Home On The Alapaha
On The Shoulders Of Giants With Andrew Curtis
Andrew Curtis | March 4, 2023
To say that this river is special to my family is an understatement. It has cared for my kin for well over 200 years, ever since my Carter ancestors settled in Lanier County in the 1700s. The Carter line unfortunately died with my maternal grandfather, Robert Carter. He was also one of the last ones to live there before moving away to Madison, Georgia after WWII. As the thriving town began to dry up, my grandfather saw the farming community of home as a safety-net occupation, choosing to try his hand in the business world first. Naylor, Georgia could not support his big dreams, but the Alapaha River always called him back.
There is not much to speak of in Naylor these days, unless you talk of the beautiful river coursing through the land. That time-defying river seems to sustain the few families of old remaining. Everyone I talk to who grew up there speaks of the river as if it is a member of the town. Many have fished, swum, played, camped, canoed and even been baptized on the banks of that quiet river. For my grandfather who grew up in the Great Depression, the fishing was very important as food was hard to come by in those days. His favorite fish to eat out of the Alapaha was the redfin pike, and one of his favorite fishing techniques for catching this tasty fish did not involve a fishing pole or even a line and hook. He would simply lie on a log hanging out over the water and suspend his hands in the water below the log. Patience was the game. Inevitably, a pike would appear between his still hands and the log. The unsuspecting pike would calmly hide in the shadow of the log, but with a quick flip of my grandfather’s hands, the stunned pike would be tossed onto the bank. Repeating this over and over, my grandfather would eventually head home with a sack full of prized fish.
To this day when I see a surface log adequate to support a person lying prone, I think of my grandfather as a kid happily flipping those redfin pike out of the water. I don’t see anyone doing that technique these days. I guess many kids are too busy with electronics to “waste” a day lying on a log in the river. Many kids have probably never caught or even seen a redfin pike. Many kids probably do not know how to “read” a river. There is so much to be learned. The responsibility to help teach falls on us adults.
I am so blessed to return my family to this river, to teach my boys the importance of it in our lives. Fishing is so much more than recreation; it can teach lessons about life. When Covid first hit a couple of years ago, one of my initial thoughts was on survival. Could I take care of my family if couldn’t rely on anyone else? Fortunately, my generation of Americans has not been truly tested, and I pray that we are never faced with that kind of challenge. But if we are, you can find me and my family at home on the Alapaha…
Thank you for your comment!