In our recent newsletter we invited subscribers to submit their fishing photos, videos, stories and experiences for the purpose of sharing with our blog readers and Facebook fans. The simple reason is that collectively we can cover far more water and uncover so many more positive aspects of this sport than any one of us can individually. Within minutes of the newsletter send, we received our first response from D. Echols of Florida. We can’t agree more with the title, yes, this is what it’s all about. One fishing trip and all three anglers walk away with three completely different experiences, all of which are incredibly rewarding and valuable. Mr. Echols and Louie are fans of Avenger spinning reels and to keep the team together, we sent a fresh one down for Wyatt.
I’ve been an avid (some would say “fanatical”) fisherman since the age of three. Let’s see, minus the two years I spent in the Army, that’s over a half century. That’s plenty long enough to have gone through many of the hardships that can and do befall some of us “hard-core” anglers… things like hooks in the fingers, hooks in the feet, hooks in the back of the head, hooks in the top of the head, sinking boats, caught out in the storms, knots on the head from lead weights, a ton of cuts, stabs and bites from a variety of different fish, falling out of boats, broken rods, burned-up drags and I could go on and on. Having grown up right on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River in Southwest Florida, I’ve got so many fishing stories, and some so wild that most people don’t even believe me when I tell them. But that’s okay.
Fast forward quite a few years. There usually comes a time or two in one’s life when things take a drastic turn, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. If yours hasn’t happened yet, stand by, it will. I’ve had my share of both. One of the worst was when I was diagnosed with cancer a little over two years ago and was pretty much written off by everyone except my immediate family and one fantastic doctor who ended up saving my life. But on the other end of the spectrum, one of the best times was when a little boy who I call “Louie”, came into my life. My goodness, things have definitely not been the same since. A little over ten years ago God blessed our family with this little boy and it didn’t take long for me to realize that he was a whole lot like me, especially when it came to fishing. I guess when he was about two years old and would get my fishing rods out of the garage and fish in the pool is what really gave it away. Since then I’ve made it my mission to teach Louie everything that I possibly could about fishing. Not that I’m an expert by any means, but I (like many of you) do have a lot to offer. Louie has no Dad, so I have stepped in and tried to fill that gigantic void in his life. And at this stage of my life, nothing is more satisfying than watching him grow as an angler and as a person. Learning how to deal with whatever life has to throw at him, and having that spirit of a fisherman, I believe is helping prepare him for what lies in store later on in life, just like it did for me.
Having said all of this, all of the teaching and sharing of my experience paid off for me in a big way a few weekends ago. Louie’s cousin (and best buddy) Wyatt came down from Clermont Fl., for a visit. Wyatt’s eight years old, and has a keen interest in fishing, but doesn’t get to go much. I saw how excited he got while looking at the giant bass in some of Louie’s fishing photos. We keep them in a big album there on the coffee table in the living room. I asked him if he’d ever been bass fishing. He said “yeah, a couple of times with bread, but I’ve never caught one”. Louie and I looked at each other and I could tell just what he was thinking. So right there I said, “let’s take him to Mockingbird Lake right now”! Of course I got no argument from Louie.
We loaded up in the truck and off we went. And folks, this is where it got oh so good. What a great feeling it was, to just hang back and watch Louie take Wyatt under his wing. Listening to him tell Wyatt, with all the confidence in the world, just what to do, from the bait choice, to the cast and even the retrieve. My heart swelled with pride when I heard him yell “you got one, set the hook, set the hook, keep your rod tip up high & keep that line tight”, for it was just a few years ago that I was yelling this same stuff at Louie. Thanks, at least partly to Louie’s coaching and instructions, I watched as Wyatt caught the biggest bass of his life. And there’s no doubt in my mind, that he is now hooked, and hereafter will never be the same. And neither will Mr. Louie. Thanks Louie and way to go Wyatt! Hopefully, as Wyatt returns to Clermont and goes fishing with his buddies, he will now impart his newfound fishing savvy and will be yelling “you got one, set the hook, set the hook, keep your rod tip up high & keep that line tight” to one of his friends. I know that most of you have heard it said “take a kid fishing” many times, so I won’t say it here. But how can you read this and not come to that conclusion. After all, isn’t this what it’s all about? Thanks for reading.