Story 1, March 16, 1999
When our website was being created I volunteered to write fish stories for the site. All my friends and many fans know how much I like to spend time with the fish and on the water. So for this first story I thought I may as well start at the beginning. Also, these stories may not be written in a sequence from the beginning to the present, but only as I can reflect on them. May we all learn to have respect for the fish and all living things.
Long ago and far away, deep in the Appalachian hills of southeast Kentucky, I was born and raised in a hollow called Goose Creek. I was delivered and given birth at my Grand-ma and Grand-paw’s house by Mrs. Amy Bagley, the lady who became my first-grade teacher, and I think, taught everyone in this area their first year in school.
In those days, this area was very remote, with our family still living somewhat on the barter system. I remember going to town on the week-ends with my Aunts and Uncles to trade eggs, milk and etc. for sugar, flour and etc.
We had no electricity or running water or any convenience of the city. As I remember it, my relatives worked hard, went to bed early, and life was quite simple as compared with life today.
Now you may say, this doesn’t sound like a story about fishing! Well it’s not! It’s a lifetime with the fish. My life! I have spent as much time fishing (maybe more), as I have with music.
I think the first thing in my life with the fish that I can remember, was when one of my older cousins came up the lane with some Chub Minners (Minnows), that he had caught with a hook, string, and a willow branch, down in Goose Creek. As I looked at them I was in awe. As I think back now I can remember some kind of special feeling, but no way can I explain it. Maybe more than Awe, maybe Great, Wow, Caught them! How? It was something new to me, And I was very intrigued. I was about four years old.
The next encounter that I can remember was being at the creek down behind Ray McComas’s barn. I was with someone (but can’t remember who), and we were either trying to catch minners with our hands, or were just watching them in the little pool in Goose Creek.
Goose Creek was very small, only about 1-2 miles long. I know we didn’t get any fish that day, because the next time I went, I got “hooked.”
This time we (maybe cousin Joe but I but can’t remember who else) went down the road to Charlie Allen’s home place. We crossed the small field to a much larger pool on Goose Creek.
I was fishing with a willow branch, a piece of string and a pin, bent in the shape of a hook and tied to the string. I was fishing with a piece of worm on my bent pin. If I can remember right, I think I missed a Chub Minner or two. Then I caught one. Don’t ask me what happened after that (I was so excited) but I hope I released the fish. But doubt that I did.
After that my parents moved to Eastern (small community) down on Beaver Creek. It was a much larger creek and had real fish in it, not just minners. Our house was on the creek bank up on a hill, but close to the creek. Just below the house was a spot where a lot of local men fished, and not with willow branches either, but with long yellow cane poles.
One day my parents allowed me to go down and fish for awhile with the men. I’m sure they had agreed with my parents to keep an eye on me (I was 5 or 6 years old). I fished with the men for a little while and watched them catch a few fish. I think mostly Sundabs (Sunfish) and maybe a small catfish or two. I would look around at the men fishing and I felt special, just getting to fish with the men.
After a while they asked me to go up to my house and get them some water to drink. I took off for the house, got the water, and when I got back and gave them the water, they told me my fishing pole was jerking while I was gone. They said I should check it because there could be a fish on it. I lifted the pole and there was really and truly a real fish on my bent pin. I grabbed the fish and flew for home to show the fish to my parents.
You’re right! It was years before I realized what really happened. Those men must have laughed so hard they filled their pants full of that water they drank. I want to thank those men for what they gave me, a beginning with the fish.
Well anyway…that’s how I remember it beginning.
Now if I only had a cane pole, real fishing line, fish hooks, and some of that lead for sinkers. What more in life could I want.