There are a lot of legends and tales that surround the muddy waters of the Sabine river. One such legend is that of my father A.L. (Skeeter) Stewart.
My dad was about as much a River Rat as he was anything. My earliest memories are of he and I on the Sabine running Trot lines and throw lines. Wading in waist deep water carrying sacks of potatoes and onions. Back in those days there were not many 4 wheel drive trucks around so we either rode in on a tractor or walked in dragging an old aluminum boat.
We often would stay in shacks built from plastic sheeting and whatever logs and limbs we could find for days on end. One thing that was a constant was the catfish. There was never a time I do not remember our live boxes overflowing with the biggest Blue cats and most monstrous Flat heads. My dad was an expert at finding the perfect set for our lines. I have never met another human being save for myself that could rival his almost supernatural ability at finding holes full of cats. Many a time we honestly ran our trotline and had a fish on every hook. Sometimes 25 fish per line.
My dad had fishing holes named all up and down the Sabine River. Names like the Stump Hole, Blue Hole, 117 Hole and the old Stove Hole. Most holes names were self explanatory and some were just names of the creeks that flowed in where they were located. I guess the most famous of which was the Stump hole. The Stump hole was a notorious Op or flathead hole. The number of fish and size that I and my dad caught out that hole could not and would not fit in a dump truck. We regularly caught 70 plus pound cats on hand sized bream or bullheads.
My dad could pick the bait as well as he could the spot to place the lines. Perch had to have a specific color and even the texture of their scales meant a lot. The slicker the perch the better it was for bait according to him.
Everyone in the Shelby and Panola county areas knew my dad and respected him as the top knowledgeable fisherman about anything catfish. I cant tell you the multitude of stories I hear constantly about my dad from folks I run into in the grocery store or department store sporting goods area.
Well my dad is now casting his line in the great hereafter as he passed away a few days ago at his home with my mother, sister and myself by his side. Liver cancer caught up to him but it had to run a hard race to get him. My dad lived life on his own terms and he met his end on those same terms.
There will never be another like him. I try but fall short at times. A.L. Skeeter Stewart my dad only stood 5 foot 7 but was a mountain of man in so many eyes.