir fry veggies.  Another one dish meal.  Roast in the crockpot with ranch and au jus dressing is delicious and very simple.    

I use the crock pot a lot for everything from venison steak with peppers and onions or mushroom soup to venison stew meat with BBQ sauce.  It is a simple way to cook and keeps venison moist.

On fishing trips, most guys stay in motels and eat in restaurants, but I much prefer camping and grilling.  Venison is too dry to grill, so I always do chicken, steak and pork chops on the grill, and am usually done eating before the guys in the restaurant can get their order.

I never order steak when I do go out – I have not found one that taste as good as what I grill. I try to find fried scallops, my favorite, and I have never been able to cook them just right at home.

I’m hungry, I am going to cook something.

Some Bass You Catch, Some You Lose

 If you fish for bass very much, you will have many experiences landing some bass you should not and losing some you should land.  Some seem stupid, some funny and some just weird.  I had four such experiences this past weekend in two tournaments.   

Saturday at West Point in the Potato Creek tournament, I pulled up on a hump where I have caught a few bass in the past.  My first cast produced a hit and I landed a 2.52 pound spot, a good size one for West Point.   

A few casts later with the shaky head I got another bite, set the hook and fought another 2.5-pound spot half way to the boat. It jumped and threw the hook. Why did it come off when the first one did not? 

Then a few cast later, this time with a jig and pig, I hooked another 2.5-pound spot, fought it to the boat and could see it down about four feet deep. Then it just came off.  Why? I will never know.   

Sunday in the Spalding County tournament at Sinclair I was fishing down the bank with my boat about six feet out from a grass bed.  I saw a nice bass swimming along in two feet of water, headed the same way as the boat but a little faster.   

I have seen cruising bass like that many times and have never caught one of them. But I cast ahead of the bass anyway with my shaky head. The line started moving away from the bank and I set the hook and landed a 3.4 pound largemouth.   

A few minutes later I cast to a boat dock post and as my shaky head sank the line started moving under the dock. I set the hook hard enough to make the drag slip a little. I have it set that way to keep from breaking my line.  The fish felt strong as it ran under the dock but it just came off the hook.   

I kept fishing and landed my fifth fish at about 1:00 and decided to head back toward the ramp. But I stopped at the dock where I had lost the fish, cast the same bait to the same post, and as it sank it started under the dock.  This time I landed a 3.52 pounder!  I am sure it was the same fish. 

I can not remember ever going back and catching the same fish after losing it.

Docks make for some interesting experiences.  A couple of years ago I cast a Chatterbait behind a dock and my line went over the corner post. As soon as the bait hit the water a bass grabbed it.

I automatically set the hook and reeled a two pounder up out of the water. Somehow it hung there until I could get the boat close enough to get the net under it.

The same thing happened at Weiss. I cast a shaky head behind a dock and the wind blew my line over a post. When I got a bite I set the hook and reeled a three pound bass up in the air.

As I tried to get close to it, the line suddenly came off the post and the bass took off, pulling hard. I knew my line was frayed from the post but somehow the line held and I landed the fish.

One of the oddest things happened at West Point years ago. I cast a jig to a small brush top right on the bank. I felt a tap and set the hook.  The line did not move, I thought I had just hooked the brush. I pulled trying to get it free but could not.

I got close enough to the brush in the muddy water to push my jig off the limb it was hung on with my rod tip, and as I did and raised my rod tip, a two pounder was still hooked. I think I stunned it yanking it against the limb and it never fought!Sometimes you land those weird fish, sometimes you lose them.

What Are Cicadas?

You may hear a humming sound when near woods this spring and early summer.  What is often called locusts locally are actually cicadas and there are a variety of them.  Some come out of the ground and transform into adults every year, other groups emerge every five, seven, 13 and 17 years. 

   The most talked about are the “17-year locusts,” a big group that comes out every 17 years in huge numbers and are named “Brood IX.” This year as many as 1.5 million adults may emerge per acre in some areas.   

Female Cicadas lay their eggs on woody parts of trees and bushes. When the eggs hatch, the nymphs go into the ground and grow, eating plant roots. They grow for the years for their species, emerge from the ground, then climb up a tree or bush a few feet and come out of their shell, developing wings.

Males “sing” by rubbing membranes on their body making the sound we hear that attracts females.  After they mate, the cycle starts over.   

My grandfather died when I was six years old, but I vaguely remember his small farm.  A tiny field was surrounded by pine trees, and whenever I visited, I would go out there and find Cicada husks clinging to the bark and collect them.  Sometimes I found a one or two, other times dozens.   

