Common Thread

Common Thread

Andy Dear | Sunday, 9 December 2018

Just outside of the tiny town of Sallis Mississippi, at the corner of County Roads 4127 and 4135 sits a small farm pond. It's not much more than a small depression in the ground, bordered by an earthen dam and a beautiful stand of large pine trees. I would guess that most folks that pass by it don't even give it a second thought, as there is nothing to really distinguish it from all the other farm ponds in the south. To me, however, this small pond, in spite of its lack of uniqueness is special. It's special because it has been one of many threads that have woven a love for fishing through multiple generations of my family. My Great Grandparents settled this piece of land back in the early 1900s. They built a house here, they raised kids here, and as my Great Uncle Clarence "Buck" Dear once said, as farmers, "they barely scratched a living out of the red dirt" here. Perhaps equally as important, is that they also fished here.

During the 1950s my dad would have the privilege of spending his youth wielding a cane pole baited with crickets in this same small pond. Then, twenty odd years later, in the 1970s, it is where I too would eventually feel the flame of my love for fishing being lit and fanned. When I was old enough on our annual visits, I spent as much time as I could chasing the Bream, Bass, and Catfish that called this pond home. Living in Texas, with only a week during the summers to visit my family in Sallis, I didn't get to spend nearly as much time around this little pond as I would have liked.  In a way though, the distance between the two states and the time between trips only served to fuel my desire to spend as much time as I could on its red dirt banks when I was there. 

As they say, the only thing constant in life is change. As I got older and priorities changed, the visits to Mississippi became less frequent and eventually stopped altogether. The property on the side of the pond that my family owned was eventually sold to one of the timber companies. Then, in 2007, the last remaining relative I had that lived in the original family home passed away.

After the birth of my son in 2008, it became especially important to me that he understands his family lineage and history. To that end, my family and I have begun to travel to Mississippi again. Two years ago we made the trip out there and spent a fair amount of time visiting the area I grew up around when I was a young man. As all things do, everything has changed quite a bit.....especially the old pond. The trees have grown up around the front edge now, and the once scenic view is now obscured from the road by the new growth. And like most things from my childhood, it didn't seem nearly as grandiose as it did when I was young.  Later in the trip, on the 700-mile drive home it occurred to me that this small puddle of water had a purpose. A purpose that I'm sure nobody, including me, has thought consciously about. A purpose that went beyond just providing food and recreation for multiple generations of my family.  You see, my interaction with the world below the surface of this small farm pond via a green Shakespeare fishing rod and a Zebco 33 reel completely altered the course and trajectory of my life. It altered it in a way that I doubt the men who built it close to 75 years ago could have ever imagined, much less planned for. I know that it also played a part in shaping the lives of my kinfolk as well, as they too continue to have a deep love and respect for pursuing the creatures that live in the woods and the water. It's a love and respect that is hard to explain any other way, and thankfully we continue to pass that love and respect for fishing down to our kids.

I have plans this spring to take my son fishing at this little pond, this time with a flyrod in hand.  I have no idea if there are still any fish in it or not, but that doesn't matter. This trip is much more about a spiritual journey than it is the catching of any fish. The romantic part of me wants to believe that for most of us that fly fish, every fishing trip is in some way a small part of a much larger spiritual journey. I hope wherever your journey takes you, that at some point along the way you happen upon a special place like the one on the corner of CR4127 and CR4135 in Sallis Mississippi.

Have a great weekend folks,