Before they split for good, my parents gave their disintegrating marriage one final go. My mother joined my father in Louisville, Georgia. As a result, the first portion of my elementary school years was spent in a small town surrounded by farmland, forests, and fishing holes.
My father supervised a shirt factory in Louisville. Eventually, he owned and operated a series of apparel-making plants around Central Georgia. None of them thrived for long.
Manufacturing shirts and pants and shoes was what my father did to make a living. But that’s all it was. A way to pay the bills. He had no passion for the business. Fishing was his passion. When he looked in the mirror, Sam Owensby saw a fisherman.
|Nicholas Roerich's "And We Continue Fishing"|
My father spent the better part of his life on Kelly’s Lake. Before the Civil War, the Kelly family had formed a small body of black swamp water by erecting an earthen dam across the Ogeechee River.
Bass fishing was what my father loved best. Before the days of sonar fish finders, he knew every inch of Kelly’s Lake: the river current’s course through the lake; every fallen tree and submerged stump; sudden drop-offs, unexpected shallows, and creek feeds.
Most importantly, he seemed to understand the fish themselves. He knew where they would be at different times of day and in different seasons of the year. He selected bait and lures to appeal to their shifting tastes. And, as his work schedule allowed, he planned his time on the water to coordinate with what he believed to be mealtime for bass.
He never said it this way, but my father followed his own fisherman’s creed. Know your lake. Know your fish. Go to where your fish are, don’t expect them to come to you. You’re not going to catch many fish waiting for them to jump in the boat with you.