The Redbud is in full blossom awaiting the arrival of Dogwood blooms. This was the fishing signal. Oh, you know, on the water by 7:45 and home by noon or one. Big decision was which location: Racoon Mountain Ramp, Sullivan's Landing, Marion County or below the dam. This alone could cause major tension going down the mountain. It's that "I really don't care .... where ever you want to go" that could create a snarl so big that we have actually turned around and gone home. So to avoid this catastrophe I would suggest we start with the closest ramp and if we don't find fish in an hour, move further down to the next location. This way, going below the dam was avoided. He loved catching BIG trash fish under the dam spillways, RATZ. Finally after years of this location squabble, we fell into a comfortable routine .... if he was driving, he chose; if I was driving I chose. AND this could all change with how many cars were on the ramp or in the parking lot. Always keep you options open. Are you still with me??
But this morning, I choose to recall Sullivan's Landing for Bass. Moving easily along the bank casting Spinner Bait and working Black Crawfish over rocky ledges. We rarely used the same bait. He always sat in the front running the trolling motor while I sat in the back with the big motor incase we needed to "run down the bank" a little way and I could take us there. We always caught fish.
The trouble with memories I start with a more recent moment but then I begin recollecting how I got here ..... the beginning. You're working a bank or drop off and the mind wanders back to that first Spring of our 1965 marriage. It was obvious I was going to have to learn to fish well, just learning the process would not do .... proficiency would be essential. A 5 foot Shakespeare fiberglass rod, Mitchell Spinning Reel and a frog colored Baby Zara Spook on 6 pound test line would be my training tools. Funny how we see ourselves. I had not considered myself as inept; afterall, I was an accomplished horsewoman .... really!!! I had really good hands! However, sitting in the front of that boat all summer, it was clear that "close" only counted in horseshoes. In order to attract that Bass under the stump, place the Spook on top of the stump "not a foot/6 inches from it". Of course, then the water would explode as a 3 pound Large Mouth Bass would inhale my plug looking for all the world as big as a whale, your heart in your throat and PANIC ... "set the hook, set the hook" ... "get his head up, keep the line tight, he's going under the boat, stay with him" .... then finally, " I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how you managed to catch this fish" and then the litany of all the errors began. I sat facing the world in the front of the boat as tears streamed down. There were times that summer I can attest to raising the level of Watts Bar lake by feet. BUT, I wanted to make him proud and I wanted to be confident. All those hours of frustration did pay off in spades when he invited someone to go with us. I was mortified until he said " for goodness sake, you can hold your own with anyone". And that was that; we were fishing partners for 35 years in fresh and salt water. One side note .... when Fall came and hunting season was approaching, he took me to the local gun club with a case of shells and cut a deal with the club pro to teach me to shoot .... he was soooo wise.
Maybe it's the love of water, but fishing ... what a gift he gave me. Set the hook, feel the throbbing of power on the end of your 4 pound test line, taking and giving, keeping that bow in your rod, a war of wills and manouvering techniques, "yep, yep, yep, come on baby, come on", then reach down and grab hold of the lower lip .... dinner or release to fight another day. Today, I would rather be casting an ultra light rod with a 1/18th oz or a 1/32 oz Rooster Tail for Shell Crackers, Bream, Bass than just about anything. See what I mean about getting sidetracked ... but it's a beautiful Spring day, pale green leaves will have little pale green worms and fish will be happy. Maybe I'll replace the line on my reels and drift down a bank. What a nice thought ... today.
Wow, I've done it again ..... memories and time .... I need a cup of tea and watch the young deer in the lower yard.