Greeting and a Good Day to you. Hope your day is going well.
Well, Green River; What a river! It may not be the best, deepest, longest, widest or such, but it is the best that I know about. The locals, in the Rockport area, have an expression that goes like this: "The Green River is the deepest river, for it size, than any other river in the World." At Rockport, the river is about 100 yards wide. It is about 150 or so miles long. It starts a few miles above the Mammoth Cave, in Taylor County (I Think) and ends in the Ohio River just above Henderson, Kentucky.
I started off thinking about a certain subject, but with this type of a stat, I don't have enough room to expound on the subject that I had in mind. The "Other Story" will come later. It concerns throwing "Green River Mud". You can not throw "Mud"!!!! Yes, stay tuned. Another page at a later date will be titled "Throwing Green River Mud".
This story will be only about the "Green River". The Green River is just a common river, but to a lot of people, it was a livelihood. Tom Decker, Fonzo Decker, Claude Graves, Charlie Sheffield and others made a decent income from fish caught from the river. Think that Fonzo Decker caught a 98 pound catfish one year and that fish is the biggest one that I am aware of, ever being caught from the Rockport area. I saw that fish. My thoughts were that it stretched from the cab area of a pick-up truck and extended to the tail gate. That is a big fish, and especially to a young lad of Rockport. It may have been someone else that caught the fish, but the 98 pounds of weight is itched in my mind.
To a lot of boys, growing up in Rockport was a joy that can only be known if you were one of the boys. Swimming was the best. I never knew a better place. We had "Mud Slides", diving boards, a diving platform, a swing, a sandy beach, a sandy area to wade, and a "Middle Pier" to jump from if you had the nerve. We had a "Washer Pit" on the outer bank, a "Horseshoe Pit", a place to dry off and put on your shoes and a place to take your "Weekly Bath". And yes, we always used "Ivory" soap, because it floated.
We borrowed and they borrowed. Don't guess that the "Borrowed" part is something to be proud of, but it happened on several occasions. One such incident concerns a "Diving Board". We had a nice platform for diving, but not much of a board. Then one day, a nice, oak board, some twelve feet long, showed up on our diving platform. Seems that a few of the older boys went upriver to Paradise and brought back a nice board that they had been in use by the Paradise youths. Hum, nothing to be proud of, but some boys will be boys. The "We Borrowed-They Borrowed" was continuous. You had to protect your property. Several attempts from "Paradise" and others to get our board was made, but we were there and we protected our turf. That board lasted for several years. That was some sweet diving board.
On the "Counter Side", boat owner seemed to have trouble keeping their boat secure. Leaving a boat overnight and securing it to a tree with a lock was not a "Sure-Fire" method of having that boat for use the next day. My uncle Ben had a 14 foot River Boat built and turned it over to his kin in the Rockport area. Boats have names and "Uncle Ben" named this boat "Ponder". It was named after a race horse and it was sleek enough to fit the image. Wow. what memories from that sleek boat. I had a key to the locked boat and tried to use it every day. With some simple fishing gear, I could and would get on the river with a friend or two and we would catch a bass or two. Nothing spectacular and no large fish was ever caught, but the times trying were some of the best.........
The use of "Nets" was a means of catching a lot of fish during times of "High Water". There were several "Net Fisherman" in the Rockport area and they caught a lot of fish at certain periods of time. I never used a net and thus, I am at a loss to expound on that subject. Basically the process consisted of placing a net in the river, perpendicular to the bank, and anchoring the net so that fish swimming upriver would swim into the net and could not escape.
"Trot Lining"; Ah, that was my game. A fisherman would place a line from one bank to the other with about three weights on the line so as to keep it near the bottom and then place "Stagings" or short lines three foot or so along the main line. Each staging had a hook attached and thus, there was about 100 hooks. The hooks were baited and ready for the fish. I never caught a lot of fish, but had some interesting tales to tell. Guess one of the better tales was about L. H. Harper and me. We formed a partnership one year and set out a line. We baited in the evening and ran the line the next morning. All went well and we caught enough fish to keep us content. One Sunday morning, I could not "Run" the line and L. H. went it alone. He caught a 6 plus pound catfish, sold it and made sure that I received my share of the profits. Think that I got a dollar for my share. Not much of a "Fish Story", but we were young teenagers.
The best fishing and the most fun of fishing concerned the using a rod and reel and the use of artificial bait. Those old Kentucky Bass just loved to attack an imitation bait fish and the fisherman was proud to catch such a fish. They were never big, but the fun never ceased. Using "Ponder", oars and a buddy or two, we could fish going "Up-River" to about "Pond River" and travel "Down-River" to about Ceralvo. We would even "Troll" to catch bass and other game fish. We never caught a big bass nor a big mess of fish, but we always caught a few fish and enough to keep us happy.
Most all of the youth, in the late fifties and early sixties, had to "Go North" to find work. Some went to the "Steel Mills" around Hammond, Indiana. General Electric, in Louisville, had built a large plant area that they called Appliance Park. G. E. employed thousands of people and a few of us were able to get a job at Appliance Park. In 1956 I was fortunate to get one of those jobs. Less than two years later I had to return to Rockport because I had been "Laid Off". I was on the "Waiting List" at G. E., to enter a "Tool and Die" apprenticeship program that they had established. A completion of this program assured the apprentice of a good job and continued success in their program. For the time being, I was laid off and returned to Rockport. By now, "Ponder", was long gone and I had a small aluminum boat and the desire to return to the river. Well, I did, and thought that I could make a living selling the fish that I could catch. I caught some fish and had a standing offer from Charlie Sheffield, for him, to purchase every fish that I caught. Well, the end result was that I caught a lot of fish and sold all to Charlie, but the profits were barely above my cost. I caught enough fish to break even, but not enough profit to do much with life. During this period of time, I think that I am one of the few people that ever got "Ticketed", in the Rockport area, by the U. S. Coast Guard. Sure enough, one day, I got "Pulled Over" by the Coast Guard. They were not happy with my mode of operation. Seems that I did not have the required "Life Preserver" in my boat. Heck, I did not have any "Life Preservers". The warning that I received stated that if I would purchase the necessary equipment, there would not be a fine and all would be well. I paid a dollar or so for the required equipment and then quit fishing and joined the Air Force. That was a great decision. A few weeks later, I entered the Air Force. Now, that is another story.
Again, just reminiscing, and putting a few paragraphs down with this old keyboard. If you are still reading this, thanks. Any comments would be appreciated.
Midi - The Fishing Hole.