I think about him often. Every time I’m on the water and I catch a good fish I want to call him and tell him my fish tales.

Last night I hooked into a lost a monster smallie on a streamer. It jumped, spit the hook, and hit the water so hard it sounded like a cannon ball. I miss calling him and recounting those stories. He’d listen, even though he hated talking on the phone. When I was done recounting my tall tales, he’d tell me that if he was in the boat with me he’d still out fish me. I believed it. I still do.

He was a hell of a fisherman. He never had the newest gear. He always had old Shimano reels and whatever rod was cheapest at the tackle shop in Okeechobee. For his birthday one year I spent a lot of money on a high end Shimano setup. Most of my paycheck that month. He told me it was too nice to use. When he passed, I inherited it. It’s well used. Just like it should be.

I was lucky to have those hands teach me so much about life. Without him, I don’t believe I’d have the love for the outdoors that I do. I wouldn’t love taking a block of wood and transforming it into a piece of art. I wouldn’t love watching tomatoes grow. I wouldn’t love opening the cooler in the boat and pulling out a brick of cheese and some good salami. I wouldn’t love grabbing an old knife, wiping off the crud from the blade, and cutting those pieces and stacking them in between two crackers.

It’s those little memories that make life so special.

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