It’s the summer of 1953, chores were done and I had just finished listening to the Lone Ranger on our Philco radio. As I opened the back door, I heard Mom’s voice call, “Jim, where are you going,” like she needed to ask, “I’m going to catch Rockies,” I replied.
Life for a 7 year old on the Isle of Que was all about catching Rock Bass. Our boat landing had a private access ramp cut in the riverbank and in the 1950’s there were three coal dredging outfits that operated from access areas located on the Isle of Que. One of these outfits was at our house so at any given time there would be 3 or 4 – 60ft. X 20 ft. coal barges tied up to the loader barge all of which created the perfect home for hundreds of Rock Bass. Hours were spent lying on our bellies on the front deck of the barge drifting a worm on a #6 hook under the barge and waiting for the tap-tap-pull of another rocky. Catching 20 or 30 Rockies, an occasional bass or yellow cat were common for most afternoons at the river.
Swimming would often interrupt our fishing and on occasion 4 or 5 of us kids would see how many Rockies we could catch, which often exceeded 100 fish. Although catch and release was not practiced then we very seldom kept any Rockies, it was almost like they were pets and we knew in a few days we could catch them all over again.
As I got older we would take our wooden flat up to the train bridge and go from one pier to another, fishing for Rockies under the big cut stones dumped to form the base of the bridge piers. By this time in my fishing career, age 10, the 4ft. steel rod that I used to fish with was permanently bent from catching what might have been over a thousand Rockies, mostly the same fish caught over and over again.
Jim Charles Isle of Que River Guides, Owner