Dirt Track Daydreaming

| April 07, 2005

“Boy, was I relaxed in this picture,” he says. “I was just plum worn out. The fish hadn’t been biting, and I’d been out all day. We got back, and my buddy was just wasting film when he took this one. We were up at Reelfoot Lake, and you can see I’m beat. But any day fishing is a great day.”

Coleman drives a Volvo for Nashville-based Western Express and runs all 48. But it’s not your regular Western Express rig. It’s fitted out with the hoist on the fifth wheel, and Coleman goes out to recover broken-down or damaged company trucks and bring them back to Nashville for repair. He hooks up to the drive axles with a special rig and tows the tractor home backwards.

“I go out fishing to enjoy the day,” he says. “I go out for a day of peace and quiet, and that means more to me than catching fish. I get away from the truck and the traffic and people. I go to ‘fishing therapy.’”

But he used to be a much more aggressive fisherman. “I fished bass tournaments, but I quit doing that because I got all stressed out when things weren’t going well,” Coleman says. “All of those boats roaring across the lakes and river at 80 miles an hour – I had one that could do 82 miles an hour. I just got burned out on tournament fishing. That’s why today my boat has a 25-horsepower Evinrude. I don’t need that speed any more. My boat will do maybe 20 miles an hour wide open, but she cruises beautifully at 10 miles an hour, and that’s the way I travel on the water most of the time these days.”

Coleman fishes from a 16-foot aluminum Bass Tracker. “That’s my baby. I love that little ol’ boat. I’ve had it about five years now. I get home off the road, and I just have to go a couple of miles to put it in the Duck River and float out there and relax,” says the Tennessee driver. “People accuse me of being one of the most laid-back individuals they’ve met. But I’ve been at this driving business too long to let things get to me any more.”

Coleman used to hunt, but he gave that up after new hunters came onto the land he was hunting and shot the landowner’s cow and almost shot him and his buddy. “I figured that was a sign, and I gave it up. I love fishing so much that I don’t miss hunting,” he says. And he’ll fish for just about anything – bass, catfish, bream, crappie, trout.

Trout? Coleman usually fishes with a pretty standard spinning rod, but a friend of his ties his own flies, and Coleman took one out to try his luck in a trout stream. “I have a fly rod, but I haven’t mastered it yet. But I asked him to make me a fly, and he came up with one he said would work, and I caught a two-pound trout on it, and that was the biggest day of my fishing life.” The trout went back. Coleman is a catch-and-release guy except for the occasional mess of crappie and bream he’ll keep to filet and deep fry.

When Coleman is home, you can almost certainly find him out on the water, fishing but not fishing. But you can’t reach him out there – he doesn’t take his cell phone.

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