December 22, 1978 – field trip to Bulldog Bend and Sixmile, Bibb County,Alabama, on Snaring Redhorse. Cross Montevallo, take 25 toward Centreville – about 40 miles from Birmingham and takes an hour or so.
Mr. Jack Grammar (proprietor Bulldog Bend Canoe Rental & Park) – he has onlybeen resident there eight years of so but his mother grew up there. Mr. Grammar says he has never done any, but has watched it from bridge at Bulldog Bend. Says there is just a few that does it, not the whole community. Mostly go by their-selves, sometimes with wife – has seen them come back with wastubs full, from the Little Cahaba and “the big river.” Recommends go see Mott Lovejoy and his uncle Morgan Lovejoy over in Sixmile. Says they use a long cane pole (twelve-fourteen feet), with a guitar string at the end of it, forming a loop maybe two feet from tip to pole, or twenty inches, slip knot, little piece of lead on bottom of it. Says most of them snatch redhorse around the tail (Mr. Morgan Lovejoy later said no, you are trying for the back of the gills). Warned us about Mr. Morgan Lovejoy’s sense of humor, said, he would “break one off in us” before we got through. Sure ‘nuff…
Mr. Morgan Lovejoy (at his home in Sixmile – Bill Finch & I with taperecorder.) Talked to us awhile through the screen, a bit suspicious, then took us under the house to compare Chinese and home grown cane – he had a local one better than an inch in diameter he had cut himself on some farmer’s land – maybe a dozen poles – then to little shed to show us all the gigs – gave me an old store bought fish gig with one tine missing, but still had a good beard. Not in good health, one eye bad and trouble walking. Born in 1895 – went to river last sometime last year with grandson Tommy Campbell, in his 20s, watched him catch twelve big ones and not miss one.
JIM BROWN: Have you seen this:
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Yeah, I reckon I have, for years – and, ah, I am glad peopledo not have to do that… They have stopped – they used to keep the weeds and things down a lot, -- now it is grown up till I cannot see much, and I cannot go. Well there is a fellow Tucker over here got a lake and he told me to come over to his house and go in a-fishing there. Do you know what a sun-breasted perch is? A little bream.
JIM BROWN: Yeah, the bottom half of it is just as red…
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Yeah, well, I was fishing over there, and they was biting –they beat anything I ever saw. I got a nephew, he is kind of tongue-tied, and he would say, it is the beatenest thing you ever did seen. Well, they was just biting so fast, and I got enough for – ain’t nobody but my wife and me here now – and so I got as many as I thought we could eat, and I put a squirming 1:00bait is where you put two or three worms, where you can see it good, you know. And I held it, oh, high as a stick (three feet) from the water or higher, and they jumped after that till they got wet with sweat (laughter). Yeah, they was biting wasn’t they?
JIM BROWN: Mr. Lovejoy, when you started this snaring redhorse back in 1912 orwhenever, who all in the community did it besides Charlie Edwards? Was he the only one around who did it, or was there other families, other people that would do it? (He had mentioned it earlier that he, Morgan, moved to Bulldog Bend from Randolph in 1912 and Charlie Edwards got them started).
MORGAN LOVEJOY: I’m just trying to think. Well, further back than that, oldman Burns MacGuire – but I couldn’t tell you nothing, that was too far back. He used to do that. He was a terrible fisherman, Mr. MacGuire was.
JIM BROWN: But there was always people around here, you figure, that snared2:00redhorse? – somebody even before you came, there were probably people that did it?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Not much.
JIM BROWNL: Not too much?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Now Charlie Edwards did, and – that’s the first one that Iknew off – and I can’t think of no other family no where. There wasn’t many people around here – it wasn’t around here, it was down by Bulldog Bend where we lived and there wasn’t many people lived down there.
