White Oak Mountain Ranger: Horneyheads

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

I think the reason I’m probably drawn to this particular fish is because of the name. It takes me back to a time around my 15th to 17th year and it’s without a doubt synonymous with my entire psyche during that decade.

 

I’d bet money that if you could get the young ladies that I pestered in those days to be truthful they’d all say without much hesitancy and a big blush; “Yep, that pretty much describes the pimple faced kid we all ran from!”

 

Nocomis biguttaus (Horneyhead) actually have horns adorning their heads.

Not many fish around here can be found with horns. Horns make the trophy, just ask the guy that shoots spikes every year.

 

I noticed that the TWRA fishing guide refers to them as Central Stonerollers with Horneyhead in parenthesis. They even list a 10 oz.’er as a state record, caught by a Mr. Roy S. King in 1983 in the Hiwassee River.

 

Think of that, a state record, a horned fish, that has been not been challenged since 1983!

 

Only two other state record fish came from that particular river, an 85 lbs.15 oz. Flathead in 1993, and a 1lb. 4oz. Mooneye landed in 2005.

 

That’s two heads and an eye for one river, metaphorically speaking.

 

I’ll freely admit that I had to lookup the Mooneye and after seeing what it looked like and seeing the metallic shine in their eyes, I have a little bit of a problem thinking that anyone would even consider taking that shad looking thing to a scale in order to apply for record book status.

 

But they did, and the rest is immortality for the fisherman who recognized greatness in this particular fish catch. I probably would have thrown a new state record up on the bank for the coons and possums to feast on.

 

When it comes to Horneyheads, I’ll swear on a stack of salmon eggs that I’ve released more than one state record Horneyhead in my early days of learning to trout fish. Those were the days when it was politically correct to fish for trout with a gob of red worms. Fly rods were for Bluegills and the willow fly hatch back then.

 

That was a time when I just didn’t recognize the state record potential of a good sized Horneyhead. In those early days of trout fishing; Chubs and Horneyheads were notorious for cleaning my hooks of worms and or, salmon eggs; thereby robbing me of the decent chance at fried trout over an open fire.

 

Now, suddenly with the revelation that a record from 1983 needs to be shattered, it’s become time in my fleeting piscatorial career to add a new milestone fish to the bucket list. Forget bass and perch and crappie records and Tennessee Angler Recognition Programs (TARPS), I’m on a quest of epic proportions.

 

Imagine the fame, the glory, the sponsorships and your name in the bright lights that befall the angler that shows up at some scale with anything over 10 ounces of a strong, scaly Horneyhead.

 

King of the Horneyheads! Sound good?

 

While researching my new quest for state record Horneyheads, I stumbled on Newborn Georgia’s Horneyhead Fish Festival. It seems that the folks down in Newborn have been hosting a festival for Horneyheads for 30 plus years every April. Their celebration comes complete with a parade, music and good fun.

 

The Newborn Horneyhead Festival even has a catchy little theme song and the Festival website credits “The fabulous Johnny Roquemore, neighbor and winner of Creative Loafing”s Best Singer/Songwriter and the Georgia Music Industry Association’s “ Best of Country “ award.

 

The song was premiered at the festival in 2012. If you are a serious Horneyhead aficionado, I strongly suggest you load this riveting theme song on your play list.

 

In addition to an award winning festival theme song, the huge event includes a parade, good eats, big prizes, the crowning of a Horneyhead Queen and a fishing tournament Champion.

 

A quick review of Georgia Freshwater fish records does not include Horneyheads or Mooneyes. Apparently the Peach State DNR does not consider them as worthy of piscatorial glory or recognition like we do in the Volunteer State! This is truly another decent reason to declare another sad state of affairs for Georgia.

 

The 2021 champ weighed in a 6.5 incher with nine horns on the biggest tournament Horneyhead.

 

I imagine being crowned Horneyhead Queen is much more of a resume builder than bragging about a 6.5 inch, 9 horned Central Stoneroller. I mean having 9 horns on a head is pretty impressive, but who knows how that stacks up to being crowned Miss Horneyhead Festival? Who knows? It’s Georgia after all.

 

I’m glad Tennessee hasn’t seen the need for merchandizing Horneyheads yet. At least I’ve not heard of such frivolity up near Reliance. Maybe being crowned Queen of a Horneyhead festival just doesn’t have the same level of appeal to young ladies up here in our corner of the state?

 

So, the 4wt.-10 ft. Horneyhead custom signature rod is all tuned up with new 2lb. test and the red worms and dough balls are curing in their secret recipe. Like all piscatorial gladiators in search of a new impressive state record, I’m sitting on GO and experiencing sleepless nights.

 

The last Horneyhead potential state record I released was somewhere about three to five miles above the powerhouse on the Hiwassee. I’ll gladly share my honey hole with you but beware, it’s snake infested and about as remote and lonely as Polk County gets. This stretch of the river is prime hunting grounds for the new state record Horneyhead. I’ll almost guarantee more than a measly 9 horns on the head of these elusive trophies in this stretch of the river.

 

If you find yourself bored with fishing for Horneyheads, try spring lizards for the Smallmouth bass that cohabitate with the big Stonerollers. Smallmouth fight much better than even a state record Horneyhead, but the state record Smallmouth record has stood since 1955.

 

One last thought. Would you be bragging if you said you once dated Miss Horneyhead?

 


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