As a young man, I befriended a gentleman that was known in the local fishing community there as “Tricky.” My friend Dick was known to catch fish as if they were his obedient pets. Winning at many levels in the tournament circuits from California to Florida, his nickname suited him and taunted his competitors.
At the time, I was serving in the Air Force at my first duty assignment, Eglin AFB. Initially, Dick was reluctant to my pestering ways, understandingly so. Why would an established angler like him want to waste his time with a novice like me?
Eventually, he succumbed to my persistent requests to take me out fishing. The day came, and we headed off to fish on a huge piece of private land filled with natural lakes teaming with big bass. To say I was excited is an understatement! This turned out to be the first of many trips and tournaments he and I enjoyed together, and the lessons I learned are too many to list.
At 78 years old, Dick has cheated death, and is in somewhat failing health. His frail body won’t allow him to hook up the boat and go any time he wishes. He needs help getting in and out of the boat. He wrestles with the reality that each trip, could be his last. I don’t feel obligated to take my friend fishing; I want to get him out. I want to get this old man on the water every chance I get because no one on earth appreciates times like that more than someone like him.
Our relationship evolved very much into a father/son-like bond, more so than fishing buddies. My dad has been gone several years now and despite the problems we had, I’d still like to take him fishing one more time if I could.
There’s something very special about this sport we love. It’s a passion that runs deep and brings us very close to the ones we share it with. Don’t put off that trip you’ve been talking about. Get that someone in your life out and make fishing memories.
When Tricky’s gone, I, and many others, will mourn his loss. But I’ll smile every time I remember our times, without regret. But for now, we’re going fishing!
~ Randy Cnota