You Can’t 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.

 
Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
www.ginkandgasoline.com
hookups@ginkandgasoline.com
 
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2 thoughts on “You Can’t Go Home

  1. It doesn’t take battery acid!

    I am very blessed for a bass fisherman. I live between two lakes that often appear in B.A.S.S Elite tour. To the east Kerr Reservoir, named Bugs Island by the locals and Smith Mountain to the North. There are many other wonderful lakes around including Philpot the mountain reservoir and head waters for the Smith River, home to monstrous brown trout. With so many options I found myself in my late 30s before fishing the Hyco.

    I feel in love with Hyco immediately. Only 2600 acres gave short runs from the main lake to the upper reaches and being the cooling reservoir for the power plant kept main lake temperature in the upper 50s throughout the winters. Great fishing year around! As winter turned to spring I began to search spawning flats and soon found my favorite.

    It is a marvelous flat in the very back of a cove covering about 3 acres with two small creeks and a crescent moon of stumps at a 6 inch break line. Some how an area that appeared so obvious has remained over looked by other fisherman and I saved this place for special occasions. It was here I took my nephew on his earliest trips and was blessed to catch the largest fish of my life. I carried a new friend, one of my real estate clients and tournament fisherman to the spot. As he set the hook on his fifth four pounder in about 20 minutes he let his rod fall limp, looked at me and said “Son if you can’t make it as a Realtor you damn sure make it as fishing guide!”

    I continued to visit the spot on occasions and still do but one summer about 8 years ago when the water was low I ventured back to the spot just to check on it. When neared the back of the cove I saw one of the land owners whom I had spoken to many times while fishing “My Spot”. Although he had noted the quality of fish, my love for them and even his enjoyment of watching me catch them he had no idea of what he had done. As I pulled in close he stood up covered in mud, grinned and said “I thought I would take advantage of the low water and pull out these stumps so the grand kids won’t stump their toes.”

    He had only pulled three but the first three in the staging area. Across the years I have returned to “My Spot” never again to find the rich harvest of the past. As I continue to fish down stream I have noticed the size and numbers of fish diminish for miles in the main channel. Some days I would hope that I was losing my touch and it wasn’t the lake but last summer while talking with a friend who fishes tournaments there he tells me the winning weight is down about 30%. Could the whole lake have thrived on 3 stump in fork of two small creeks? I don’t guess we will ever really know but when I think about it I want to waddle down to the tar pit….. and throw grandpa in!

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