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Blogging About a Photo, Part III

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me-and-my-fish.jpgOkay, here’s the last old photo for a while. This was taken shortly after I’d caught my “once-in-a-lifetime” fish. Here’s the story:

One of the ways I used to find to spend time with my dad was to go fishing with him. Fortunately, I was quite the tomboy, so I always looked forward to it. If you saw my earlier post about the bridge in Tallassee, the rocks on the river below were one of my favorite places to fish. I had as much fun crawling around as I did fishing.

I learned a LOT about fishing from my dad, especially about how to make your jig “dance” in the different movements of the water. When bass fishing, if you cast upstream in a swift current, you have to reel back in very fast, or the movement of the water will arc the jig downward, and it’s likely to get tangled in stuff on the bottom. If you cast downstream, you can reel in pretty slowly and jerkily to mimic shad or insect movement. Same physics apply if you’re fishing from a moving boat. (Sorry if that bored you. 🙂

So anyway, I was 10 years old at the time that my dad took me fishing on this particular day. I can’t remember if there was a reason that we didn’t fish from the boat this day, as that was my dad’s preferred way to fish, but this time, we walked from the boat landing on “the pond” (the Tallapoosa River) above Yates Dam all the way up to the base of Martin Dam. (Lake Martin is behind Martin Dam, for those of you who know anything about Alabama lakes, and is one of the largest man-made lakes in the country.)

martin.jpgI wish I could describe how precarious this place Daddy took us was. Basically, after making our way on the rocky shoreline, we walked along the bottom of the apron of the dam. (The apron is the spread of concrete from top to bottom and side to side.) We were at the bottom, right at the water’s edge (yellow arrow), and of course, we went around the “bulge” that was there designed to keep people OFF this part of the dam (to the right and unseen in this photo). That was the scariest part to me. I think there are still fingernail marks in the concrete wall where I was hugging it as we shuffled along the edge.

We walked all the way across the bottom of the dam and set up near the turbines….again, very dangerous. The turbines are where the water releases when the dam operators release the water from the lake into the river to raise the water level and generate more electricity. Needless to say, the water level rises quickly, and there is a great deal of turbulence when this happens. Fortunately, a siren always sounds before they start up, but I don’t remember what amount of time we’d have had to get to higher ground once we heard the siren.

The reason we fished there is because as shad come through the turbines (even when they weren’t releasing much water) the violence of their trip through knocks them silly, and they can’t swim fast. Bigger fish come along to take advantage of the situation, and therefore, makes for a good catch.

Lest you think my dad was totally insane for taking me to this dangerous place, he did have the foresight to bring a rope along. His reasoning? Because of the chance that the water could rise quickly and sweep me away, and because he can’t swim, he tied one end of the rope to a piece of rebar sticking of the concrete, and the other end to me. Basically, he would reel me back in if I got swept away. Sweet! 🙂

So there I am, with a rope around my waist and hoping the siren doesn’t go off. I don’t know how long we’d been fishing, but I’d already caught a couple of crappie (our favorite fish to eat). I was using a Zebco 202 reel, a dinky rod, a bream hook (very small), and two red worms. For those who know about fishing, this is almost a Barbie fishing set. 🙂

Suddenly, the rod was almost pulled out of my hands! I sat down quickly, and set my feet hard onto the concrete. I propped my knees up and braced my hands against them to keep the rod from getting away from me. It was pulling so hard, I could barely reel in. I started yelling for Daddy to come and help me get it in. He came over, but told me that I could do it myself.

Suddenly, that sucker jumped out of the water! To me, it looked like Orca!! In reality, it was just a feisty small mouth bass. (Daddy thought it was a large mouth at first, but it’s not.) He kept telling me to reel it in, but I was afraid to take my hands off the brace of my knees, which of course, made it difficult to reel. I finally managed to turn the reel sideways so that I could slowly move the handle, but still have it propped against my legs.

