I have been asked several times about the duck mounted on the Engel cooler I carry on back of my Hobie. So……….
2011 I married my Joy.
My Joy’s favorite holiday is Christmas. Every year there is a stocking taller than Dishrag full of everything from silly putty to a new camera lens; from magic cards, jacks or x-ray glasses to an Ipad. It feels totally random to me, but each gift has meaning to her…has her in them.
One of those things was a duck float. It was a rubber duck that had a poker chip on the bottom and a ring for fishing line. The rubber duck in the picture. It was a really bad design for a float, so I decided it would never be used for that purpose.
I removed the chip, placed it on the front of my Jackson Tuna and fished my first tournament of this year. At that tournament, I saw a Hobie PA12 on sale, told her how cool it was…and she bought it; not because I asked, but that is who she is for me. Tell you the chuck Norris birthday story one day…..
My third tournament of the year was the KBF Open. That duck rode with me every day of the pre-fishing and on my journey to an 11th place finish. A tournament that she encouraged me to attend, a tournament that she encouraged me to do as well as I did.
Since then, the duck has ridden on the back (except for one day it fell off and was lost for an hour – but found….I won!) for every tournament, for every trip I have made in the kayak. From Kentucky Lake to Wheeler Lake; from Chickamauga to Center Hill; from first place to 28th; everywhere the kayak and I go.
It sits on the top of that Engel cooler I use for a tackle box – to keep my Joy close to me. To remind me that I have love in my life. I turn and see it when the fish are slow, and I smile knowing that I am blessed to have her in my life. That silly little duck is there when I lose a big fish, when I take a deep breath and hear her (not literally) reminding me that “it will be ok, you will catch another one”.
“Go get a game changa!”
Maybe you could say that duck is in some ways a security blanket…maybe you might say I have issues….maybe some think I just have a duck thing they wouldn’t understand….maybe it is what the duck?
But the reality is I have a wife who supports my desire to fish competitively, who loves me, who is there when I feel down. A woman who doesn’t always get me, but who knows the only place I am calm; the only place my mind is still, is on the water.
And that duck……is me making sure that I have a little bit of her with me on every trip; me keeping her as close as I can. It is a reminder that I am not alone in my journey….not for one second.