Monday, March 21, 2016

Fishing in Horse Creek

My work took me to Fayette this past week. The schedule was loose and the day was the warmest yet of 2016, so naturally I chose to take the back roads where there’s always something interesting to see.

The route I chose ran through by the old house where I was born. At one point, I came to a piece of property that once belonged to my Aunt Willodean. These days, all that’s there is a grove of privets as thick as thatch.

My aunt bought the house and property from the Warren family who lived there when I was in grade school. The land was on the edge of Horse Creek, and often turned into a swamp when it rained.

A clip of memory played through my mind like an old movie, and it helped melt away the miles of my trip.

Cane pole fishing was a big part of my young life. I spent hours catching crickets, digging red worms, and looking for the perfect fishing spot on the banks of Horse Creek.

My brother Neil loved to fish too, but he took bait collection to the next level when he fashioned an old window screen into a minnow basket trap. It was cylinder shaped with a cone mouth, and he used pieces of loaf bread to tempt them inside. The minnows would swim in through the cone to get to the bread.  Once inside, they couldn’t find the small opening to escape. It was an ingenious design for catching minnows and crawfish.

One day when I went with him to “run the baskets” we discovered he’d trapped something unexpected. We’d tethered the baskets to the bank with a length of wire and when he started pulling in to check the contents, he realized there was something in it much heavier than minnows. When we got it to the top of the water, we saw something writhing and thrashing inside.

Once on the bank, we discovered it was thick with snakes. There were six Cottonmouth Moccasins in there, and they were not happy.  We couldn’t figure out how to free them without getting bit, so the next few minutes did not go well for these poisonous pit vipers.

That was the summer I refined my fishing techniques. I didn’t have the money for fancy rod and reels or store-bought rigging, but I did OK.
I must have looked like Opie from the Andy Griffith Show walking to the creek bank, a bamboo pole with the line wrapped around it like stripes on a candy cane. About 18 inches from the hook was a small section of dried corncob that served as a fishing cork.

The rig was perfect for the brush-gnarled banks of that little creek and through the years of my youth, I pulled my share of bream and bluegill out of those waters.

I hadn’t thought of these stories in years, but you can always find interesting things when you take the back roads.

Still fishing.


  1. You don't say what you did with the cotton mouths, but i think I would have done the same thing. Very scary!

  2. eeesh snakes alive!!!! Hope I dont have bad dreams tonight now. Thanks Rick!

  3. You have to love this trips down memory lane Rick... pretty good ones with some nice thoughts of a simpler time... definitely compared to now xox

  4. I am wondering how you got those snakes out! I would just run in the other direction. When I read this I thought of the many kids who have lost out from having such a wonderful memory. They just have their time with their computer.

  5. There's another column in the making for the newspaper...

    Ms Soup

  6. I did not know snakes would swim into the minnow traps. I'm glad we never caught any.

  7. Hello ole buddy. I fished a lot with my uncle Kenny when I was younger. Lots of memories from those hot KY summer days.

  8. Your post was loaded with lots of good memories. I wasn't ever much of a fisherman but have some good memories of my own when I sat on swinging bridge over the creek fishing at my grandparents as a young girl. Fishing soothes the soul.

  9. Your brother sure found a great way to trap poisonous snakes. I'm not fond of snakes and that's one reason I'm glad to live where we don't have poisonous snakes even though it's colder here.

    I used to go fishing brook trouts when I was a young girl. I used a branch with parcel twine and a little rock as a weight and a red worm on a hook and I would catch my dinner. No need of fancy gears and the trouts tasted wonderful fried in homemade butter.
    That a nice fish you got there.


  10. An interesting story. I enjoyed fishing as a kid. Well, I liked the experience more than actually catching fish.

  11. Thinking, revisiting and smiling. What a way to shorten a trip. Fishing stories are the best!
    Good one!

  12. Anonymous4:43 PM

    I feel like I just went fishing with you!!

  13. I don't like fishing, I don't like fish, Tim however, likes both when he was younger he liked to go fishing a lot now days he doesn't seem to have the time

  14. Great story and great picture!

  15. Hey, Yikes we were just talking the other day about snakes swimming in the lakes. But I do like to fish and I enjoy eating fish!
    So glad you had a day of great memories from your childhood days!
    I enjoyed reading them!

  16. You left me hanging at the snakes. Love the photo and I love fishing.

  17. After reading this story, you might like 'Cracker's Mule' by Billy Moore. Plus it's based in my home town where his grandparents lived. :-) Sheila

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