It’s been too hot and dry this summer for fishing to be much good, plus we aren’t physically up to the rigors of a river fishing trip, but we can still reminisce about fishing trips of the past.

In our early married years, we often went fishing on Saturday, usually with my husband’s brother, Tom, the career fisherman. I don’t mean he fished for money. I mean he lived in such a way that nothing interfered with his fishing. All we had to do to get ready was gather some worms the evening before, pack some sardines or Vienna sausage and crackers, get up before the crack of dawn and be off. If we went to Berry Hewett Landing, Morrison Springs, Pine log Creek or Spears Fish Camp, all we needed was a cane pole, earthworms or red worms, some no. 6 hooks, a few extra corks, line, and lead sinkers (for me) and rods & reels, plastic worms, and flies for the fly rod. We could rent a boat and paddle at one of the locations for a dollar or dollar and a half a day if we got there early enough.

After the children came along, my days of fishing were very limited, but the Tison men still enjoyed the freedom of renting a skiff whenever they chose to fish or they fished from the bank. Before too long, however, the rental boats disappeared as more and more people owned their own. Jack’s first boat was a one-man boat that he built himself from a design used (maybe invented) by Mr. Terrell Creel. It is in two parts that fasten together with gate hinges and can be carried by one strong man to the trunk of the car and transported to the fishing spot. I had thought that Uncle Jim Brock had perfected that unique design so that Aunt Jessie could drive him to the river and pick him up in her car (He didn’t drive), but Mr. Creel corrected me on that misconception. Uncle Jim borrowed Mr. Creel’s originally designed boat and never returned it, so he just built himself another one. My Dad always said that if Uncle Jim missed a day going fishing, he’d have to go twice the next day.

Then Jack got more ambitious and built himself a 12 foot wooden skiff

And bought a 3.5 horsepower Evinrude motor from the late Wallace Donaldson. Then Later he upgraded to a 25 Horsepower Johnson which he and our sons or he and Coach Segers got a lot of use from, adding a trolling motor as finances allowed.

Then after our children were all out of the nest, finished college and on their own, he advanced to a 15 foot bass boat with a 45 HP Yamaha motor. Then a fishing trip became a major undertaking. Finding a partner, getting the boat ready, check the motor which has been collecting dust for months,assemble tackle, life preservers, bait and etc took a day. After a fishing trip then there was the clean up: drain, clean and store the boat and clean the catch if there was any.

I remember my first ever fishing trip. It was on my 5th birthday and Aunt Annie Ellis, not a real aunt but a little lady who lived with my grandparents for a long time, took me and my cousin Wilma to Gum Creek within walking distance of our home. We only caught red eyes and perhaps a few red bugs and briar scratches, but it made indelible memory for me that at age five I was a significant person worthy of attention.

Jack relates a fishing story from his childhood. He and a friend slipped off from home and went fishing in one of the two “ponds” where Northdale Subdivision is now located. It was close enough to home that they could hear the family calling and calling them, but they kept fishing. When they decided to go to the house they picked blackberries for awhile and ate them, smashing some and rubbing them on their lips and around their mouths, Then they returned home to their parents angry questions, “Where were you?” “We were picking blackberries” was Jack’s reply, but just then his friend came around the corner of the fence with his fishing pole over his shoulder and it was pay up time for Jack.

During my growing up years, a Wells fishing trip was mostly to the Choctawhatchee River usually to Dykes Eddy. Snoring earthworms was part of the ritual. Daddy would take a stake, drive it into the ground and rub the axe head over the “stob,” setting up a vibration that caused the earthworms to come to the surface. Finding the fat crawlers was more fun than any Easter egg hunt. I think Caryville still has their “Worm Fiddling Festival.”

Today about all we can manage is to buy a few worms or take some light bread and ball it up and go down to the family’s farm pond and tease the turtles, but that’s about more excitement than we can handle now. Fishing is mostly a pleasant memory.