JIM BROWN: Ah, how long a pole – when you went to do it, when you went tosnare redhorse, how long a pole, just as long as you could get?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Long as we could get. Twenty feet long was too short sometimes,you know, maybe a swift place. One time down there, what they called Trots Ford, was a hole. You know, we never would… More people got to where they’d snare, and got where they’d go women and all, go down and snare. Drag, you know, with 3:00them loops.
JIM BROWN: Would whole families do it, you mean?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Well, a man and his wife. Well, old man Turner, he’d get outin front, and that’d run them off the bed, see. And it was real swift there. And there was one extra red horse there, and he hung it, and that water was swift. And his son-in-law was right there. And that redhorse grabbed the pole and he jerked him down, with the help of that swift water, and his son-in-law grabbed the pole and he went down over them shoals. He was bony, they called him Bones, his son-in-law – went down over there and you could see them skinny knees sticking up (laughter) and the redhorse got loose. See if you give them slack they’d get loose – if you’d let that slack, they’d get loose. 4:00
JIM BROWN: It was a big fish, then?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Whoo, it was a big ‘un. Now they’re larger on the big riverdown here than they are on the little river, I don’t know why.
JIM BROWN: How big would you say you’d catch these fish? What would be a bigfish if you was to catch it?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Six pounds.
JIM BROWN: Six pounds?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Yeah, down here, but they get bigger than that on the big river.
JIM BROWN: And you could see them, and you’d slip that noose over their head?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Yeah. You’d have to drag it a long time. Sometimes they’dget down in that bed and get their nose wrapped up against a rock – and they get wise to it – and you have to wait till he moves a little bit fore you could get it over. Then you make the loop just big enough to go back to his gills. You get it too big, it’d go over him see – it’d go back here (tail) and tighten up and, oh, you’d have some fun there. They’ll horse, too, they’ll pull. They’re a lot of fun.
JIM BROWN: You try to catch hum behind the gills instead of on the tail?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Yeah. Well sometimes now – they have a forked tail, you know,5:00like a, a…
JIM BROWN: Shad, or something?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Yeah, shad. And, but sometimes it’d get too far and it’dslip and catch him back there in that fork and hold him, hold him real tight, and catch him by that sometimes. That’s when you’d have trouble. Trying to get him in.
JIM BROWN: Cause he’s pointed the other way, isn’t he?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Yeah, I tell you what happened. Now this sounds unreasonable. Afew years ago, I had a pick up truck here. And my son from (he lives at Oak Grove, that’s the one used to work for_____ at the furnace there) and him and this nephew of mine, were down below Centreville, down a big river, And we learned how – we used to, we’d put them on a string, you know, staging, trotline or something. And they’d slosh so till they’d tear their gills out 6:00and then they’d die quick. We learned to get tow sacks and put four or five in each sack and tie them to a sapling somewhere in the water. And we had so many when we come out of there… you know, fishermens can tell some big ones, but this is the truth. We got so many that we carried them out in those sacks and poured them in my pickup and that bed was (it was a Chevrolet) that bed was half full, now, of redhorse. And those eggs was all over them, old slimy, you know them eggs, slime and all. And I knew the fellow that had charge of the waterworks at Centreville. I said, let’s go by over there at Bill ______, and get him to let us wash them off with the hosepipe, firehose. And got there, and 7:00there wasn’t nobody at home. Brick building, he was living in, and the stuff was down under there. There no drain, you know. And so I just connected up that big hose, and backed that truck down there over a drain, you know – and washed ‘em out, just washed all that slime and eggs off. And my son and my grandson peddled them out there. You can sell them, oh, you can sell them.
JIM BROWN: What’d they sell them for?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: They’d sell them for a dollar a piece. Just a dollar a piece,didn’t make any difference how big.
JIM BROWN: You don’t eat, you don’t eat these fish? You don’t eat redhorse?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Yeah…
JIM BROWN: How do you fix that noose? Mr. Grammar said they used a guitarstring, a guitar wire.
