By Steve Graf
As we grow older, we start to understand the importance of having a relationship with our grandparents. Years go by and you begin to take for granted the time you spend with them. Then one day they’re no longer with us and you realize just how much influence they had on you and the way you see things today. They shaped you in ways you never knew and transformed you into the person you are. Today, I’ll share with you an experience I had with a co-angler who had a close relationship with his grandpa.
One of my favorite circuits to fish during the last ten years has been the ABA Open Series sponsored by American Bass Anglers Association. Chris Wayand is the tournament director for all ABA events including the new Solo 150 Tour. At one particular event on Toledo Bend a few years ago, I was paired up with a young co-angler from Louisiana. Like all tournaments, you sit in your boat waiting for take-off and get to know your partner for the day. While there are a lot of chit-chats, overall it’s just information about who they are, their hobbies, how long they’ve been fishing, who taught them how to fish, and how they make a living. Sometimes you get a co-angler who really opens up and you need a shutoff valve to turn them off. But on this day my co-angler had a lot on his mind and was willing to share. He informed me that he was expecting THE CALL he was dreading and would be leaving the tournament if that transpired.
He told me that his grandpa was very sick and in the hospital. But he was so happy they had a chance to sit and talk the night before. My co-angler knew the end was near as we had some deep conversations and the impact his grandpa had on him. It was sad to hear because you could tell his grandpa meant the world to him. He was his mentor in all things important in life, including hunting and fishing. He had story after story of some great hunting and fishing trips they shared.
As we pulled up to our first fishing spot, I pulled out a few of the rods I would be using that day. My co-angler stepped up on the back deck and we began our fishing day that I feared would be cut short. We immediately started the day with good catches, as we both caught our bass limit. It was one of the best first thirty-minute starts to a bass tournament I had ever had! The same could be said for my co-angler as well. During this explosive start, he continued to reminisce about his grandpa when his cell phone rang. I could tell by his reaction it was not good news as he hung up and looked at me with a tear in his eye acknowledging his grandpa had just passed away.
How ironic was it that we had just experienced an unbelievable fish-catching moment while he talked about the good times he had with his grandpa. I felt his pain and sadness as he gathered himself and asked me to please take him back to the boat ramp so he could go and be with his family. I told him how sorry I was for his loss and that just based on the stories he told me, I knew his grandpa was a very special man.
This is a call that all of us at one time or another have gotten. It’s emotionally draining, and your mind goes in so many directions that you have no idea which way to turn or what to do next. But looking back on this day, I think Grandpa made his presence felt during these thirty minutes of fish-catching craziness as his grandson drifted back in time and relived many of the memories they shared. I firmly believe that the awesome fishing we shared that morning was Grandpa’s way of thanking his grandson for the good times and the relationship they had.
As far as the tournament went, we both finished in the top 10, all thanks to Grandpa! If you have that special grandpa or anyone who has taken the time to mentor you, make sure to tell them thank you before it’s too late. Till next time, good luck, good fishing and if possible, give your grandpa a hug.