I have found the husks around Griffin, too.  At the hunting club and on my land, if I look carefully, I can find them.  The light brown husks are hard to see on the bark but they do stick out a little to help spot them.   

A few years ago I was fishing Lake Sinclair and we could hear the Cicadas singing in the woods. The surface of the water was covered with dead bugs. Their bodies were reddish brown and were everywhere.   

After fishing about three hours without a bite, I finally decided to “match the hatch” and tied on a red worm.  I immediately started catching bass. The bass were feeding on the dead Cicadas that had died in the water and fell to the bottom and were so focused on that food source any other color did not attract them.   

Carp are usually hard to catch on artificial bait, but during the Cicada hatch they come to the top and eat floating bugs.  You can tie a fly that looks like the dead Cicada and catch them on a fly rod, about the only time you can do that.   

This year the reason there are so many Cicadas is the 13 and 17 Cicadas cycles are matching, so both groups are coming out at the same time.   

Listen for the humming sound and know that is just one of amazing parts of nature’s life cycle.

Growing Up On A Farm

 Linda sometimes looks at me funny when I scrape every bit of food out of a can or gnaw every scrap of meat from a bone.  I grew up on a farm and my parents had lived through the Great Depression, so I was trained to never waste a morsel of food.   

There is an old saying that farmers used every bit of a pig except the squeal.  We may not have been that careful, but we were close.    When daddy and I shot doves or quail, we cleaned them and even kept the tiny gizzards, livers and hearts for giblet gravy.  We could not imagine popping the breast out and throwing away the legs and wings like is common now, they had meat on them! Squirrel hearts and livers were also kept for the same thing.   

We had 11,000 laying hens and sold eggs to local stores for resale.  But at the farm, we also sold directly to folks living near us.  They could buy cartons of eggs just like they got in the stores, but at a slightly reduced price.  Eggs were “candled,” running them over a light to look for cracks and blood spots.  Only perfect ones went into cartons.  

But for the frugal, we sold cracked eggs by the flat, two- and one-half dozen, 30 eggs, to each flat.  Flats were 35 cents each or three for a dollar, great for cooks making lots of cakes.  And we used the left-over cracked eggs, the ones not sold, at home. The only ones thrown away were the ones with blood spots.   

When hens “laid out,” reaching the end of their useful time, we sold them straight from the chicken house.  People would come from miles away to buy them, they were very cheap. 

And each time we cleaned out a house my family killed, cleaned and froze about 50 to last the few months until the next time a house ended its egg laying cycle.   

I will never forget the hens flopping around, bleeding out after I chopped off their heads with my hatchet.  After they quit flopping, they were picked up, doused in a big pot of boiling water to loosen the feathers, then plucked clean and gutted, saving the giblets too.   

We had hogs and when they were killed several hams were smoked, salted and hung in a tightly sealed room.  They would last for months although some mold would grow on them. Mama just scraped the mold off and we ate the salty meat.   

One thing we did not keep were the “chitlins.”  I never had them until I was grown, about the same time I realized the word was chitterlings. But most everything else was used. Daddy loved pickled pigs feet, a taste I did not acquire until I got out of college.   

Daddy also likes souse and tripe, two more things I never developed a taste for but were common for breakfast when I was growing up.    We had a huge garden every year and never bought vegetables.  String beans and tomatoes were canned,  and mama put up many jars of tomatoes mixed with okra for soups and stews.   

She also canned peaches, plumbs, pears and blackberries.  Butterbeans, corn, both on the cob and cut, black eyed and field peas were all frozen.    Potatoes and onions were spread on a sheltered concrete floor where they lasted all winter.  

  I guess growing up on a farm taught me to be a survivalist long before it was popular.

April Fishing Memories

I bought my first bass boat in March, 1974 and Jim Berry invited me to join the Spalding County SportsmanClub. He and I fished the April club tournament at Clarks Hill, camping in a tent at Mistletoe State Park.


I placed third in the “B” division with six bass weighing seven pounds.   

The lake and the club have gone through many changes over the past 46 years but going to Clarks Hill in April for a two-day tournament has remained consistent. I think I have fished it every one of those 46 years.   

Back then, the club had 78 members and we often had 30 to 40 fishermen in our tournaments and there were many father-son teams. We made a big production of it, with most of us camping together and having as big fish fry one night. We sat around campfires, often with adult beverages, and had a lot of fun.   

