One day will come

By TIM BEELAND,

Saturday afternoon while cruising the back roads of Rankin, Scott and Leake County, up around Ludlow I think it was, I spied a couple of fishermen on the bank of a creek and  wished I was shoulder to shoulder with them.

Then Sunday afternoon — in the rain — I was busy cutting back some bamboo cane and it was so long and straight that I thought to myself, wow, these would be perfect for setting out lines on the river.

Both scenes made me long for the summer of 1979. Those were carefree days, having just graduated from high school and not yet headed off to college at Mississippi State.

Back then a couple of my friends and me used to go ditch fishing all around these parts. It was really more visitin’ than fishin’ I suppose. That’s kind of what ditch fishing is. You don’t have to snag anything on your hook to have a good time. We never did, anyway.

All you have to do is find the right, quiet ditch, or creek, or pond, and grab a couple of buddies and maybe a cold beer, or two, or six, and perhaps a can of mustard flavored sardines, or vienna sausage, and, of course, a box of red wiggler worms, and the rest sort of takes care of itself.

It’s been a long time since we’ve done that. A real long time. Too long, I think.

One day soon I’m going to gather up some friends and head up there to that same spot where I saw all those other folks, or one much like it, and we’re  going to do us some ditch fishing.

One day...soon.

But, since it has probably been at least 20 years since I’ve done any fishing of any kind, one day might be further away than I’d like to think.

When I was a child, my family  would set our alarms early, real early, like midnight, and drag ourselves out of bed and make the hour-long drive from our house in Newton over to the Ross Barnett Reservoir and join the hundreds of other fishermen shoulder to shoulder on the banks of the Pearl River down below the spillway. There wasn’t an Interstate back then and there used to be an old ice house in Morton where we’d stop and buy block ice that would drop out of a chute I think. Odd what one remembers about a fishing trip.

We caught a lot of fish down there time and time again. Lost a lot of tackle, too.

There’s something evil about all those rocks and swirling water that can gobble up a lot of hooks, line and sinkers. And there’s also all those folks on the other side fishing back at you.

I can’t tell you how many times I thought there was a big ole whopper catfish on the end of my line only to notice the fellow over on the opposite bank thinking the same thing at the same time. I’d yank and then he’d yank and then before long we’d realize what was going on and one of us would finally let the line go.

We drove across the spillway this past Saturday afternoon too, and I saw a lot of people down there making their way around on those banks. One day, I thought.

We did see a lady fighting with something in a little creek that feeds the reservoir Saturday but in our rush to get back home didn’t have — or didn’t take — the time to stop and watch her reel it in. “I bet it’s a big ole catfish,” my wife said, and I said, “yeah” and we headed on down the road. If Saturday had been a Saturday in the summer of ‘79 we’d have pulled over and waited to see.

One day I would like to get back over to the spillway again. I’d like to try my luck and see if that elusive grandpappy catfish is still hanging out down there in that swirling, frothy bath waiting for my hook to drift his way. In my mind’s eye I can see him. I can smell the bait fish. I can feel the heat from the Coleman lantern as it lights up our spot. I can feel the warming sun on my back as it begins its journey across the sky in the early morning hours. I can feel my skin as it begins to pinken beneath the sun and I can taste the spray blowing through the air as the water pours out of the reservoir.

I suppose in that same mind’s eye I might be on a bank somewhere fishing right now. Somehow, though, it’s just not quite the same.

One day will come.