The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Outdoors

June 15, 2014

Granddad’s legacy lives on

His love of fishing has been passed from generation to generation

Granddad was a fisherman.  He was simply more than someone who liked to fish.

A person who likes to fish, for example, may wake up on a Saturday morning and decide a day on the water sounds nice. But a fisherman works all week readying his tackle and gear so that by Saturday, they have the utmost opportunity to catch fish.

Sure, someone who likes to fish may throw one lure with the perfect cast and snag a trophy. But a fisherman has the knowledge and experience to do it time after time.

After work on Friday, Granddad would drive to several local creeks to catch bait. Whether it was seining for minnow and hellgrammites or his personal favorite bait, crawdads, he didn’t come home until he had enough of the right bait for the fishing outing.

His specialty was crawling up the creeks at night with the use of a carbide lamp to find molting crawfish, soft-shelled crawdads. He knew the value of a handful of soft-shells was worth the aggravation and loss of sleep. He knew when placed on the right bait hook and with the right amount of weight, he could lure trophy smallmouth into striking. And he proved it often.

Although I wasn’t there — I was too young at the time — I remember the fishing story of the big smallmouth Granddad hooked and landed from under a downed tree that was often told in our family. A tree had fallen from the bank and the top of the tree was resting on the bottom of the creek. The creek’s current pushed against the obstruction causing a circling eddy and with the tree’s limbs and trunk, and it made a dandy spot for a fish to hide. It also made for a tough place to cast and to retrieve your bait without getting tangled up.

Granddad had studied the hole and knew how to read water well so he waited for the conditions to be just right. With the aid of a simply perfect soft-shell craw, a spool of light line as to not spook the fish and a tiny weight he casted the rig up under the sunken tree. As the bait slowly began to sink under the log, he flipped the reel’s bail so that the creek’s current could push the bait naturally. Once the bait reached the bottom, he closed the reel’s bail and placed his finger on the line to get a better feel for when the fish picked up the soft-shell.

With a thump felt on the line, he let the trophy run up stream before he set the hook. If he set it too soon, he would run the risk of getting tangled in the wooden debris and lose the prize. Once he felt enough distance was reached and he was in the clear, he set the hook on the giant and the light-line battle between fish and man was on.

Granddad took me fishing. He was a father and a mentor that took the time to teach me how to fish and what it means to become a fisherman.

Happy Father’s Day, Granddad. I think of you daily and I take your great-grandson fishing often so that he too, may hear your words.

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