You know that you’re living the life and spending too much time in the back country when you start hunting down a water bottle to cut the top off of to scramble your eggs in. That’s when it hits you, you’re at home, and you have bowls for that. So this week I kind of slowed down and headed back to the home waters. Between interviews, articles, and building boats, it seemed like the entire week, month, and year were flying by.
I was standing in the boat shop Conservancy and they had mentioned doing some work on this section of the river to make getting boats in and out of the water easier. We were excited about the idea but it wouldn’t help us today; especially with the steep slope that dropped down to the water. Luckily for us it was made of white river sand. So we slid the boat down and got it in the water.
along outcroppings the changing of the seasons had created a beautiful tapestry of fall colors
I asked Doc if he wanted me to pilot the boat or if he preferred to do so. He answered saying that he would like to putting risers in for the newest canoe and about to do some touch up fiber glassing when it I realized I had not been canoeing in months. And I build canoes! I knew instantly that had to be fixed. So I called up my friend James Farrington (Doc) and asked if he wanted to leave civilization for a couple hours and do some canoeing. His only question was, “your boat or mine?” I told him we could take his and he told me he would be there in a moment.
About twenty minutes later he was outside the boat shop waiting for me as I walked his way from the house with a couple of water bottles, a six weight, and my fly box. I never miss the chance to drift a hopper. It would be a sin. We decided to head down to the Hwy. 80 bridge over the Cahaba River outside of Selma. In no time we were there and as we looked down from the bank to the river below. I told Doc of how I had been speaking with folks from the Nature pilot upstream and we would switch on the way back down. That sounded fine to me. So we loaded up and paddled upstream. It wasn’t long before we saw just how much life was hiding in the river. I still had the fly-rod in the case behind be me when suddenly across the top of the water, shad started flying. We sat and watched as Alabama’s Steelhead began slashing at the surface after them. By the way that’s what I call striped bass as they are our native anadromous fish species here in the state. I watched the spectacle, loving every second of it. Doc and I watched the feeding go on for a few moments before it died down and continued up stream.
Soon we made it to a stretch of river that on the left side had a bluff of lime stone that had been carved by the river over the years. Across the top of the wall and along outcroppings the changing of the seasons had created a beautiful tapestry of fall colors. I decided then and there that I would just enjoy the day, and perhaps cast a fly on the float back down stream. As we paddled up stream jumping from eddy to eddy and running up the shallow gravel shoals, I was grateful for the realization that the river would have healed itself from the effects of the work on the Northern Beltline above Birmingham, once work began there, long before the water made its way this far down stream.
But all too soon the day was over and we were at the foot of the bridge again. So this modern Venator and Piscator’s day was done. After we finally got the canoe up the hill, I just hoped that the Nature Conservancy cut a hustle making the launch easier to use. But of course they have a lot going on, and I’m rooting for them. Doc and I drove back into town, and I think I finally understood the words of Samuel Johnson, “Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.”