Fishing in the Hiwassee River with Pap

Tipper sitting on Pap's lap

Tipper sitting with Pap; Steve on the couch

I’m the only girl Pap and Granny had. I’m sandwiched between the two best brothers in the entire world.

Pap took the boys fishing fairly often and I usually played a part in the day too…but not in the way you might think.

I’d beg and plead to go fishing with the boys. I’d promise to be patient and not want to come home because I got bored or tired of fighting the bugs and briars.

Most of the time Pap gave in to my pleading even though he knew well and good my promises were false and as soon as I tired of playing around the river I’d be asking if it was time to go home every other minute.

Even though I was a pain in their backside I have good memories of those times fishing with Pap and my brothers.

Pap loved to tell about the time Paul caught a big carp and I got so excited I picked Paul up pole and all and started running up the bank to the woods to make sure he got the fish pulled in. I can still see the way Pap’s eyes would twinkle when he told that story.

Most of the time Pap fished either just below or just above where Brasstown Creek flows into the Hiwassee River. If we were on the river side Pap made sure to listen close in case they let water off to generate power at an unusual time.

One trip that especially stands out in my mind was farther down the river than Pap usually fished, much closer to Murphy than Brasstown. Now that I look back through the years I realize we were near the place Pap was born when his parents sharecropped on the Harshaw Farm. 

As usual after we’d been there a while I started whining to go home. Pap enticed me to stay a little longer and go with him farther down the river. He found a large sandbar to perch on. There was a pool of water between the bar and the bank. Since the secluded area was away from the moving waters and wasn’t very deep it made the perfect place for me to play. Pap let me get in clothes and all. I was fascinated by the shiny sand and the millions of round smooth rocks and when it came time to go home that day—I didn’t even want to go.

I’ll always look back fondly on the days Pap let me come too. I’ll always remember how safe I felt riding on his back as he stomped down the briars and weeds to make me a place to play beside the river.


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  • Reply
    April 18, 2021 at 7:31 pm

    Wonderful memories! You do such a good job of ‘painting’ pictures with words!
    The precious memories I have with my dad were when he took me with him to milk the one or two cows. Singing funny songs kept me entertained.

  • Reply
    April 17, 2021 at 10:16 pm

    I can just picture you picking Paul and pole up and heading toward those woods I’ve done some funny stuff when I was visiting the farm where my cousins lived that they never let me forget …. I do remember well what it felt like to want to go with …. ❣️

  • Reply
    Gina Smith
    April 17, 2021 at 8:23 pm

    My best Dad memories are the times we spent fishing on Lake Mead in southern Nevada. Special time together for sure. I miss him as much as you miss your Pap.

  • Reply
    April 17, 2021 at 11:55 am

    My Daddy taught me and my brother to fish, and every year when Daddy took his vacation, we went fishing. I still love to fish, and I like to crab, too. The photo is priceless, Tipper, with your hair in rollers. Mama used to roll up my hair on these soft rubber curlers every Saturday night so I would have curls for church on Sunday.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    April 17, 2021 at 11:38 am

    Tipper, I enjoyed your memories and as usual it brought back some of my own memories. As a small boy Mom and Dad took the family on a picnic to a beautiful stream here in E.KY. called (Kinniconick). It was late summer and the water was way down but with many pot holes. Looking with young boy eyes I have never seen so many large fish trapped in those holes. The fish may not have been big ones but they sure looked big at the time. After growing up I have fished (Kinnikinnick), spelled two ways, and caught smallmouth bass and rockbass. The last time I was there I almost got copperhead bit. The creek was so full of mussels at one time there was a button factory there that made buttons from their shells.

  • Reply
    April 17, 2021 at 11:22 am

    What a precious, precious memory and I’m so glad you took us all along on that memory trip. I think God has these special good memories unfold like pages your mind displays for you and they just bring warmth and a loved feeling. Your Daddy was a special man. I laughed out loud and could just visualize you trying to carry Paul and his big Catfish – pole and all:}

  • Reply
    Darrell Keith Cook
    April 17, 2021 at 9:44 am

    I have fond memories of the Harshaw Farm. Like your folks we farmed the land for several years. The farm is over two miles by the river and I remember that from the barn one can barely see a tractor at the far end of the property. We fished also, but caught mainly carp and “water dogs.” The “water dogs” look like large lizards- maybe 9-12 inches long with rows of sharp teeth. I really enjoy your blog. Thanks Tipper

  • Reply
    April 17, 2021 at 9:25 am

    I loved to go fishing in the creek behind our house when I was young. It was a small creek with slow moving water. Dad never took us fishing because there was not a large body of water anywhere close by. The Big Sandy River was the closest and and my parents were scared to death we would drown if we got close. Dad was present and assisted with the tragic bus crash in The Big Sandy River that took the life of nearly thirty children in the late 50s. His fear of water was for a good reason.
    Later in life, it was me that was taking him fishing. Those are some wonderful memories I will never forget.

  • Reply
    Sherry Whitaker
    April 17, 2021 at 9:14 am

    Thanks for stirring up the memories, Tipper. I remember doing the same….begging to go fishing with my daddy. It would be 10 years before my brother was born & after another daughter came till Daddy had a boy to take fishing! He had to suffer through trying to keep me entertained so he could fish. He would let me play with his pocket knife or play with the minnows he used for bate. We would go down to the Clinch River most of the time. It was very beautiful. Years later, my husband pastored a small church there & he baptized folks in that same river & it was icy cold!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 17, 2021 at 8:35 am

    You needn’t feel like you were especially bad about impatience. As we all know, it is just a childhood trait. Not many children can entertain themselves for an extended time. The secret was that Pap would rather spend (invest) time with his kids than catch fish anyway. Fish, if any, were a bonus. As a parent yourself now, you know all that of course. How we miss the little people out children were. We never did spend enough time with them because we never could. In the end I guess, the best we can do is let them know that’s how we feel about it. I miss mine and always will. But your post today shows Pap accomplished what he meant to. And I am sure both you and the Deer Hunter have as well.

    • Reply
      April 17, 2021 at 10:19 am

      How insightful!

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    April 17, 2021 at 8:19 am

    Wasn’t there one time when someone you know got arrested for fishing on the Nantahala without a license 😉 ?

    • Reply
      April 17, 2021 at 9:45 am


    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      April 17, 2021 at 9:42 pm

      Arrested? I’ve never heard of anyone being arrested for a fishing violation! Who was the arresting officer? I know wildlife officers like to show out sometimes but as far as arresting someone I never heard of that.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    April 17, 2021 at 8:14 am

    Love the family stories.

  • Reply
    Donna M Wood
    April 17, 2021 at 7:28 am

    I love this story right our of your childhood.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 17, 2021 at 7:17 am

    Pap was the best man I ever knew. He was a true man, true to his beliefs and his God, I believe that to be a very big statement and a very true statement. He was both gentle and strong!
    He loved his God and he loved hid family!

  • Reply
    Buz Salmon
    April 17, 2021 at 6:13 am

    Thank you Tipper by sharing your memories you give me so much! You make my life just a little brighter. Buz

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