For many of us who were born in Appalachia, a pretty spring Saturday called for getting gas in the truck, loading the boat, hunting some nightcrawlers and having mom get some sandwiches together, so we could head for a river or lake bright and early and spend the day filling our stringer with all varieties of fresh-caught fish.
Oh, the joy of getting the last piece of worm finally on the hook and being able to dip our fingers in the water splashing against the boat. Hands had to be clean again before we got hungry and wanted to eat (which was pretty early in the morning).
By 9 a.m., the sun always began to strengthen and its very warm rays required ridding oneself of a layer of clothing, usually the sweatshirt. Not long after, the fish seemed to take a nap and began lengthy analysis of every piece of bait before they would nibble. It was this slowdown time that I disliked most, because I was sleepy, too, and just wanted to crawl in a bed and shut my eyes. But, dad was good to take us with him, so keeping on task was expected and adhered to.
Sometime before 11 a.m., all would decide enough time had been spent casting and we would just have to share the catch for supper that evening. The boat was rowed to shore and the happy fishing band headed down country roads full of satisfaction and a story or two to tell mom.
It is a good thing that these memories can be relived in this day and time, and I strongly suggest these outings for families, friends, children or anyone who would enjoy the challenge of fishing - and the time spent in natural spring surroundings. There are some terrific places to go.
A Western destination might be Stonecoal Lake that borders Upshur and Lewis counties. The Georgetown Road Exit on Corridor H, about 7 miles before entering Weston, has an excellent boat ramp for lake fishing.
This management area has 2,985 acres, and the best shore fishing is found on the Upshur County side. State-record fish have been caught here.
Found 6 miles northeast of Belington off Route 92 is Teter Lake. Thirty-five acres are home for largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, Tiger muskey and stocked trout. A rustic campground has 20 sites for tents and trailers. Night fishing is common here.
If a southern location is desired, find USFS Route 54 off Route 250 East beyond Bartow, where Lake Buffalo has 22 unspoiled acres of large stocked trout, smallmouth bass, bluegills and channel catfish. Only boats with electric motors are allowed here.
And, of course, the grandaddy of all mountain lakes is at Spruce Knob. Serious anglers can head to Route 33 East and go up Route 29 where a 28-site campground awaits. Guests also will be treated here to viewing 230 bird species.
When I think of early times and so many excursions to the river or lakes for family fishing, I am reminded of the gospel lyric, "I have peace like a river in my soul." Beyond the tug of the spinner-baited line will be the beauty of the forests, plant life, butterflies and high mountain ridges blooming with redbud and apple blossoms. The air will be cool and clean; the water on good days will be an emerald blue.
It is no wonder the quiet lures people to these pristine places. They share in a glimpse of God's gifts to us that escapes the grasp of the city-dwellers and beach combers and let us be assured that we, too, are people of privilege.