Lately I’ve found myself drawn more and more to out of the way backwater places that no one else pays much attention to, and less and less to the big world famous reservoir practically out the back door. I guess there just seem to be too many people, and I’d like to get away from them, even if it means catching tiny fish of questionable genetic heritage out of pot holes and ditches.
I finally got around to trying out a stream (this is a charitable label) near my in-laws’ home in the northeast corner of Alabama. This thing is practically a ditch. It drains a small cove branching north off from the main Tennessee Valley before petering out just south of the Tennessee line. But it does manage to flow year round, and I’d heard of someone at some point in the murky past actually fishing it, but, and this is important, I’d never heard of anyone actually catching anything out of it. So, I didn’t have very high expectations.
I showed up with a beat up old spinning rod and a pack of what I thought were 6″ plastic curly tail worms. Turns out they were actually 10″ versions. This lowered my expectations even further, figuring such a large lure would send any fish present scurrying for cover, certain they were about to be swallowed by a big cottonmouth.
The water was low and clear, highly unusual for April. Which reminds me, what the heck is up with the weather?! We’ve been consistently in the 80s since the beginning of March, and rain has been scarce. I had grown accustomed to below freezing weather well into April the last several years. I’ve never seen anything like this Spring. It’s not unusual for Alabama to experience some warm weather as early as February, but it never holds on consistently until late April or March, and there’s always plenty of rain. Not this year. I sincerely hope this isn’t a sign of what Summer will be like.
Anyway, I tossed the huge plastic worm around the 10′ wide creek for awhile and was surprised, nay, shocked when I felt a telltale bump and the line took off sideways. I set the hook and brought a hefty redeye bass to hand (at least that’s what I think it was – actually looked like the hapless offspring of a mass orgy of various basses and sunfishes, but I’m no biologist). The thing was fat as a pig and put up a pretty good battle. I missed several more fish afterward, and figured the size of the lure was to blame for the poor hookup ratio. Couldn’t have been rusty hook setting skills…
This episode set me to thinking. This little creek runs for several miles in either direction from where I was standing, eventually petering out to nothing upstream and dumping into the main Tennessee River downstream. It even looked somewhat wadeable (a rarity in this part of Alabama), and I could certainly float it in my kayak (dragging it over the occasional obstructions). I’m convinced almost no one else would consider “wasting” their time on it. Heck, I’m a small stream guy, and I took years to drag myself down there and try it out. I think portions of it would make pretty good fly fishing water, which is a huge bonus. Just thinking about it made me supremely happy. I think that maybe so long as there are unloved little backwaters like this to explore, then things might actually still be okay with the world. Not perfect, for sure, but just maybe not as bad as watching cable news would have you believe.