I spent the week before Easter at my place at Clarks Hill “social distancing” myself and meeting DJ Hadden to get information for my May GON article. When I called Linda on Wednesday and told her I caught a two-pounder in Broken Rod Cove and a four-pounder on Lost Hat bank, she knew exactly where I had fished.
I think it’s a habit of fishermen and hunters to name places they frequent. Over the years Linda and I named most of the coves and points we fished. But some of the names went back a long way before that.
When Clarks Hill was dammed it filled an old gulley that ran along a road going across the lake. Alongside the old road, the gulley banks dropped off between five and ten feet to the water level. We called that place The Cliffs and my church group camped there often.
When my family first started camping we put up our tents between the old road and the gulley and spent many happy days and nights there. We swam during the day, trying to touch bottom in the “bottomless” gulley. I found out later in life with my sonar it was about 15 feet deep but we never could go down that far.
At night we built a fire on the edge of the cliff, put out our catfish baits and sat around the fire, often all night. I can still smell the pine logs burning and the burn of the smoke blowing in my eyes, and hear the adults’ low voices as I tried to fight off sleep.
The Corps of Engineers closed off the old road, denying access to the cliffs. Then they dug out the banks of the cliffs for dirt for road construction. The gulley is still there underwater but gone are the memory-making places on the bank.
Lost Hat bank got its name from a windy March day Linda and I fished it. She had bought a nice terry cloth hat with a bill and was wearing it for the first time. A gust of wind blew it off her head into the water. Unlike other caps that will float long enough to pick them up, hers sank before I could turn the boat to get it.
A cove we fished often for crappie and bass got the name Broken Rod cove after I broke not one but two rods while fishing it one year. We spent many happy hours dabbling minnows and jigs around button bushes when the crappie were up shallow and caught bass around its rockpiles and stumps year-round.
Carp Cove was named after mom and I fished it one day and saw a huge carp dying on the surface. Turtle Cove was full of willow trees in the back and there were always dozens of turtles sunning on the low limbs and trunks and keeping a wary eye on us as we fished in the spring. I could almost hear them say “please don’t get so close I have to get back in that cold water.”
Duck Cove, Cathy’s Cove, Swallow Island and many more places were named over the years. Unfortunately, when I go to those places alone now the “ghosts” of the past haunt me. I get too sad to really want to fish, remembering and realizing those times are gone and will never come again.