Skip to main content

Across the River

Right now, a construction crew is working on demolishing the bridge over the South Tyger near my house. My son and I walked past the Bridge Out signs last week, just to take a look at the progress they'd made so far. The guard rails had been torn down partially, and the crew had put up erosion barriers to hold back the little bit of dirt they'd pushed around. The water under the bridge is shallow there, as that portion is being silted in. We talked about how great it would be if they would do a little dredging there, deepening the run like is was years ago, back when the bridge was a killer catfish hole.

About twenty-five years ago, I would stand on the bridge and catch channel cats by the dozen. Chicken liver slime marked the spot on the concrete rail where I'd cut chunks of bait, because that's the only bait I knew to use then. I'd drop my line down beside the pilings and wait to set the hook. With a jerk and a bowed rod, I would play the fish out from under the bridge and haul them up to me, dropping the perfect channels cats in a five-gallon bucket.

I kept every one I caught, and we'd save them up for a fish fry on hot Saturday evenings when all of the family would show up for a (free) meal. I never liked fillets of big catfish, they taste to much like the muddy bottom of a pond. I like smaller whole catfish-- minus the head, of course-- fried with the bone in 'em. Salt and pepper, battered and fried, please.

We'd go down there at dark, and fish for hours. It was nice just sitting down there, listening to the sounds of the river bottom on a warm summer night. What was left of the old, old bridge-- one that had fell in years ago-- was a good place to sit, fishing right off the end of it. The part of the old bridge sticking out over the water was a good place to put a folding chair and fish straight down into a deep hole full of bream and catfish. Now, if you stand in that spot, the nearest water is a trickle, seventy yards away. Another good fishing spot lost to hundred of tons of silt and sand.

This place has changed a lot over the years, some changes by nature, others by man. Just goes to show you how things don't stay the same. When I was a kid, I guess I thought it would always be like that, it would always be a good place to catch a few fish for supper. Now from the bridge, all you can see is the shallow water where the carp roll on hot July evenings. If you bushwhack your way upriver or downriver a ways, you may pick up a bass, or catfish or two, but I guess the days of filling the bucket with channel cats are over. That is, unless, mother nature decides otherwise. At least I have the memories.

Hopefully this new bridge with last for years, and provide safe travel for school buses and big trucks traveling across it. For a while now, buses from the school up the road have been going the long way around to avoid crossing it, according to what I read in the paper. Progress is good, run down bridges are bad, no matter if they're a good fishing spot or not.

Comments

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

After Dark

I stayed up way too late last night. Chase called on his way home from work and told me that we were going catfishing. That's usually how things like this begin.

My brand new son- in- law Bryan was going too, although my daughter wasn't crazy about the idea. No worries though, she would stay at our house and await his return. She ended up asleep on my side of the bed until we got back. Apparently, their agreed upon curfew was 11:30, and he did his best to keep it despite Chase's nudging him to stay longer. My son has no concept of time when it comes to fish, whether they are biting or not.

So there we stood in the dark, on a bridge that crosses the Tyger  River. Every creature that flies or creepeth upon the ground was out. The noise from insects and frogs in the surrounding swamp was deafening. Chase was our catfish guide. He'd brought all the rods, bait and any tackle we might need. Chase's bait of choice was chunks of chicken breast marinated in his secret formu…

Her First One

There was a certain air of anticipation that morning as our guide, Captain Charles King, plied the waters beneath us for signs of schooling striped bass. We came to Santee Cooper Country to immerse ourselves in the sportsman's paradise, and explore all the area had to offer. As our boat cut across beautiful Lake Moultrie, the sun was breaking the eastern horizon with a warm, red glow, casting a soft, picturesque light on one of the most beautiful lakes in the South.

The South Carolina Outdoor Press Association (SCOPe) and members of the Georgia Outdoor Writers (GOA) had converged on the Santee Cooper lakes, as they held their annual fall conference at Black's Camp. As part of the group of  writers and photographers that were on the lake that particular morning. My wife, Melissa and I, along with Georgia outdoor writer, Polly Dean, were matched with an experienced guide, a man whose business is to know these waters and the popular game fish that thrive in great numbers there. Ch…

Passing On the Hunting Tradition

At ten years old, it was nearly impossible to sit still on the cold, hard ground beneath a huge pine tree, beside my dad as he scanned an old hayfield in search of deer. I was bundled up in his old camouflage coveralls—which were big enough to swallow me whole—and the boredom had started to set in by 9 am. I busied myself, playing with sticks and pinecones as I watched the occasional squirrel or songbird that would come to check us out from a safe distance. It was a cold December morning in Greenwood County, South Carolina, and despite the extra layer of clothing and my thermal underwear, I was shivering, hoping that soon my dad would give up and we would retreat to the comfort of the heated cab of his pick-up truck. I sat back against the tree and pulled my blaze orange stocking hat down over my ears, and drew my head inside of the coveralls to warm up. In just a moment, I was jolted by the thundering blast from my dad’s .58 caliber muzzleloader, and I popped my head out just in time…