Over the weekend, my friend Ronald and I took an overnight kayak fishing trip down North Alabama’s Flint River. The water was high from heavy rains a few days earlier, and the fishing has been better. Still, the weather was nice, we caught a few fish, and it was great to be outside.
Well, I managed to have four and a half days off work over the holiday weekend and only get in a barely noticeable amount of fishing. I suppose a little fishing is better than none, but my hunger for a big (and successful) fishing trip is gnawing at my gut. This not catching much thing is growing old.
On Thursday Insane, his brother Justin, Jason Kelley, and I went fishing for a few hours before dark on the Flint River. On my second cast I had a smallmouth nearly kill itself trying to eat my popper, and somehow I still managed to miss him. That was it for me. Not another bite from anything large enough to eat a bass popper. Insane and Justin fished a feeder stream while Jason and I fished in opposite directions on the Flint, Jason going up and me down.
Ankle-biting slime on the Flint River.
After a couple hours of fruitless casting and fighting the long strands of bright green slime-like weeds that rejoiced in wrapping around my ankles, I headed back to see how Jason was faring. I arrived to find him working a big flat pool full of rising fish, none of which he was fooling. I sat on a log and watched. We decided that a size 8 Adams would probably have done the trick, but we had only brought the typical gaudy warmwater flies. I got up with my big bass popper to give it a try. After only a handful of casts, I decided it was pointless and began practicing distance casting, succeeding only in scaring the remaining fish into the next state (it’s funny what you’ll resort to when the fish aren’t biting – don’t think Jason was amused). I simply cannot get as much distance as I’d like with a big bass popper. They just catch so much wind and seem to die mid-way through a long cast. Actually I can work out a decent bit of line and shoot some distance, but I can’t hold much line in the air. A few times I let the popper hit the water surface on a double hauled false cast, and from the sound of it, I hauled the thing straight to the river bottom. Sounded like someone dragging an anchor behind a motor boat. I finally gave up, cursed a few last times at my casting arm, vowed to practice on the lawn, and trudged back to meet Jason at the truck. Continue reading Mondays with Hawgdaddy: July 6, 2009
The first time I saw the Flint River I had a 60 year old real estate agent and an overanxious, but young and pretty, sales lady hovering over my every step. I’d like to say that sealed the deal on the house – the Flint, not the attractive sales lady – as I immediately envisioned fishing in my own river, but the yammering about the neighborhood, interest rates, and why NOW was such a GOOD TIME TO BUY affected my imagination and fantasy neurons.
Besides, I had to pee.
Now, four years later and on the verge of moving yet again, I look back and realize how blessed I was…
In May of 2005, I was toiling away for Citrix in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl., when I got a call from an old friend. He offered me a position working for NASA (through a contract) on Redstone Arsenal, so long as I was willing to ‘get up here’ within 2 weeks. I pondered the situation. On one hand, this was sunny South Florida, and that was, uh, Huntsville, Alabama. On the other, I and my family had a much greater chance of making it in to and out of any given store in Huntsville without getting stabbed than in Ft Lauderdale. Decision made, we made the call, pulled the trigger, and settled in New Market, with the slow but steady Flint gurgling a few hundred yards away from our front door.
At the time things were very surreal. So much so that – believe it or not – it took me a couple months to actually make it to the Flint for a fishing trip. Initially I wasn’t even sure it even held fish. The river was so slow and low – little more than a creek – I wasn’t sure anything worth catching would be in there. Then, one day, my neighbor across the street was sticking a rod into the back of his truck. I yelled over to find out where he was headed and, 10 minutes later, two relationships were born: my eternal lust for catching fish out of the Flint and a sincere friendship. Zack has been a great friend, neighbor, and fishing buddy for 4 years now, and continues to be – in my opinion – the most entertaining fishermen to go out with ever. *
That first fishing trip was nearly disaster. I had old line on a spinning reel that kept twisting itself into bird nests, and was totally unprepared for wading a river – something I’d never tried before in my hometown of Theodore, Al. My only saving grace was Zack was just as unprepared (and unskilled) as me, and carried along with him two very cold adult beverages.
I told you he was a good man.
We wound up catching, that day, everything but a smallmouth. Two largemouth, a few bream, some crappie and a freshwater drum Zack went ballistic over. I think, to this day, his “What the ___ is THAT??!?” continues to echo somewhere on the river. I still had no idea smallmouth were even in the river, but was pleased to know there were some fish worth going after.
Not long afterward I purchased a couple of tandem kayaks, and the wife and I decided to take their maiden voyage down the Flint together. The idea was to scout everything out, making sure it was ok for the kids. On that trip I, of course, took along one lone ultralight spinning outfit, ‘just to try’ while we were paddling. Among the many fish I caught that day was my first smallmouth. Ever. He would’ve gone 3 lbs on anyone’s scale, although to my adrenalin filled arms and endorphin soaked brain he felt and looked like a State record.
Pardoning a pun, I was hooked.
I’ve spent the better part of the past 4 years trying to pull smallmouth out of the river. Sure I’ve done battle with the other species, but I just can’t match the addictive rush I get from smallmouth blasting a topwater. Cocaine? Heroin? Supermodels? Forget it – THIS is the drug for me…
OK, I’d take a super model too, but you get the picture. Continue reading Memories
My best friend, growing up on Oaklane Drive in tiny Theodore, Alabama, was a guy named Joe. Among the other assorted exploits young men get into (shooting anything that moved with a 22, riding bikes everywhere, blowing up fireworks, etc.) Joe, my brother, and I used to regularly ‘camp out’ in his backyard. By camp out, I mean we’d stay up all night and run around the neighborhood, wreaking havoc and, occasionally, trying to work our way into the hearts of the young ladies living on our street.
Yes, I said hearts – not what you were thinking, you sick twisted freaks.
Anywho, on one notable evening Joe had decided we needed to ingratiate ourselves to the fairer sex, who happened to be having their own sleepover type fest at a house just down the street. I’d go into the various attempts he made that evening to get their attention and, eventually, get to their window, but suffice it to say while it initially seemed to be lost on our targets, it did seem to get everyone else in the neighborhood’s attention.
Lisa’s dad sure noticed.
Undeterred, we kept at it until, finally, in the wee hours of the morning, we were summoned to the window by quiet whispers and gestures. All that running, all the hiding, all the praying the shotgun really wasn’t loaded finally paid off.
Which brings me to my point – never give up. On women or fish. Continue reading Never Give Up