in an effort to satisfy my springtime urge for catching and eating white bass, i headed over to Rock Island State Park south of Sparta, TN. it was rumoured to have a great white bass run and indeed the water looked most hospitable! i fished for an hour or so without so much as a bump and began to have doubts about my ability with a spinning reel (i have NO such doubts with a fly-rod). i eventually ran into a couple guys who told me that, although years ago Rock Island had an awesome springtime white bass run where they caught "hundreds and thousands" of white bass, the white bass run hasn't come off in years. it is "over". when i asked how and why would something like a white run with millions of fish could suddenly stop they had no answer. i will go to the crossville wildlife office and inquire further. i was really sad to learn about this.
the good news is, there are apparently lots of walleye and a decent crappie run which started last week. both guys i talked to had caught between 10-20 crappie on monday before the cool front passed through and "put em down". so, i fully intend to try again next week. the rule of thumb is that the crappie run starts with the redbuds and ends when the dogwoods bloom. we'll see. crappie and walleye are the only two fish i prefer to eat over and above white bass, so there is hope (as long as i can catch them!). it's also safe to eat fish from Rock Island State Park, which is basically Center Hill Reservoir fed by the Collins and Caney Fork Rivers which join forces directly above the dam which you pass entering the Park. according to the locals and friend JimB, the way to fish here is to take a big headed jig (1/4-3/8 oz) jig with a curly tail (white or chartreuse), through it out on the bottom, and jig it back. i tried this, lost about 10 jigs on the rocks, and expressed doubts to one old timer. he said, "if you're not losing alot of jigs on the rocks, you're not fishing deep enough. there's just not biting today is all, don't get discouraged." he certainly wasn't, and just shrugged off the lack of fish. easy for him to to...he caught 17 crappie on monday.
i did alot of exploring and took a few pictures including one bird that followed me for a half hour or so. i think he wondered if i could catch something. otherwise, he was content to stop fishing and merely stand in the sun to warm up. the old textile mill in one of the pictures dates to the civil war era.
i was surprised to meet a group of very friendly kayakers working the outflow of the generating plant. there are two or three kayak outfitters when one follows "powerhouse road" which i was lucky to find just cruising the area. also, the little market at the intersection prior to the Park is rumoured to have an excellent breakfast and coffee for a most reasonable price. it's also the best place to get a local fishing report.