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Fishing Memories

on Stanly County and Montgomery County water

posted - October 28th, 2020

My earliest memory is chewing on the rungs of my crib. It was an itch I had to scratch. My jaws pressed my gums to bite and gnaw with as much pressure as I could stand. Then I would go back for more. I wonder if lead paint was involved. If so, that might explain a lot.

Another early memory I have is my father holding me while he stood beside our refrigerator. He held me against his chest with one arm under me. My face was close to his. I don't remember my mother being nearby. He laughingly asked "Who do you like best, your mother or me?". I had to think about the answer to that question. It felt uncomfortable.

One spring when I was a boy, my grandfather and uncle took me fishing up the Uwharrie River. We started at Morrow Mountain State Park. I only have two memories of that day. I remember my uncle dragging the boat over a shallow area. In my mind's eye I still see him, but today he is just a moving silhouette, with water up to his knees. My grandfather and I were watching from shore.

Uwharrie River scene
Uwharrie River April 24th 2008.

The boat was anchored below swift water and parallel to shore. I remember sitting in the middle of the boat as they fished. They caught white bass in the pouring spring rain. The fish were hitting their lures as fast as they could cast. I watched from under cover as if I were looking out of a cave.

In the late 1950s and into the 1960s, my mother's father kept a homemade boat at Morrow Mountain State Park. His was not the only boat chained to trees on the bank. The boats floated where the foot bridge now lands on its boat launch side.

He loaded his motor, fishing rods, fuel and other gear. He then drove from Ash to Pine to Stanly and down Falls until turning right onto a road that made it's way into the park. Then he turned uphill and to the park entrance. Some mornings he would wait for a ranger to open the entrance gate.

Most often there was rain water in the bottom of the boat. To remove the water, he used a gallon Preston Anti Freeze can. Its top was removed and a copper handle welded to its side. I can remember the sound of the can made as it ran along the bottom of the wooden boat. He walked the motor to the stern and attached it. When everything was loaded he started the motor by pulling its cord. I can still smell the gas and oil floating in the air.

I'm now about his age when we made that trip for the last time. I thought he was old. I was impressed he walked the motor to the back of the boat. I wasn't sure I could keep my balance carrying the load in a floating boat.

My last memory of that day was nearing Falls Dam. We were heading into current with the boat aimed at a large rock. My concern changed to alarm when he gave the motor gas. The boat lurched forward the bow lifting and sliding onto a rock. I was glad I remained outwardly calm and he could not see my face. Safely on the rock, I remembered this maneuver from past fishing trips when I was younger.

My last fishing trip with my grandfather was on Badin Lake. We trolled for striped bass. We each caught a fish that day. I was 23. When my fish was hooked, he reached toward me to take the rod as if I were three.

copyright Phil W. Lowder