Fishing for Adventure
I’ve counted my blessings daily for the last quarter century. Not just because I’ve experienced many terrific fishing trips but because I fulfilled my dreams of becoming an outdoor writer. Although I caught my first bluegill in my granddaddy’s pond at the ripe old age of three, on the way to my chosen profession I’ve fished from Canada to Mexico and discovered canoe building. A memorable fishing trip in my hand-built wood-strip canoe is where this blog is headed. The waters of the Caney Fork River below Center Hill Dam lay as still as the morning’s air. The only movement came from a belted king fisher flitting along the shoreline trees and the occasional trout rising to sip a bug from the surface. We fished for rainbow trout with corn and nightcrawlers under a bobber near the dam until the sun became a bit too hot. We paddled downstream seeking shade and trout willing to bite our bait. We found both. About a mile below the dam my wife, Cathy, landed a 20-inch rainbow trout. She tied the bow painter to a limb of a fallen tree to hold us close to the honey hole where she’d just hooked her big trout. I paddled my end of the canoe from the bank to reach the sweet spot better. Soon the canoe began swinging gently in the current. A couple of minutes later I realized the painter was being stretched tight and we were bumping the bank. That wasn’t supposed to happen. It meant water was flowing through turbines at the dam although we’d checked the generation schedule day before. The way the Caney Fork was rolling we knew the flow was too strong for us to paddle against. It was pointless to panic but I’ll admit we were in a bit of a tizzy, being rocked on the horns of a wet dilemma. Paddling upstream wasn’t an option and our truck was at the dam on the opposite bank of the river. We tied the canoe to limbs higher up the bank and waited on the rapidly rising river. Fishing was over. We had two trout and a canoe full of frustration. After the water level finally stabilized, we crawled out of the canoe and worked our way up the muddy bank. We reached the edge of a large field and began walking through tall grass toward a road where we hoped to hitch a ride to the dam. Several hundred yards and no road later, we figured we were probably lost so we headed back to the river to wait for the generation to end. Fortunately, it wasn’t long before the water level started falling. Soon the current became manageable for paddling. Then came the best part of the fishing trip. In the afternoon’s golden sunlight, the super cold water formed a brilliant purple fog. With the high river bluffs framed in the background, a spectacular rainbow appeared. Although we hated leaving our honey hole, we’ve savored the unforgettable light ever since.