The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


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.

Text Only
  • 071714 Coda and Callie.jpg Coda and Callie’s excellent adventure

    How is it something that you profess to love so much can cause you so much anxiety and grief? No, I’m not talking about dealing with your children (or your spouse). This is worse. This is about dogs. More specifically, hunting dogs. 

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 071314 Chris Ellis.jpg DNR’s ‘outdoor summer school’

    Attention all West Virginia hunters and trappers. It is once again time for outdoor summer school and the course materials are hot off the presses.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Meet the Eurasian collared-dove

    Back in 1974 a local pigeon fancier imported a flock of about 50 Eurasian collared-doves to the Bahamas. Ultimately he released the birds, and they took to living in the West Indies. By the late 1970s some had reached south Florida, and by the late 1980s, some had been seen in Georgia and Arkansas.

    July 13, 2014

  • July in W.Va.: Recreational opportunities abound

    It’s July in the West Virginia mountains, which brings vibrant orange tiger lilies, blooming rhododendron, and of course fireworks. Usually the heat and humidity is in full force, but so far the weather has been nice.

    July 13, 2014

  • Shotgun 101: Shoot more and live better

    “God is not on the side of big battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best.”
    — Voltaire

    July 9, 2014

  • Fireflies are living lights

    At recent Fourth of July fireworks displays, spectators squealed with delight at the annual spectacle that illuminated the night sky. And I’m sure more than a few compared the spectacular pyrotechnics to the subtler displays of fireflies that punctuate backyards, parks, and campgrounds all summer long. We call these displays “nature’s fireworks.”

    July 5, 2014

  • Get on up, or you’ll get left behind

    “Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.” —
    William Shakespeare

    July 3, 2014

  • Catfish, it's whats for dinner

    I think for far too long the catfish has had an image problem. They seemed to be the Rodney Dangerfield of the fish world. You know, they got no respect. Fortunately though (maybe unfortunately if you are a catfish), that seems to be in the past. They are a fish whose time has come.

    June 28, 2014

  • It’s more than a boat, it’s an adventure

    Growing up on Elk River, I couldn’t help being connected to the river and its waters. It is where I caught my first fish, learned to swim, paddle a canoe, to read water and throw a buzz bait, killed my first duck, gigged frogs and spent many a Saturday night fishing for catfish. We lived in a river bank community, and the Elk provided us with everything from water for our homes to all the recreation a young boy would need to fill his youthful requirements for adventure.

    June 28, 2014

  • Old friends at the beach

    If your summer vacation plans include a trip to an east coast beach, I can’t predict everything you might see. But one bird that I guarantee you’ll encounter many times is the laughing gull.

    June 28, 2014