I still have the old scoreboard. I have no idea how I ended up with it, maybe because I was elected secretary/treasurer of the club in 1975, a position I still hold. Nobody else wants it.   

The old scoreboard is two 4×4 foot plyboard boards with plexiglass covering them. There was a stand made from metal conduit to hold them upright. I can still barely see the names and weights from that first Clarks Hill tournament on it, the last tournament where it was used.   

It took 20 keeper bass weighing 26 pounds to win that tournament. Now we have a five fish limit each day rather than the ten back then, after dropping to seven for a few years then to five.   

The lake has changed a lot, too. About 25 years ago blueback herring got in the lake and their population exploded, and bass took advantage of this high protein food source, growing big and fat. Then hydrilla got in the lake and covered much of the shallows, giving young bass places to hide and grow.   

Through spraying and introduction of 80,000 grass carp, the hydrilla has pretty much been eliminated.


Coots eating the hydrilla picked up a bacterium that killed bald eagles that ate the coots, and around 80 dead eagles were found over a ten year period, so the hydrilla was eliminated.   

A few years ago, spotted bass got in Clarks Hill and their population is growing.  We seem to weigh in more of them each year, and they are expanding from the Savannah River to Little River. I am afraid they will ruin the largemouth fishing like they have on Russell, West Point, Jackson and Bartletts Ferry.   

Last weekend the Sportsman Club fished our
April tournament at Clarks Hill. In 16.5 hours of casting, 15 members brought 109 bass weighing about 187 pounds. There were 15 five fish limits and no one zeroed.

Raymond English won with ten weighing 26.33 pounds and had a 6.0 pounder for big fish. Sam Smith had ten weighing 21.05 pounds for second, my ten at 18.2 pounds placed third, and Kwong Yu had nine weighing 16.41 pounds for fourth. Those weights are very similar to what won back in 1974, but back then it took 20 bass to weigh as much as ten in this tournament!

Fishing with Mother

 My mother loved to fish, as did her mother. Some of my earliest memories are following them to local farm ponds with our cane poles.  Theirs were much longer than mine, and they carried all our supplies, from hooks, sinkers and corks to meal and earth worms for bait.   

We fished for anything that would bite and ate our catch. Mama always said, “if its big enough to bite its big enough to eat.”  She was especially fond of the crunchy fins on little bream fried to perfection.   

We fished together a lot until I went off to college, then spent many happy hours in my bass boat when I came home for the weekend or holidays.  One day at the boat club I saw her love of fishing.  As we walked to my boat tied under the floating boat dock, we saw a snake slither into a hole where the control cables went in.   

Mama’s fear of snakes was well known, but she got into the boat and went out with me anyway. I did notice that she managed to keep her feet up off the boat floor most of the day though.   

One summer we threw out sinking catfish food under the dock, trying to attract them.  As I walked by the dock one afternoon, mama was sitting there fishing all by herself.  I saw her rod bent as she fought as big fish.   

I stopped and watched, afraid to distract her. I could hear her coaching herself, saying things like “keep the rod up, don’t get in a hurry, don’t reel while its pulling drag.”   

After a few minutes I went down and helped her net a six-pound carp. 

   That night I could not sleep thinking about that experience. I got out a can of kernel corn, baited up a hook on a spinning rod and caught two carp that size.  The next three days mama, daddy and I caught 37 carp weighing 175 pounds fishing with corn.  And true to form, mama found a way to can the filets, making the small bones dissolve like those in canned salmon, and we ate many carp patties.   

On one trip to a local pond mama and I were ready to leave when we noticed a lot of tiny bream in the pool below the spillway.  We took our rods and went down there and caught them, baiting out hooks with tiny bites of earthworm.   

We had a contest to see who could catch the smallest one, a challenge since the biggest was about two inches long.  We half filled a coffee can with them for the cats, it took about 30 to fill it that much.   

One summer I spent some time easing around the bank in my bass boat with a spotlight at night, seeing what was under water.  There were carp everywhere.  I rigged a big frog gig on a piece of metal conduit and started gigging them.

Mama went out with me one night and would sit on the back seat, opening the live well when I gigged one.  I would put the carp in, she would drop the lid and I would pull the gig out.   

My dog Merlin was with us and always got excited.  One time as mama opened the live well lid Merlin jumped at the carp as I put it in the opening and went in with it!  The look on Merlin’s face was priceless as she stood in there with all those carp.   

Mama and I laughed until we cried.   

If your mother is alive, cherish every minute with her. Some of us no longer have that joy.