During this busy holiday season I got some quite time to myself. While sitting here on Christmas Day, taking a break from family, kids and the cold weather outside my mind went racing back to my early bass fishing days. Just as the kids today were opening their presents with all their excitement and the sparkle of happiness in their eyes I can still recall my first bass boat with the same excitement!
During my high school years I met a few friends who loved to bass fish and after a few months we started a bass fishing club at school. We didnt have that many members but we had fun with the few we had. One of the guys dads fished in a local club in town and asked us if we would like to take part in it. Well, that answer didnt take long so the next month we were part of a big local Bass Club. My senior year, I fished as a non-boater and learned a lot about bass fishing. It seemed that everyone you fished with in the club had a different idea and sometimes even a better one!
The one member that stood out the most was an older guy named Buddy! We became best of friends. He was different from the rest of the club members; this guy could fish! He was one of those men that could stop by the edge of the road, drop a line, and catch fish. It was like he was part man and part bass because he knew so much about bass fishing. Every chance I got I was over at his hardware store bugging him for knowledge while digging thought his tackle supplies looking for that special lure he had used the week before. Its funny that you could never find the same lures that he used while fishing; he may have something close, but never the same thing. As I think back, the other thing about Buddy was that while there were no big bass boats back then, most were 15 to 16 foot long with small engines, Buddy had a 1970 Ranger Bass Boat with a 60 or 75 hp engine. I can still remember the color of that Ranger even today, but the brand of engine I cant remember to save my life. It was a white boat trimmed in red with red carpet and seats. It was a fish catching machine for sure!
I still remember waking up that Saturday morning at home and while eating breakfast telling my parents that I wanted a bass boat. Both of my parents were not fishing people but they loved and enjoyed the outdoors. My dad was a quail hunter and bird dog trainer, while my mom helped with all the extras that went with that, she was also a good hunter too! I can still hear my Dad telling me, well son, If youre ever going to have anything in life then you will have to make payments on it! How true his words were because it seems that my whole life has included a regular payment or two. After breakfast I left for Pensacola, Fl., which was just down the road about 30 minutes or so and found the boat of my dreams. Even though it wasnt a Ranger boat, (yeah they were proud of them back then too), it was the boat of my dreams and something that I could afford. It was one of the finest boats in our little club at 16 foot long and packed with an 85 Johnson it could fly. My dreamboat suited me well and we caught a lot of fish for the next 7 years with it.
Then in 1982, all the rage was about the bigger 17 and 18 foot bass boats with the huge 150 and 175 hp motors mounted on them. I couldnt stand it any longer; I had to have one of them so I traded my dreamboat in for a new one. This time the monthly payments were larger just like the new boat was. My dad asked me, son do you really need that to catch fish? I could only smile as I told him I thought so because now it wasnt as much the fishing as it was the boat race and the speed that everyone one was after or at least thats what we thought. My new boat was a Skeeter Starfire 175 with a Mercury 175 Black Max on it and it could really fly. At this time it seemed everyone was building bigger and faster boats, and speed was the key element, not catching bass. Most of my friends stayed away from the big bad fast bass boats but I just couldnt resist them. Every weekend I did something to help that Starfire run faster in order to keep up with the newer faster boats. It went from the 175 black max to the 200 black max to the 220 Laser and then finally to the 2.5 offshore racer. Boy did those monthly payments get bigger with each engine!
As you know sometimes life can deal you a dirty card and there is nothing you can do but play the cards that have been dealt and hope for the best. It seemed to me that I have received a couple of dirty cards and as they were played out all I could do was fold. We never know what the Good Lord has planned for our lives and most of the time we never understand why things happen to us, but there is always a reason for it. We might not know or understand it for years to come, but trust me; there is always a reason!
In 1992 I sold my fast dreamboat to a friends son who fished in the club with us. While we were doing the paper work I could see myself in his young sparkling eyes that were full of excitement just as I had been the day I bought my first boat. After folding my cards, I moved to Lafayette, La. from Atmore, Ala. I stayed in contact with my bassin friends over in Al. and as far as I know, my friends son is still putting fish in our dreamboat! You ask well, what did you replace the Starfire with? My answer would be a sad one because I didnt replace the boat. What few times I got to bass fish back home was just not worth having a boat and making those payments. I did have a special friend back home that always seemed to know when I was going home to visit and who always had a special boat hooked up and ready to fish! Buddy and that special Ranger will always be in my heart and soul. After all these years that Ranger is still fishing as good as the day he got her and she will soon turn 35 years old!
In 1999 while living in Lafayette, I met my wife to be and in 2000 we were married. Do you remember about the cards being dealt out and sometimes getting a bad card? This time I had been given a kicker card, The Ace of Hearts which also gave me a Royal Flush in Life! It also answered some of the questions that I had while dealing with those bad cards in life, now there were reasons and answers to all my questions. My life has been fulfilled with my wife Merila, not only does she take care of me but she is my fishing partner. We both love to fish and did many times while from the bank or from her dads 14 Jon boat. Its funny sometimes how life takes you back to your humble beginnings of fishing.
In 2001 a new Tracker 175 Special Edition moved into our life and carport. Once again ole Dad was right because it came with payments! It amazing what parents know when they are raising us, isnt it? I had this boat rigged out just like a race boat, but it was maxed out with a 75 hp Mercury. As I recall my dads famous words, son get what you can afford and make the best of it; a sparkle of happiness and excitement once again comes to my mind with goose bumps on my arms just like the little children today as they race to open their Christmas gifts!
I consider myself blessed in life even though sometimes things happen that we dont understand until later in life. I have a loving family and great friends that stayed hooked on bass fishing and not the Evils of the world. Best of all, I have a loving wife that takes good care of me and is also my Team Partner not only in bass fishing but in life! Some may say that she has a front row seat in Heaven for having to put up with me, but the good Lord knows that Im a little Angel!
Since our bass boat became part of our household, yes with payments, we have made many new friends and met many friends over the net. Bass Fishing has helped us to come closer together because its something that we both love to do. You have always heard the saying the family that prayers together stays together; well, in our household we just added fishing with the prayers so it is the family that prayers & fishing together stays together! This has helped us to become stronger together not only in the fishing world, but also in Life.
Im also blessed with all our friends from UltimateBass.com and from the Twin Cities Team Club; you guys rock! Its because of all our members and friends that our site is so full of Excitement! This helps to push some of us to the best of our ability and keeps us on our toes.
What does the future hold for me? Im not sure just what the Good Lord has planned for me. I do know that I still have that little sparkle in my eye and the excitement in my heart, that I hope I can pass on to others in our bass fishing world, just as these children have passed onto me today.
You know, come to think of it I did hear Santa say something about a new Triton or Nitro maybe finding its way to our house in the future while he was taking off of our roof on that special night. I also heard that if I was a good boy, didnt get my little fish taken away, and that if I believed with all my heart that Santa could drop a bass rig down into our living room, that I just might get that new rig one day! But of course with Payments, good old Dad always knew best!
Heres Wishing You and Your Family the Best in 2005, may you always find that little twinkle in your eye and that excitement in your heart! Please remember our Troops; for it is because of them that we are Free! Also please take a child fishing, for they are our future!
Tight Lines & Happy Fishing!