Written by: David Grossman, Southern Culture On the Fly
I have been a part of many river clean-ups. Usually, we pick up trash from along the banks and everyone goes home content—knowing that a darker pile of garbage was left in the river and will be there the next time we come back. The tires that inhabit way too large a number of our Southern waterways seem immovable and endless. They stay there for decades. We Southerners learn to mark fish by certain tires—as in “The big one is behind the third tire down, fifth from the right” sort of thing.
The Orvis “Get The Tread Out” Campaign was conceived at the Orvis Eastern Guide Rendezvous last February. Last week—with the help of Orvis, Mountain Sports Ltd., Sweetwater Brewing, Southern Culture On the Fly magazine, and a lot of other fine folks—a group of more than 30 intrepid fly-fishing garbagemen (and women) got the tread out. . .literally. The South Holston River is down 300 tires, and I feel awesome about it.
We armed ourselves with homemade gaffs, grappling hooks, and good old-fashioned mushroom anchors. Backs were strained, boats were dirtied, and a difference was made. Three hundred tires, two sidewalk newspaper boxes, a broken toilet with the bathroom floor still attached, a TV from the 1970s (as evidenced by the dial), and one super creepy doll head was our bounty. This giant pile of refuse is no longer in the river, and it only took a day. Who knows? We might be able to clean every tire out of the river in a week? Two weeks? A month? Whatever that period of time may be, it’s not forever and eternity. Just because the tires have been there since you or I have been fishing the river doesn’t mean it has to stay that way for generations to come. All it takes is a boat and someone willing to get themout.
Thank you to Orvis, E. Mountain Sports Ltd., Sweetwater Brewing, and especially to all the people who put theirbacks and boats into really cleaning up the South Holston that fine day. Thank you for the amazing sense of accomplishment and mindset that we don’t have to live with it anymore.
David Grossman is Editor and Publisher of the online magazine Southern Culture On the Fly.