Fishing for Salmon in mid-January is not fun at all for Salmon. In the long cold charm of North Alabama that I had seen for decades, I was sitting in a boat in the middle of the Tennessee River, freezing my feet.
Jack the Salmon, in fact the Saugers, seem to bite harder on the coldest and coldest days of winter as they begin to climb upwards. This is the time of year when they gather under river dams. I know for sure that there are a lot of Saugers in the tail waters of Guntersville, Wheeler and Wilson, because I've caught many of those waters.
Although the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has dams in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia, I know little about Jack Salmon, who stumbled across the Alabama Alley and currently resides in Tennessee.
Especially this morning I was trying to pour coffee from Thermos into my cup without softening my bait, and I was trying to avoid messing my line under the bottom of my boat. At the end of the line was an ounce of big blue and graphical mess, mined with a medium-sized building.
We were about 2 miles from Guntersville Dam near the mouth of the Paint Rock River. The hole was a little high, but not enough to hunt. As we were hunting for a place to start running, we counted 26 boats anchored at points where they were catching fish.
Most of the fishermen used the same type of bait that I used and they were fishing from 35 to 40 feet deep. Every few minutes, one of those boats brought in Jack, weighing about one to three pounds. Alabama's record was over five pounds, on the same kind of bait that I used.
I remember the first Sauger I caught when I was a kid. My uncle Grady, along with my mother, was fishing under the Guntersville Dam, under the wall that separated the turbines from the floods. Droplets hit us in the face as the wind blew through the fog on our faces.
I don't remember the month, but I can still see the 12-year-old boy scattering in the cold and trying to pretend he doesn't freeze. My anxiety only lasted for a few minutes, because we immediately started catching fish and forgetting about the cold. They seem to have caught any fish before. They were in the form of cigarettes or torpedoes, with large brown spots on each side. They also had a sharp-edged needle. My uncle used to say that Jack Salmon is the best fish in the river. He was right.
We used live minuses weighing two ounces to bait where the fish were kept near the dam wall. Back in those days, we didn't use baskets of fish to hold our grip, but a few hours later our tangled liquid was filled, and we were left out of the bait.
Over the years, I have had many fishing for Sager, a member of an extreme family. Sometimes I was lucky and some I caught, sometimes I wasn't. If you can stand up to the elements and really want to catch these fish, head to the Tennessee River in Alabama. Three of you will find Salmon underneath one of these three large dams.