It jumped again and dove toward the bottom! I just knew that it was going to break the line or straighten the hook, but miraculously it stayed on. (When Daddy took the hook out later, he realized why it didn’t straighten the hook—which a fish can do when the hook is in the cartilage—it was embedded in the fleshy part of its mouth.) I finally managed to land it, and Daddy took it out at the edge of the dam. I was SO tired when it was finally in. Daddy was so excited, and wanted to leave immediately. So there we were, having to hike out on this treacherous path with him holding this monster and me exhausted.

I found this on Wikipedia regarding the fighting power of the smallmouth:

The smallmouth is highly regarded for its topwater fighting ability when hooked – old fishing journals referred to the smallmouth bass as “ounce for ounce and pound for pound the gamest fish that swims.”

I believe it!!

As we left the area, we stopped at a store that had bait and tackle and had it weighed—8 lbs!! (The state record is 10 lbs, 3 oz., and the world record is 11 lbs. 15 oz., so this one was WAY above average.) I believe we stopped at the house of every fisherman Daddy knew as we made our way home. When we stopped at Mr. Billy’s, he had just bought a new-fangled Polaroid camera, and he took this photo. The fish was mounted and has been hanging in my parent’s den ever since.

While I was in the right place at the right time, if my mom had know he had me there, she would have skinned him alive! 🙂

Oh, and please notice that my fashion sense started at an early age. Shorts with multi-colored stripes, a red bandana-ish pattened shirt, and a cap that had a pink octopus on it. 🙂 Oh well, at least I had leg muscles back then. 🙂

So that’s my fish story for the ages. Being the animal rights person that I am now, I still enjoy fishing, but I always put them back. 🙂


Written by blogicalinks

August 8, 2007 at 8:57 pm

Posted in Sharing, Whatever

7 Responses

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  1. Great story (and one i hadn’t heard before! 😉 ) But i had to comment because of a few weird coincidences…first, on the news just a bit ago they warned about stearing clear of the turbines on dams in the area because of the unexpected and forceful water flow/rising water…i guess there have been a few Totty-esque excursions by local fisherpersons as of late that prompted the warning. Second, today in the Wednesday Bham News there was an article about a retired woman who has taken up bass fishing and she won her first tournament with a Zebco! And who knew your family was so newsworthy all the dang time?? Pictures in the paper like you ran the place 😉 But i guess it’s Tallassee, huh? What can you do? 😉 Now, i’m off to find some old pics of myself to see if i ever had leg muscles, dang.


    August 9, 2007 at 12:07 am

  2. Great story! I felt like I was right there at the dam.

    My most-recent fishing adventures were trout fishing at a place called Wildcat Creek up at Lake Burton. My friend, Joe, and I would take Fridays off and head up there for the weekend (his in-laws have a mountain house near Helen). After a few unsuccessful trips, I started taking a camera along. I’d spend half th time fishing and half the time shooting pictures. By the time Joe moved to NY, he would fish the whole weekend and I would shoot all weekend – and we both considered it a successful trip!


    August 9, 2007 at 5:50 am

  3. What a trip! Yeah, your mama definitely would have skinned him alive if she had know what he was doing. The rope tied around your waist cracks me up. 🙂 I LOVE the picture!!!!


    August 9, 2007 at 12:17 pm

  4. Love the photo and the story. That bass was almost as big as you!!! LOL This brings back a lot of memories of me and my dad fishing too. Speaking of a Barbie fishing rod, they didn’t have much for little girls back then, but I did have a Snoopy set at one time. 🙂

    We normally fished for crappie and blue gills, but I can never forget the few times we went bass fishing. Those are some strong fish!!! You go girl!


    August 10, 2007 at 10:19 am

  5. Reminds me of fishing below Wilson Dam in Sheffield, AL. Only difference is that we referred to sirens as “sireens.” A cheap date in college, at nearby UNA, was to go to the dam and watch a boat lock through one of the two locks. Wilson Dam used to have the highest water lock in the world, until the chinese built one twice as high. Now with Homeland Security in place, no one is allowed near any of the locks. Thanks for the memory reminder.


    August 13, 2007 at 11:24 am

  6. Cute outfit!

    Ru's Mom

    August 13, 2007 at 1:31 pm

  7. I just remembered that I had an old fishing picture on flickr.


    August 14, 2007 at 8:21 pm

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