Opryland’s Fertile Waters

I kept thinking about catching a Gaylord carp. Which is what they should call the monstrous blue and orange fish that don’t so much swim as hover in the indoor waters at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, where I attended the NWTF show last week. There are 9 acres of gardens there, with a river and a bunch of ponds and waterfalls. But the place never really goes dark enough for stealth fishing. It’s tastefully lit. And the lights stay on 24/7.

One night at dinner, the only seat I could get without a half-hour wait was at the far end of the sushi bar. I was literally 3 feet from the water and less than 8 feet from a couple of honker Gaylords. And I had bait right in front of me—a soft roll that would have compressed onto a hook nicely. If only I’d had a hook, and about 12 feet of hand line, I bet I could have underhand-cast it out there without getting noticed. Only, playing a fresh 20-pounder on a hand line would have been a pretty lively undertaking. And my explanation that I was strictly a catch-and-release man when fishing hotel waters probably wouldn’t have saved me any trouble with security. Then I’d have had to go wait in line at another restaurant for 30 minutes.

The other temptation there was all the coins people had thrown into the water. It’s not like there was a wishing well or a shrine to whichever saint oversees obesity. People just like throwing money into water. If it actually made something happen—like a big whirlpool or an arm to come up out of the water and wave to you—I could see the appeal. If you really want to throw money into water, just buy a boat. Anyway, the piles of coins were biggest at the ends of bridges and under overhead walkways. Money won’t stick to a magnet, but I kept thinking there had to be a way.

On my last day, in broad daylight, I saw an older guy in insulated chest waders—camo ones at that—slowly pushing a pole as he walked around a fountain. Presumably, he was pushing the money towards some kind of receptacle. He wouldn’t have heard me over the roar of a nearby waterfall, but I was tempted to call, “Good for you, bud. You got more grit than I do.”

Photo Bensbiz