Sunday Classic ? You Cant Go Home

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Nice! That’s What You’re Looking For. Photo by Louis Cahill

William S. Burroughs, in his essay “Dinosaurs” wrote, “biologically speaking the one direction you can’t go is back”.

He was, of course, making a social comment but I was reminded of that idea while fishing the other day with a good friend. Joel Dickey was up visiting family over the holidays and was excited to do some trout fishing. For weeks he had been telling me that he was going to take me to the best trout stream he’d ever fished. The little creek in Tennessee that he grew up on. A stretch of private water owned by his aunt. I was excited to see the water and to spend a day wetting my boots with Joel.

I knew this was either going to be really good, or really bad. Joel has been living and guiding in the Keys for a long time now and things change. Things always change and where trout streams in the southeast are concerned, usually not for the better. In Joel’s memory this little creek was gin clear and full of big wild trout. When we arrived we found a different stream altogether. There were no fish of any kind. Only old tires and garbage, including a battery acid bottle. A sad sign of an unloved stream.

We moved on to a local tailwater and got into some nice fish and even some surface action, which is great for December, but Joel was heartbroken. It’s tough to see a stream you love go down hill like that. We’ve seen way too much of it in this part of the world and maybe we’ve gotten too used to it. Maybe we’ve come to expect it. Maybe we’ve become complacent.

You always hear stories about the good old days. You always hear how great the fishing was and how it’s never going to be as good again, how it’s all going to hell. Maybe that’s all true. I don’t know. Here are a few things I do know. You can’t recreate the carefree days of childhood. You can’t pour battery acid in a trout stream and expect to catch fish. You can’t go home, but you can save your water. It’s been done plenty of times by people who care. But caring isn’t enough. You have to get organized. Here are a few places to start. If you know others, please post them.

Trout Unlimited

The Bonefish and Tarpon Trust

Marine Fish Conservation Network

The Wild Steelhead Coalition


Just in case you’re interested here’s Uncle Bill reading Dinosaurs.

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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6 thoughts on “Sunday Classic ? You Cant Go Home

  1. Great Post Louis, You struck a cord with me about a little creek I grew up on. Lots of memories of time with my father and learning to fish. I can still remember the thrill to see a spawning King and a Brown gobbling eggs behind her. I just sat and watched. I went back to that creek last year after more than 20 years away. It was all different, the gravel was gone, tires and trash. Sad I realized I wouldn’t be able to make a difference there but I did hook up with a local TU chapter to clean up a river close to me now. You get a real sense of pride at the end of a clean up knowing that those hours spent with a group of like minded people can make a difference. Keep up the good work.

  2. I do not know what possesses people to throw tires, glass, and trash into a stream, but I see it every day on the Georgia Tailwater I live on. Some of this stuff is not just an eyesore, it is a danger to wildlife, my Chesapeake Bay Retriever, and people who use the river. When my boys were small, the younger one got a terrible gash from a broken bottle on a canoe trip in the Alafi River. Plus it degrades the outdoor experience for everyone. Twice a year our local TU chapter removes trash from the river and the lake and the watershed here. There is no shortage of trash year after year.

  3. I love this post because it is so true about many different streams and rivers around here, and in my experience it has tremendously impacted our smaller streams. One of the streams I grew up on used to be awesome to fish. I can remember going on any given weekend to stay at the cabin, fishing my way around and catching some awesome trout. Nowadays I hardly ever see signs of life, except for the beer bottles, empty cans of corn, and miscellaneous trash that lies in and around the water. It’s sad, and it breaks my heart to see the stream that I learned and grew up on fly fishing come to this.

    • smaller streams are fundamentally the most vulnerable…where I live…in Petoskey, MI there is a newly redesigned McDonald’s on US 31 by a golf course and they have proceeded to dump excess dirt into a local much that the stream is now blocked and it even caused the water to flood one of the fairways on the adjacent golf course..this is a sad story..this very tiny stream used

  4. ..used to receive Chinook, Coho, and steelhead runs…well thanks McDonald’s..they run don’t run there anymore…to be fair, if that exists, lake levels have dropped making it more difficult for the fish to reach the stream as well so I can’t put it all on McDonald’s..if you have been to my website, there is a video at the bottom of the “about” page and that video is now extra special because that doesn’t happen anymore

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