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Well, now, a guitar’s pretty good. But it’s got too muchtension, see, it’ll come loose. And that brass wire, you can make a loop and 8:00kind of bend it back up like that and it’ll hold. But now that guitar string, you know it’s got too much spring to it. And it’ll close up or get too big. But it won’t break; it’ll hold ‘em.
JIM BROWN: Did you have to weight that wire?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Yeah, if I knew where, I’d show you some sinkers in my toolbox. But I don’t remember just where…
JIM BROWN: Just like a split-shot or something like you’d use fishing?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: No, we’d beat, melt it, then cut it out, then put a copperwire just like in the snare, in it. Then we’d run that snare through it, through the loop, and it was down in the bottom.
JIM BROWN: So it’d slide?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Yeah, it’d drag on the bottom.9:00
JIM BROWN: That weight would slide on the wire?
MORAGN LOVEJOY: That weight would slide along the bottom, see, as you pulled.It’s be a loop about that big (touches thumb and index finger together in a circle). I ain’t a-getting old (somewhat palsied); I’m just nervous. (laughter) But that weight holds it down on the bottom where it’d go under them, see.
JIM BROWN: Was that weight fixed on the wire, or did that weight slide along the wire?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: That wire was --- it’d have a little loop, oh it’s nothing,that big (makes a circle maybe ¼ to ½ inch in diameter.)
JIM BROWN: How would it compare to weights you’d use fishing? Was it a prettyheavy weight, or… compared to one you’d put on, say, a fishing line? MORGAN LOVEJOY: Well, no, you wouldn’t have that kind of weight for fishing with a hook and line. You’d have lead around the line, right above the hook.
JIM BROWN: How big was it, the piece of lead?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: It’d depend on… if it was eddy water, you have it wasn’tswift, you wouldn’t use so much. But if it was swift, you have to have a 10:00heavier one. If you didn’t, it’d just carry that bait and hook toward top, see.
JIM BROWN: When these redhorse would bed, do they all bed together like bream,or do they just scatter out like bass?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Oh they scatter up and down the river, but they have the same beds.
JIM BROWN: Every year?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Yeah, every year. And they’ll be, someplace, seven or eightbeds, at one, you know, place in the river. Oh I wish you could go one time. You see Mott and tell him you want to go with him.
JIM BROWN: Well I intend to go this spring if I can find somebody to take me.
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Well he’ll carry you, Mott will. And he knows – he’s tall,and he can see them good, you know. And now since I’ve been operated on, I can’t see. I went with my grandson on down, oh, way on down toward Marion, this time. And I lay out there on the sand, and he caught 12 of the biggest ones 11:00I ever saw, and he didn’t let a one get away. You know, you can’t hardly go but what some don’t flounce around and slip off. But he got twelve, and didn’t a one. That was the best luck…
JIM BROWN: How long ago was that?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: That was this past spring.
JIM BROWN: Oh yeah? How old’s your grandson?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: He’s in the twenties, I don’t remember. My daughter livesright up on the hill, and he lives – my grandson – lives over here across the bridge on the left. He can tell you something.
JIM BROWN: What’s his name?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Tommy Campbell. And Mott – but now you see I ought to go inthere and calla and see if Mott’s at home.
JIM BROWN: Would you mind?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: No, I don’t mind. But he can tell you, and he’s been at itlonger. He’s up on it, you know, a little more that I was when I came along. 12:00Cause he had time to learn…
JIM BROWN: Let me ask you one or two more questions, real quick.. When you’dgo out, would they be all day trips you’d take…
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Sometimes all day and all night; we’d carry food with us. Andwe’d put them in sacks, and they’d stay alive, see, in the water.
JIM BROWN: What, you’d take flashlights with you at night, or torches, or what?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Well, used to take carbide lamps all the time.
JIM BROWN: Can you snare them better of a night or a daytime?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Well, I don’t know. They can’t see you as good at night, andyou can have rake – you can rake, we used to catch them in the dark and not have no light, just know where the bed was, and just rake and catch them, and they wouldn’t run so. But if you get too close and the sun’s shining too much they see you, they’ll run off.
