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Five years ago today Lane Ferguson broke the state junior angler record for catfish and seven records total at 12 years old. It's become our tradition since to fish this same day, no matter what.
He's been my fishing partner when I get to to fish for "fun" since he was so little that mom was totally freaked out that he was on the boat and worried nonstop calling every 10 minutes to check on him. He was so little that I often had to hold the back of his lifejacket while running on plane.
He's always been down to fish or hunt no matter what, doesn't care when, where or in what conditions. He's driven hours with me in the middle of the night to fish, gone hours on end without eating, fished in extreme heat, freezing cold with the fishing reels freezing up, pouring down rain and even laid out on the floor of the boat sick as a dog refusing to leave but mustering up the energy to reel in a fish.
He's learned a LOT from me over the years about catching catfish and gone from me helping and walking him through every step of the way to doing it all on his own without instruction.
He's gone from filming one of my very first Youtube videos (which got nearly 1,000,000 views) that was so shaky every comment on Youtube asked if it was filmed by a first grader when in fact it almost was. Now, he's proficient with running a variety of camera equipment and has even filmed full episodes of Fox Sports Outdoors with me in the past couple of years.
We went fishing today, it was cold, foggy, drizzling rain and just generally pretty miserable. You had to WANT to be there, he never complained, never said a word just sat there staring with that "look" that only a hardcore catfish angler that chases big fish can truly understand. There's not a lot of people that "get it".
When we fish, especially for big fish I'm always watching him catch fish. I get more enjoyment watching him reel a big fish in than I could ever get catching it myself.
I realized today about 3 or 4 fish in when the rod bent down and he went to work he's not this baby faced little boy anymore that was in this photo. He doesn't need my instruction walking him through what to do every step of the way in fact he really doesn't need my help at all.
Bittersweet in a sense but sobering as well.
I know the day will come that he'll have "other" things to do and December 23rd won't work and we won't be fishing. I know he'll be going to college soon and there won't be a fishing buddy a few feet away that's ready to go fishing at the drop of a hat. I know the day will come that December 23rd "won't work" or he'll have other commitments or priorities.
Truth be told, I'll probably be out there fishing that same day regardless, with or without him just because of the memory.
I also know I better get Ava Ferguson some pink Gore Tex fishing britches and start acclimating her to the cold, wind, rain and catfish slime also :)
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I'm no pundit but there's a whole lot of people who promised to move to Canada that probably need to be looking for boxes right now.