trying to remember the year …
– Last Updated: Aug-10-10 8:25 PM EST –
...... that I found the river damaged . It seems like late 70's or early 80's but all those years on the river just run together anymore , it's difficult to put them in order now . But what I'm sure of is this happened many years after I first started fishing there , and closer to the time I stopped fishing there .
In the beginning the way down to the river was a remote and heavily rutted steep twisty down grade of a mile or more . One spring there was a house being built (a nice one too) very close to the top near the entrance way off the main road . By autumn there were a few more to each side of the way down but still up near the top . As the years went on , more and more houses were built (singular and dramatic houses) into individual clearings off each side of the road . The road became improved (a nice flat and widened blue chip stone base) . Each year the improved road became extended down as far as each new house . I sorta liked that "at first" because the former ruts were really more of a dodge around and try not to fall into thing (some were tire deep) ... and still these new homes hadn't progressed too far from the main road , so it still felt like they had a long way to go before even getting close to my spot .
But the years passd and the new homes continued . One year I arrived to find the improved road made it all the way down to were I would turn off through the gate to go across the farmers field to the river ... and the road went on further than that branching off to the right . This year the farmer had a lock on his gate so I parked and walked the rest of the way down to the river .
This was a great farmer , he would clear a few spots and keep them maintained right along the rivers edge just so campers who had his permission could come and enjoy ... we didn't have to give any notice we were comig , just show up whenever . Matter of fact the farmer never wanted a thing from us , we didn't even know where his house was , he never told us and didn't even give a phone number ... all he asked was to keep the place clean and don't leave not one thing for him to pick up when we left . We met him only a couple times when he came down to visit us .
Anyway , this one section in particular (for camp/fish and because of the farmers graces) I would try to visit a couple/few times each spring and autumn . Did not canoe here , only wade fishing . It was called Thunderbird . This was a beautiful place and I knew every inch of that stretch before it was over . There were a few times that during the winters when I longed to be there fishing , I would even sketch and draw pictures of this stretch from memory to satisfy myself while waiting for spring to arrive .
In the spring the river would bloom with the most beautiful patches of grasses that would stand out above water . These grasses grew on the higher spots that were maybe calf deep , but those higher spots mostly had deeper troughs surrounding them . Put a few of these long grass patches running together side by side , and it created somewhat deeper channels between them . There were sooo many of this type feature in that stretch . Although you could cast to just about anywhere and be assured of a bite , I sorta favored these grass edges and channels . They were also nice to get up on for a little rest break from the current wading . Through out this stretch there were the occassional rock formations that would rise above water level also . There were plenty of deeper places but I usually backed off when it got chest high , and preferred waist deep . You could get in over your head in areas too , not sure how deep in those areas but maybe at least 10'-12' ??
Well , one spring I showed up with great anticipation as usual . As I began my venture out into the river the first thing I noticed was that these grass areas were practically all gone , and what did show of them was ugly and dead looking . They were not green and beautiful anymore , they were sickly and burnt brown grey looking . The shore line vegetation looked the same . Yukky dirty white foam seemed to be everywhere along the former grass beds , along the shores , in pools , etc. . There was never any of this foam before .
That day , I began to catch a species of fish that I had never caught before ... discovered later they were some kind of Creek Chubs , did catch a few Smallmouth here and there , but very few , and the Chubs out numbered the bass by far . As for number of fish , it was way , way off . Before this there were sizable Channel Cats (to 5-6 lbs.) , now and then one would be a beautiful "Blue" Channel Cat (a very rare thing indeed) . This stretch also held fantastic Blue Gills . As a mater of fact the very first fish I ever caught there was a "HUGE" Blue Gill , it would have easily covered a piece of note book paper , blew my mind !! That Blue Gill was caught from shore just before I stepped in for the very first time ... that day produced "well over" 50 caught and released fish (I just stopped counting by mid-day at 50) , un-numberable hits and misses , the majority were very healthy size Smallies . 15" was the norm for the Smallies there . One time I hooked a monster , couldn't bring it back to me , my friend eventually waded over to me to see what was going on (I had been doing my best not to let it break the line so far , but it was getting further and further away) . I gave him the rod , asked him to keep it up and hold tension while I started the trek following along the line to the fish . I caught up with it in a small pool behind a big rock sticking up out of the water . I bent over to get my hands on it , it was a bass alright !! To this day I swear it was the only Largemouth I'd ever seen in that river . I say it was a Largemouth because first off it was "HUGE" , and it sure looked like a Largemouth to me , it was a long as both my feet (I wear 12's) !! Well as I bent down and began to put my hands around the fish , I could see the broken back Rapala was only holding on by a thread of just one single hook , the fishes mouth had a good size tear were the hook was also . The fish was holding still under the line tension , as soon as my hands grasp around it , he gave a big tail wag and shook the hook . That fish swam right out of my hands , slid right through them and went his way ever so slowly . I just was amazed !!
oh well , this book stops here ...