Though all fishermen have stories, 66-year-old James Bramlett needs only one. A lifelong resident of Dora, Ala., Bramlett has fished the Black Warrior River his entire life. The son of a coal miner and one of eleven children, Bramlett grew up learning how to fish and hunt from his six brothers. Back then, it was simply a way to feed the family after Bramlett’s father passed when he was five-years-old.
He continues to feed those who could use a free meal. Bramlett can catch a stringer of catfish with ease and he often gives the fish to friends and their family, fully aware that there are people around him who are not as fortunate.
His wife, Jan, is a Birmingham native and like her husband, can haul in a 60-pound catfish. They have been married nearly fifty years and have spent a significant chunk of that time fishing on the Black Warrior. Together, they have taught two boys how to be good men. Their two sons, Chris and Vance, are both veterans of the US Navy.
Bramlett’s F-150 pickup looks naked without his boat hitched onto the back. Their living room walls are lined with old photographs of catfish, bass, their military boys and grandchildren. Yet one wall is different. That wall is dedicated to one purpose: the staggering display of a 69 pound, nine ounce striped bass, an International Game and Fish Association (IGFA) world record.