This 10lb 3oz large mouth bass was caught by Mike Dunn from Harrison on tuesday the 26th of August. It was caught in a private lake off Hwy. 60 on a 6in Yum artifical worm. I David Gladden witnessed and weighed the catch on a Berkley digital scale. My daytime phone number is 423 298 1563 call before 1:50pm
By Richard Simms,firstname.lastname@example.org
Nearly everyone is familiar with “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” the journey of Huck and his friend Jim, a runaway slave, down the Mississippi River on their raft. Written by Mark Twain, it is a classic among all American literature — but it is fiction.
The Adventures of Andy Mayfield on the other hand, are all very true.
Mayfield and his dog Doug, are traveling via 14-foot jon boat and 25-horsepower motor from Knoxville to Mobile Bay in Alabama, about 900 river miles via the Tombigbee Waterway.
“I’ve always wanted to do it,” Mayfield said. “It’s interesting that you can get there from here.”
Last Friday morning it was 24 degrees as Mayfield pounded through 2-foot waves driven by 15 mph north wind, struggling to make his way into Chickamauga Marina. The wind child made it hard to hold a camera for a few seconds, much less a tiller handle for hours on end.
Camping on deserted islands in the river, battling near-record low temperatures, churning along through high winds and waves, Mayfield is on an adventure that many outdoorsmen dream about, but few will ever actually do it.
Mayfield, 28, works for the Flagstaff (Arizona) Hotshots — a group of forest firefighters. The official fire season is March thru the first of November. With time off from a grueling job, this was Mayfield’s window of opportunity.
He began his trip 11 days ago at the “Forks of the River,” the official beginning of the Tennessee River near Knoxville. A friend intended to travel with him however after an hour on the river, they realized it was simply too much weight for the vessel and his friend reluctantly had to bow out.
Mayfield obviously enjoys the outdoors and wants to enjoy it along the way.
“I’ve been fishing too much,” he said with a smile.
One of his first nights on Watts Bar his efforts were rewarded with a 33-pound catfish.
He figured out however that sometimes he was going to have to put the fishing rods down.
While Mobile Bay is his official destination, Mayfield had hoped to be able battle the waves of the open sea and cross into the Intracoastal Canal and travel the additional 200 miles to Apalachicola to spend Thanksgiving with his family.
“That’s just flat out not going to happen right now,” Mayfield said. “I guess I could just run wide-open and get down there but that’s not much of a trip if you ask me — just cold, rough and wet.
“I’m going to have to make sure the family is clear that I won’t be there for Thanksgiving and figure out where my Dad can leave my truck and trailer until I get there,” he said.
Mayfield is using a wireless-equipped laptop to provide an online journal for Southern Sporting Journal magazine.
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There has been a time lag and slow postings due to logistics, or perhaps difficulties in the field. Plus part of the reason for such a trip is the chance to put aside “schedules.” Mayfield was reluctant to set a specific time for a meeting at Chickamauga Marina, and arrived late with good reason.
“I’d have been here on time if my boat hadn’t been full of water,” he said pulling toward the dock. “That wind really kicked in last night and waves were crashing over the transom. There just always seems to be something I get into that slows me down.”
Mayfield’s family was especially concerned when his friend had to bow out.
“They definitely wish there were two people,” he said. “But I’ve grown up on the water with them. I’m a good swimmer, an Eagle Scout plus working for the forest service and living in the woods — being miserable is part of that job.”
Mayfield definitely has safety in mind. He bought a brand new 2.5 horsepower “kicker” outboard in case his primary motor breaks down.
With water temperatures in the low 50’s, falling in can kill a person in 30 minutes to an hour, even if they don’t drown. The dangers seemed all too real as Mayfield passed through the Dayton area and watched crews searching the river for a fisherman who went missing Nov. 14.
“I have a special set of clothes in a dry bag along with dryer lint, cedar shavings, and lighters where if a I fall in, I can get a fire going real quick and change immediately into my dry clothes,” he said.
His dog Doug is his only companion, which he says isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“Doug never talks back to me, although he howls at the deer a little bit,” he said.
It is not Huck Finn and Jim drifting along on the mighty Mississippi. In this day and age however, it is and exciting journey that most people would either loathe, or perhaps dream of doing themselves.
“Yea, I’ve been having a blast,” he said. “I know it’s cold and wet but hey, it’s November.”