Appalachia

Lizard Fishing

“When we lived on Tucker Branch, me and Harold started to go lizard fishing. I was about 4 and Harold was about 6, but we had talked the adventure up the day before so we were pretty reved up.

First we had to dig some redworms, Harold got the maddock and I carried the bucket. We were getting worms like crazy when I saw a nice one. Harold had done drawn back and I was determined to get that redworm. The red stuff just flew, Harold had konked me in the head. 

We went inside to get fixed and Mama grabbed a handkerchief out of John’s mouth and put it on my head. Buster was out on the porch, fixin’ to fire off a sideload. It had two fuzes and I stepped behind Mama to wait for the commotion to stop.

After all this, me and Harold went and laid down on the bridge over Tucker Creek that Daddy had built and started fishin’ for lizards. We had taken straight pins from t-shirts that Daddy and Mama had got us to make hooks for the Lizards. They’d bite just about anything, but they really liked redworms. Just thinking about that makes my chest sore.”

—Ken Roper 2019


Tipper

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9 Comments

  • Reply
    Tamela
    May 22, 2021 at 6:38 pm

    I can just imagine the eagerness of 2 little boys setting out for and adventure. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Ruth Binder
    May 22, 2021 at 5:26 pm

    Catching lizards sounds like fun – actually catching anything sounds like fun! I grew up in the city and, even though we went fishing occasionally, and I would catch a fish or two, I’ve always enjoyed being near creeks, streams and ponds. When I finally got down to Florida, as an adult, I was thrilled to see all the wildlife there. Wish I could have grown up in Appalachia!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    May 22, 2021 at 11:54 am

    Tipper–A high school classmate of mine, Maxine Freeman Skelton, with whom I’ve stayed in touch says that catching lizards much like Ken describes (fishing for ’em) was an important source of income for her family when she was a child. They sold them to bait shops. She even describes the practice in a book she recently edited bringing together her mother’s memoirs and other written material, “Everybody Has a Story.”

    I “hunted” lizards a lot as a kid, selling them for bait, but that was turn over rocks, scramble like crazy, and grab one when you could approach which was doubtless far less efficient.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Shirl
    May 22, 2021 at 9:11 am

    Ken, your story paints a beautiful picture of two little boys and their adventure. I was never successful at catching much of anything with a safety pin and mom’s sewing thread while I starred at the water below the bridge and waited.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 22, 2021 at 9:03 am

    I tried lizard fishing a time or two in Wiggins Creek but never caught a thang. There must be a trick to it that I don’t know about because I heard of people catching bunches of them that way. Crawdad fishing was the same way. Fish fishing wasn’t much better. Not in Wiggins Creek.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    May 22, 2021 at 8:08 am

    I learned something. Never went lizard fishing. We never thought of it or we would have. What we did do was minnow fish. We used a little #12 or #14 hook one, I forget, anyway the smallest one. We fished in little branches about 5 or 6 feet wide and caught a lot of minnows. It was just fishing fun so we turned them loose. We did discover there were surprisingly large minnows in those little creeks. We could use a little twig for a floater. It was the kind of fishing where we could carry everything in our pocket.

    • Reply
      Randy
      May 22, 2021 at 1:25 pm

      Ron, some of the happiest times of my youth was fishing for minnows or horny heads in a small creek like you describe. If the minnows got big enough to be about 3 inches long they would have bumps on their heads, this is the reason we called them horny heads. I have used hooks made from small safety pins but never tried fishing for spring lizards.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    May 22, 2021 at 7:35 am

    Miss Cindy is right. There is something great about nature and how it can bring peace to your life.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 22, 2021 at 6:59 am

    Now thats real life, thank you Ken! Most kids don’t spend much time outside like we did when we were kids. An exception to that is Chitter and Chatter, they have always spend time outside discovering the world of nature and as adults they still enjoy the out of doors. It’s a family thing for them.
    When I was a kid we lived in several different states and with every move I would find the woods and creek and that was where I spent time, even then I knew that it nurtured my soul to commune with nature.

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