Thursday, April 25, 2019

Fishing with a Preacher, By Mickey Brackett April 2019

          The largest body of water running through Golden Valley North Carolina is the First Broad River. This mountain stream meanders through the valley requiring several bridges that allow automobile traffic to flow uninterrupted across the river today.

          This river has provided opportunities for many activities such as swimming, church baptisms, car washing, farm animal watering holes, irrigation, gold panning, sand dredging, and fishing. As a young boy my brothers and neighbor friends would spend hours bank fishing for catfish into the night using only candle light. As children a hot summer Sunday afternoon swim was always a treat. Our hard-working daddy always treasured his Sunday afternoon naps. A swim in the river required daddy to take us and protect us from drowning. The trick was to wake him up early enough from his nap before chore time but not too early which would guarantee anger and no swimming in the river. Through the years the state or others have dredged river sand and piled it up along the river bank to be used by the highway department or others to spread on washed out roadbeds. Our family hauled many pickup loads of sand from these piles through the years to fill ruts and dips in the steep dirt driveway up to our house. The Golden Valley name comes from gold being found in the rivers and streams decades ago. People still pan or dredge for gold in the First Broad River today seeking gold nuggets or gold dust.
Up the Golden Valley Church Road past the Roy Fortune homeplace and before you reach the Cleveland (Cle) Rollins homeplace is a narrow turnoff into the river which our family always referred to this as the ford. In past generations before public highway bridges were built those traveling through Golden Valley would ford the river at this location. On the opposite side of the river is the farm known as the Creed Fortune homeplace. This farm was settled in the early 1700’s by my ancestors many of which are buried in the family cemetery on the farm. The old log cabin on the farm is still standing and is where my brother David and I were born in the early 1950’s during the time daddy was farming with help from the GI bill after WWII. I’m sure daddy and our ancestors crossed the river at the ford many times at the place where I fished with the preacher.
          Preacher Seay served First Broad Baptist church for several years when I was a young boy living in Golden Valley. His family lived in the church parsonage across from the church which was approximately a mile from the First Broad River ford place. The river always had cold water which was ideal for trout. The state wildlife department would stock the river yearly trying to establish a good population of river trout. Often the trout fishing season would start one day after the river was stocked with new trout. On season opening day fisherman would almost line the banks or be wading in the cold water easily catching these newly released fish. During one of these early fishing season days I had walked from home with my fishing gear and bait to fish at the ford. Being under age 16 a fishing license was not required. I found the fish and caught several trout which I hooked onto a stringer which was tied to a small tree on one end and the fish were lowered into the cold water on the other end. Later the fish would be taken home and eaten. Suddenly Preacher Seay walked up and wanted to do some fishing. The action had slowed in the spot I had caught the fish but I allowed him to stay there at the stringer and throw where I had just been fishing. I walked downstream and tried another hole. While baiting his hook between casts a North Carolina game warden walked up to the preacher and started talking. Realizing that he had no fishing license he had two choices. One, he could lay down the fishing rod and say those are not my fish on the end of that stringer and go home. Or two, cast the bait into the river and take the consequences.  Being a man of faith, he took choice number 2, the honest route, and cast the line into the water which immediately required the game warden’s request to see his fishing license. With no license in his pocket the game warden issued a violation ticket. The saddest part was he had caught no fish to lessen his troubles. I admired the preacher’s honesty and never forgot the lesson he taught on the river bank that day.

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