I never know where my next idea for a posting is likely to come from. This one is from a comment I added to a column I read regularly on a bass fishing web page I frequent.
Ken Duke, Senior Editor with B.A.S.S. posed the simple question to one of the many audio-video technicians working for B.A.S.S. while having lunch one day.
If you could watch any sporting event in history, what would it be? The technician responded with the first Super Bowl between Green Bay and Kansas City. I guess the fact that the individual was/is a die hard Packers fan may have swayed his decision.
One of the few times, Ken was caught off guard as he was asked the same question in conversation.
Being the avid bass fisherman that Ken is, he kept his selection to a top 3, with the number 1 slot going to the day that George Perry caught the world record bass in Georgia. A record that has stood for better than 77 years since Mr.Perry boated the 22 pound 4 ounce bass in June of 1932.
As I scanned my memory of an event in history and keeping to the lines of my favorite past time of bass fishing, I stumbled upon a slightly different event.
Not one of actual fishing, but the beginning of a historical landmark.
Sam Rayburn Dam & Reservoir.
Or as I like to refer to it as simply, Big Sam.
Lake Sam Rayburn is the largest man-made lake that is situated completely inside the boundaries of the great State of Texas. Named after the political giant known through his tenure as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Samuel T. Rayburn.
My dad moved us to Jasper, TX in the early part of 1965 as I was finishing 5th grade. Little did I know of the event taking place a few short miles northwest of Jasper and the role it would play in the shaping of my life.
Going back to the main topic of this article, I would have loved to seen and document the Angelina River creeping along, leaving its banks and laying claim to the surrounding rural area. Timberland, hay fields, roadbeds, creeks, and homesteads to name a few. To visualize the humps and drop offs the flooding would produce along the miles of shoreline.
There are several places around Big Sam that anglers refer to as landmarks. One that comes to mind is a set of 40 plus year old concrete steps that led up to and inside an old country church. We call this place simply, 'church steps', and depending upon the lake level at the time of any given day, will it be determined if Big Sam will let you see the actual steps of long ago.
I can only imagine the white clap board building, standing on the top of the rising knoll as the faithful members made their way to congregate and celebrate their Easter Sunday sunrise services of so many years ago, because today, the sunrise from this point looking east...is just fabulous. From the front of the church the landscape was a rolling valley down to the river and up to the now far side of the lake itself.
The actual 'deliberate impoundment' of water began in March, 1965 and initially reached the full pool level sometime the next year in 1966.
Big Sam has a mystical draw on me still today. The sights and sounds are truly nature at its finest.
I have seen deer playing near the waters edge. Caught glimpses of otters playing along the shallow water near their home. Photographed alligators sunning themselves on a hump of dry ground in the secluded backwaters of coves.
Watching our National Bird stand watch over his feeding ground. The bald eagle is a treasure in itself. Strong and unmatched in beauty. Majestic and proud. An American symbol of liberty and freedom.
Being able to have and enjoy the freedom of catching the early morning sunrise over the pines as the sun's rays stretch to reach the smooth as glass lake surface, as you clear the end of your cove to turn your boat towards your favorite morning fishing hole.
An osprey dives to take his breakfast from the lake.
The fishing has begun, and I think back to the morning in 1965 that my brother and I drove along the unpaved surface of the earthen levee that runs over 17,000 feet along the south end of the lake...looking out over what level of water there was to see. Not quite knowing the effect the lake would have on me and how life would bring me back to Big Sam.
Yeah, that would of been something to see, don't you think?