by Peter Mock-Jordan
Zane Grey once wrote, “if I only fished to capture fish, my fishing trips would have ended long ago.” I have to agree, I feel the same. And it’s not very often that a fishing trip turns into something that exemplifies this point so well. But that´s just what happened this past weekend when my friend Taylor Culbreth, the Noah Bear Dog, and I drove up to the Birmingham area. We were in route for me to speak at the Cahaba River Society’s annual Fry Down about fly-fishing on the Cahaba River, something that isn’t very hard to get me to do. Now before I get into the adventure we had, let me first tell you a bit about the Cahaba River Society and the Fry Down.
The Cahaba River Society is an organization that is committed to preserving the Cahaba River and ensuring clean drinking water for the people of the Birmingham area. Since they launched their CLEAN program in 1996 they have helped to get more than 17,500 people involved in hands-on projects on their local rivers. Not to mention that they also work with multiple government organizations to protect our natural resources, especially the Cahaba River. These folks really do work very hard on every playing field to preserve one of our state’s most beautiful resources.
The Fry Down itself is their largest annual fundraiser. And if like fried fish, grilled fish, hush puppies, coleslaw, and live music then this is the place for you. They hold it at Trussville Springs in Trussville, Alabama. The location lines the river bank so ,not only does it provide great food and tunes but, the Cahaba River Society uses this area as an opportunity to get kids into the river. They can be a part of a ton of activities that get the kids soaking wet. Needless to say they love it! Make sure that you mark this event on your calendar for next year if you didn’t make it this year, because the whole family will love it. It was the best way I found all weekend to spend $20.
Now to the “adventure”, as we rode to Trussville Springs the day before the Fry Down, we met up with a group of volunteers and members of the Cahaba River Society. We then began working to help them get ready for the event. Finally as all the work was winding down we left to find some lunch. As we rode out we saw a few deep pools in the river where the Fry Down was to be held at. Now before coming to help out, we had resolved to get some fishing done that day. Needless to say it took us about two seconds to decide that we would be coming right back after lunch to fish that stretch of the river.
After Lunch we came back to the Fry Down site and walked down stream along the path at the Trussville Springs. As we rounded the bend we were greeted with a small stream angler’s paradise. It was like walking out of a city park and into the back country in a matter of a few steps. With-in just a couple seconds after hopping into the Cahaba and fishing I was rewarded with a nice blue gill on the fly. After he was released, Taylor and I began to work our way up stream with Noah happily swimming along behind as we waded along.
As we made the bend along a rock wall I cast my Clouser Minnow into an eddie and WHAM! I was hooked up with a very nice Cahaba spotted bass. As I brought my fish to hand, Taylor hooked and landed a nice spot just ahead of Noah and I. We spent the rest of the day fishing and had a great time. So keep in mind that the Cahaba around the Ham is far from dead thanks to the efforts of people like the Cahaba River Society. Give the river a chance, you will likely be surprised by what nails your offering.
The next day we broke camp and headed to Trussville Springs to join in all the fun after camping at Oak Mountain the night before. We set up our fly-tying vices and the rest of our display and waited for the fun to begin. The event started at 11am that Sunday morning and got underway slowly. But as soon as church let out in town, the people really started to roll in. Before you knew it the bands were starting up, the Fry Down teams were cooking and kids were laughing and playing in the river. We were able to hang out and talk with a lot of folks that came by our tent. We gave casting lessons for the folks that wanted to give it a go and even took the time for an impromptu casting seminar. And guys I’m happy to say, the food was amazing. It was a great thing to be a part of and we were happy to help.
After the Fry Down we packed up our gear and loaded the truck. As we drove out we spotted one last pool on the river. Needless to say, we just had to stop and fish that too. As we fished I thought of the work that groups like the Cahaba River Society does and how it affects so many people. I then remembered the words of John Muir who said that, “when one tugs on a single thing in nature, one finds it attached to the rest of the world.” Those words fit the day.