My retirement will be welcomed one day; yours leaves me saddened and a little lost.
How do you say goodbye to an old friend?
What words can be written to capture the joy, the number of smiles that a friend was a part of?
When for over twenty five years, we created memories together…went on adventures together…fought together; how do I do it?
The hundreds (thousands?) of fishing trips we shared through the years are now a part of who I am. The fish we caught on those trips; the spring crappie, the late summer white bass jumps on the river, the yellow bass runs….catfish, trout…my first and only chain pickerel, first small mouth, first yellow perch. The water dog that led to me being called a liar when I told everyone I caught a catfish with feet…before we had cell phones to record every moment…before I could google what it was at all.
My first 6lb bass, in Yellow Creek….my second over six…my third…more and more…my first over 7lbs, in Guices Creek…over 8 lbs at Blue Creek….the countless numbers as I pulled top water baits over miles and miles of water.
The 40 plus fish days in the early fall, the zero fish days during summer’s hottest days; the best two days I ever had…one in Wells Creek where everything was over 5lbs….the second at Hickman Creek where every cast led to a fish.
You were there.
Last year as I fished my first KBF Open, you left me with confidence that allowed me to pedal to an 11th place finish on Kentucky Lake.
All year long I took you with me to every tournament, marching toward angler of the year in CAKFG.
But I knew it was coming. I no longer felt the strength…the power of your youth. I could sense that the time was coming. At Chicamauga, I watched a strong limit of bass swim away when you lost the battle to control them. At Toledo Bend, I lost two of the best fish I ever hooked; and I knew.
What else can I say to you old friend? I am sorry that I will leave you at home on my next trip. It will make me sad to cut the tape that holds the latest reel in the broken seat; pull the line through the mis-matched eyes, across the tape that holds them on for the last time.
So…to my Berkley Hot Rod thank you, I will miss you my friend. One day someone will find you among my things and have no idea what you once were; all your markings long gone…
…I just hope they feel what you meant to me.