By clicking “Accept Cookies”, you are accepting our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, and allowing all cookies to give you the best experience possible while on our website. Please click “Accept Cookies” to continue to use our site.

I Am Not Originally from Tennessee

Posted by Mike Cheatham on Mar 20th 2019

I Am Not Originally from Tennessee

I am not originally from Tennessee. I was born in Georgia and ended here after my family moved to Virginia and Alaska before we stopped moving. In my early twenties, I was in Georgia for a few months….Chattanooga for a few years (mom was from Lookout Mountain and dad from Ducktown by the Ocoee)…then I came back to where I will always call home, Clarksville…and I have no plans to leave.

I live about a mile from where I grew up, on the same bluff I ran as a kid. Just across the Cumberland River, just out of sight of the town…I still walk the river bottoms I loved to walk in my teens, still walk along the railroad tracks that lead to everywhere. I can walk to the Catfish House or to Paul and Jackie’s diner (some of you will know what I am talkin’ about!). The place I wrecked my first car is almost in sight, the place where I had my second wreck…across the street from the first one…is now gone, replaced by the road I live on. I still pass friends I played with at the store up the road. And every morning, I cross the river that has held my fascination since the day we moved to Tennessee.

Just down the road – now permanently posted “No Trespassing” (maybe it was then)…is a place I knew as Norris Pond where I caught my first bass on a spinner bait I took out of my dad’s tackle box, where I caught my first crappie (didn’t even know what they were, but caught a mess with some minnows)…where I spent a day fishing with my sister who passed a few years back, the only time we ever fished; where I learned that a bass will take a crappie off the hook ‘cause I saw it happen on the end of her line! It is the place I learned that worms live under cow pies, and that it didn’t take long to have bait. Within an hour in any direction, I can fish Barkley or Kentucky Lakes; I can kayak the Red, Harpeth, Duck or a large selection of many rivers; I can go a bit farther and fish Center Hill, Old Hickory, Dale Hollow and more! I can travel a few hours and fish the Obey, the Caney Fork…farther east is water I have never seen yet (but I will); go west and there are several lakes…then Pickwick, Reelfoot. Man, I know I have skipped so many great places…the Collins, Tellico, Ocoee, Parksville Lake…Chickamauga, Watts Bar….I will stop…but..

My point; I love living in Tennessee – I love that this is my home. I love having so much water to kayak, to tournament fish or just to explore. And you do not have to do it alone. There are so many kayak groups in Tennessee (find ‘em on Facebook – the KAST groups are below) that even a beginner has no reason to fear getting out or feel that they are alone. A quick search will immediately put you in contact with hundreds of new friends who will welcome you into the community with open arms; all willing to help you to learn to paddle, to pedal, to tournament fish or to just explore and chill!

I personally am very serious about tournament fishing; maybe too serious, but I have learned that just signing up with all of the KAST associated teams across the state has opened the door to share with so many great folks. Even if I had never fished a single tournament (I do fish every single tournament I can!) reaching out to the KAST groups would have allowed me to meet up with folks just getting on the water. Our local group for example, CAKFG, will have members post when and where they are getting out; inviting all who see to come out and join…even if it is your first day on the water; you are welcome.

Maybe I rambled a bit, I have been known to get carried away; some might say I should be carried away, but I absolutely love the kayak community. If you have a kayak, get out with these groups…if you do not, someone will let you borrow one till you get the bug and buy one for yourself. Holler, and I will help you learn how to tournament fish (maybe not catch, but how to measure, photograph and enter your catch)…or just get out and chill. Maybe we can just meet at the Catfish House and get some carrot cake…or a Jackie’s cheeseburger from the diner while we decide where to go! We have too much water, and the seconds we are given are too short not to enjoy this beautiful state!

Y’all come on out.

The Kayak Fishing Groups across Tennessee that makeup K.A.S.T.