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23 Jul

An Angler Looks At 70……A Constant Change Of Life And Seasons

December 14, 2023

As 2023 comes to an end and the new year is just around the corner, I always look back and remember those days of fishing with my grandfather at a nearby pond in the foothills of North Carolina. I was only 8 years old. We used metal buckets for chairs and dug up our bait which was about as much fun as the fishing. We would sit under a tree on the bank and throw out the hook and bobber. There were some times we didn’t have any hooks, so I raided my mother’s sewing basket and pocketed a few of her safety pins. I was sure to duck out the door with them before she caught me, but was also sure to put them back where I found them, having cleaned off the fish and worm blood for her. We sat by the pond drinking warm Coca-Cola because we didn’t have a cooler, and eating oatmeal cookies and nabs. That’s cheese crackers for those of you from up North. When the sun started to set, it was time to head back home for dinner. Didn’t know what we were going to have, but we knew it wasn’t going to be fish. I hated to see the summer end. That meant no fishing with my grandfather until the next spring.

Every year around Christmas I think about those days I spent fishing, both in fresh water and saltwater. Over those 60 years, I fished from old broken-down docks, the decks of nice sportfishing boats, and everything in between. I caught everything from little tiny Bream to giant Bluefin Tuna. I fished all over the United States and had a great time doing it.

When the cool, cloudy coastal days of North Carolina arrive and Christmas lights starts to flicker the season comes to an end, I always look back.  Not just back to the past 12 months, but also back to the 60 years that brought me here today. I wait for a cold rainy night in my worn easy chair with my beagle (Buster) stretched out on the arm of the chair and he sleeps. With an Irish Whisky in one hand and a cigar in the other, I look out at the cold rainy night and go back in time to not only the past year, but all the years before that. It’s strange to say, but the early years of my fishing as a child seem to be more clear than recent years. I believe it’s due to having revisited those years so many times. I also admit that by pushing 70, my memory is not what it used to be. These days I sometimes have to take a minute to remember a name or place. My wife assures me that it’s just part of the aging process. I don’t worry too much because it’s the older memories that mean the most to me at this point in my life.

I take the years one by one, like thinking of the fun of catching that big tuna, or the fear of blowing an engine 25 miles offshore with 7′ seas and no anchor (please don’t ask for details). I will tell you that I sold my rods and reels to another guy on the boat before we got back to the dock. (However, he did let me buy them back the next week.)

It’s important to me to reflect on days gone by this time of year. To remember the great times and the great people I met along the way. Most of all, I do remember and appreciate how far I’ve come. From fishing in a pond with a safety pin and worm to being amid great fishermen that taught me well. And for that, I am humbly grateful. And most of all I want to acknowledge my wife of 45 years (Kathy) who never complained a single time about my love for fishing and the boating industry. Instead, she always encouraged me to pursue my dreams, and I’ll be damn if they didn’t come true and then some!

Now 60 years later, things are different. My grandson doesn’t like to fish but he likes to read. So instead of going fishing, we go to Barnes and Noble and we have a great relationship just like me and my grandfather. My 8-year granddaughter loves fishing and made me promise to take her fishing a lot in 2024. I’ll be spooling her rod next week.

As for this year, I’m waiting on one of those cold rainy nights soon to be here so Buster and I can get comfortable and take a stroll down memory lane while Miss Kathy keeps the Irish Whisky glass filled. If you need to call, please leave a voicemail. I’ll call you back. I’m lost in those wonderful memories right now.


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