Saturday, September 10, 2011


I somehow ended up with a scheduled three days off this week and decided last night to go fishing this morning early.  Up before first light; I hitched up the Gheenoe and headed for the lake.  A very, very thick fog made driving chancy but, I seemed to have the whole road to myself since it was Saturday.  I was driving on Route 25E that goes past a large parking area with a boat ramp.  I figured I would just put in there and drive the lake upstream to German Creek.  When I arrived at that ramp;  I saw what must have been three hundred trucks and trailers.  An enormous bass tournament was getting underway.  Trucks and trailers filled every parking spot and overflowed out onto the fringes of the four lane highway.   The bass were in for it today.  And, fishermen wonder why the bass aren't biting.  If 300 boats catch and bring 5 bass back per boat to the weigh in;  that's 1500 fish pulled out of their spots on the lake and driven up to three miles back to the dock for weigh in.  After weigh in they are released at the dock.  I'm betting they never get back home.  Anyway----

I continued driving to Oak Grove boat ramp on the North side of the lake and put the boat in there in heavy fog.  This is a favorite ramp I use for the state boat so I know this area well.  I aimed the Gheenoe toward German Creek and carefully drove across the bay blind in the dense fog.  The Lake Shore Drive bridge loomed ahead and over me and I knew I hit the channel dead on. 

A half mile up stream from the bridge;  I shut off the motor and enjoyed the quiet and being encapsulated in dense fog.  The anchor light and forward navigation lights were on of course.  I couldn't see the shoreline but had a good idea how close I was.  The waters ahead contain many rock piles and mud humps just under the surface and I would not venture further until sun up.
If I had the navigation system off the state boat, I could run this lake easy at night blind.  But all I have is sonar and GPS.  There isn't a lake map that works in conjunction with the GPS in this unit I have.  I have what is called the poor man's navigation system.
The fog lifted and I fished along the rocky shorelines on German Creek for two hours.  I couldn't buy a fish.  The bass boats blasted upstream and downstream constantly.  I was getting uneasy.  When I get that way I have to do something to alleviate the feeling.  That something was to leave.  I don't know what gets into me at times but when it does get into me, I become agitated and irritable.  I think I know what it is.  It's the environment in general.  I'm spoiled.  I have lived in the country where pristine, gorgeous lakes were minutes away.  My favorite Calderwood was an hour drive.  I had great canoe water and I had great hiking areas.  This part of East Tennessee is very different.  Below are two contrasting photographs of what I'm talking about.  The first is Calderwood Lake;  my favorite place in the whole world:

Calderwood Lake

Cherokee Lake
 The shot at Cherokee Lake is one of the better ones I have.  See the difference?  Calderwood is pristine by lake standards and Cherokee is a rock quarry with water in it surrounded by the largest housing complex in Tennessee.  There is nothing esthetically pleasing about it to me.  It is, however, a wonderful resevoir fishery.  Actually it's spectacular and, if that's where your interests lie you're all set.   I need wildlife and gorgous surroundings to be happy on a lake.  A lack of human habitation is also necessary.   Cherokee is a "job" lake to me and that's it.  I work it for the state.  I have no problem separating pleasure from work.  Cherokee is work.  It's where I drive the state boat.  And, it's great work and enjoyable.  Actually, I think I have the best job in the world.  But, for my personal enjoyment;  I'll travel to my favorite lakes back West of here.  It's no big deal.  I'm the luckiest guy in the world.  Got a fantastic job that I enjoy beyond even my own belief, a great property in the country with four acres, four great, well mannered dogs and enough toys to keep me happy for life.  I'm a happy camper.  That all being said;  I was tired of hearing the screaming of boat engines this morning and I simply decided to leave, in a heart beat.  This would be a good morning to get the dogs some exercise, especially Chestnut.
I noticed this little guy on the bird feeder when I parked at the house.  The feeder is old and broken but I put sunflower seeds in it just to see who would show up for a handout.

This little guy and about fifty more like him keep that old feeder swaying as if a constant wind were blowing it around.  I like to sit on the porch with my binoculars and just watch the activities there.  I noticed three squirrels scurry up the tree that the feeder hangs from.  Guess I"ll have to buy some unsalted peanuts next time I'm in town.  No wild creature gets turned away and none go without a full stomach.

The only place I know of where I can take the dogs for an outing is the Wildlife Management Area (WMA) at Buffalo Springs.  It isn't too far from Cherokee Lake and is the TWRA work center.  The area consists of 450 acres of field and forest and has ample room for the kids to run and get tired in.  Chestnut hasn't been away from this property since we moved here the end of June.  She would go with Shade and Happy today. 

"Come on little girl.  Hurry!"
Her eyes got wide when the truck stopped.  She, like the other dogs, became excited about the new environment she was about to explore. 

She left the truck, stopped, smelled the air, and took off for a field of tall grass.  She was so happy to have this new territory to romp in and to just sniff around.  She was very happy.  And, that made me happy.
Normally a hound will follow his own nose, so to speak.  They become difficult to call back and sort of have a mind of their own.  But, Chestnut came every time when called.  She would range out pretty far but never lost sight of me.  When I'd call;  she would instantly come back, with a few detours on the way of course.
I still refer to Chestnut as one of the puppies even though she is a year and a half old.  She was born in a litter of pups in the habitat I used to live in.  I remember well the night when at 1AM in the morning I heard the squeaking of little voices over in the corner where I put a big box for Maple, the puppies mom.   All the puppies were adopted over the Summer accept Chestnut and her brother Spruce.  Spruce  went home with the lady I rented from when I brought Chestnut with me here.  It all worked out.  Chestnut is looking and acting more and more like her mother, who had the softest eyes I have ever seen on a dog.  She had the personality to go with those eyes too.

Chestnut's mom, Maple

Chestnut, when a baby
Chestnut is part of my family now and she will want for nothing for the rest of her life.  She is a delight.

I'm glad I thought about bringing a jug of cool water with us for this trip.  There is no water on this property and they were building up a thirst.  I didn't hold any kind of pace today as it wasn't exactly cool out.  The dogs were panting heavily and we would not venture far from the truck.  The water was there if they wanted it.
Chestnut investigated everything and anything.  She has not been out in the fields very often in her life and has not really had the opportunity to become very socialized around people or other dogs really.  But, she'll be going with us frequently now that we're all settled.
Another thing I miss is the song birds.  The old ruins area was full of various song birds.  It was loaded!  I haven't seen a one here.  Maybe I just don't know where to look.  But, I haven't seen the slightest sign of a bird or mammal of any kind today.  I really miss that aspect of the old state park.

Chestnut and Shade are creating a close relationship

Life ends so that life can continue

So, that's our little afternoon outing.  It was time well spent with my girls.  I may pack up the canoe and drive to Indian Boundary Lake or even Calderwood tomorrow.  The weather man is calling for rain.  I'll make a determination in the morning. 
Douglas;  you're not missing anything with Cherokee Lake but, I am.  I'm missing you terribly, sweet golden son.  Terribly!