[Note from Christopher: Back in 2000, while writing an article for Texas Co-op Power Magazine on Caddo Lake and its Graceful Ghost paddlewheel steamboat, I needed a place to stay. So I was very fortunate to run into Billy and Dottie Carter, a charming couple of East Texans who run Spatterdock Guest Houses there on the lake. Billy has a special boat for taking folks on tours of the Caddo Lake backwaters. So I wrote the following short piece on Billy and his boat as a sidebar to the main steamboat story. In case you missed it, the main story, “The Graceful Ghost of Caddo Lake,” is here in the Magazine section of the website.]
If you put four accountants and an outdoors guide into a lineup, you’ll have no problem picking out Billy Carter. He’s the one who looks like he doesn’t spend much time indoors. And if steamboats aren’t your thing, then Billy’s Go-Devil might be the ticket.
Billy and his wife, Dottie Carter, run the Spatterdock Guest Houses on Caddo Lake at Uncertain. Dottie, an artist, grew up on the lake, and Billy, 52, once owned a motorcycle shop in Longview. But he’s spent much of his life on Caddo, as well. An old framed Dallas Morning News article framed on the wall shows a photo of him at age 11 headlined, “The youngest fishing guide on Caddo Lake.”
A muscular, sun-burnished man, Billy works as a fishing guide all summer and duck hunts in the winter. He also runs Go-Devil Tours, which means a ride into the remote backwaters of Caddo in a 16-foot flat-bottom aluminum boat powered by the bizarre Go-Devil engine. The motor sits aft on the boat, the long propeller shaft angles out at about 60 degrees. That puts the propeller barely into the water and permits travel through the shallowest parts of the lake and back into the cypress brakes.
And that means you see some things you aren’t likely to see unless you travel by canoe or kayak. For instance, the heron and egret rookery, with hundreds of nests with baby birds tucked into the treetops, or an occasional alligator. Along the way, Billy will point out the duck blinds he’s made, beaver dams, and the perfect spot for catching big perch. All off the beaten path, complete with a running commentary sure to inform and entertain.
Billy and Dottie can be reached at the Spatterdock at (903) 789-3268, or at www.spatterdock.com on the web.