JIM BROWN: Well, would they just sit there sometimes while you just put that13:00noose over their head?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Oh yeah, you mighty right. I’ll tell you what happened. Nowthey said, fishermen will tell lies. But now this happened (laughter). Well I saw, in one of the western magazines about sports and things, said he never heard a fisherman tell the truth but one time, said he heard one fisherman call another one a liar (laughter). But I was fixing to tell you something, but that shows I forgot. I was fixing to tell you something and now I’ve forgot it. I’ll think of it when you get gone. Yeah.
JIM BROWN: When we – you were talking about – you said Indians used to gigmore than they used to snare. You don’t think the Indians used to snare?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Indians? I don’t know about the Indians.
JIM BROWN: You said something about a wooden prong.
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Now they’d gig them, yeah.14:00
JIM BROWN: They’d gig them?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Yeah, they’d gig them. Well, they didn’t have no wire nornothing, see, they had to make those gigs.
BILL FINCH: You said you used to gig them – did you use to gig them more thanyou’d snare them?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Oh yeah – well years ago I did. In late years, yeah. And afterthe redhorse was through bedding, we’d go gigging and gig any kind of fish, at night, see? And they come on shallow water feeding you know, at night. And we gigged then.
JIM BROWN: What kind would you get?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Sucker and catfish, man, just get a lot of cat. Butsomething’s happened to the cat, not near as many cat in this river as used to be. Not near as many.
BILL FINCH: Is snaring kind of a new thing, then? Is snaring fairly new?
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Well, now, this fellow Edwards, Charlie Edwards, he’s dead,15:00been dead several years – he used to gig all the time. He never did snare.
JIM BROWN: I see.
MORGAN LOVEJOY: Let me go in there and see if I can get Mott…
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript: "I’m just trying to think. Well, further back than that, old man Burns MacGuire – but I couldn’t tell you nothing, that was too far back. He used to do that."
Segment Synopsis: Morgan Lovejoy discusses the few redhorse fishers that came before him in the Bulldog Bend area.
Keywords: 1912; Bulldog Bend, Alabama; Burns MacGuire; Charlie Edwards
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript: "Long as we could get. Twenty feet long was too short sometimes, you know, maybe a swift place. One time down there, what they called Trots Ford, was a hole. You know, we never would. . . More people got to where they’d snare, and got where they’d go women and all, go down and snare. Drag, you know, with them loops."
Segment Synopsis: Morgan Lovejoy discusses the equipment used, who would fish, how much the redhorse fish typically weighed and were worth, and how they would catch the fish.
Keywords: "Trots Ford"; Centreville, Alabama; Mott Lovejoy; noose; pole; Turner; wire
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript: "And now since I’ve been operated on, I can’t see. I went with my grandson on down, oh, way on down toward Marion, this time. And I lay out there on the sand, and he caught twelve of the biggest ones I ever saw, and he didn’t let a one get away. You know, you can’t hardly go but what some don’t flounce around and slip off. But he got twelve, and didn’t a one. That was the best luck. . ."
Segment Synopsis: Morgan Lovejoy tells about how he and his grandson recently went on a redhorse snaring trip and also advises Jim Brown on who he should talk to for more information.
Keywords: Marion, Alabama; Mott Lovejoy; Tommy Campbell
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript: "Sometimes all day and all night; we’d carry food with us. And we’d put them in sacks, and they’d stay alive, see, in the water."
Segment Synopsis: Morgan Lovejoy discusses the supplies needed for overnight trips and the advantages and disadvantages of fishing at night.
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript: "Oh yeah – well years ago I did. In late years, yeah. And after the redhorse was through bedding, we’d go gigging and gig any kind of fish, at night, see? And they come on shallow water feeding you know, at night. And we gigged then."
Segment Synopsis: Morgan Lovejoy talks about how gigging used to be far more popular than snaring.
Keywords: catfish; Charlie Edwards; gig; Indians; snaring; sucker fish