Well did some more work on the boat today and got the batteries installed and checked out the cockpit lighting, electronics, and bilge pump. All was working good. It is this time of year that is bittersweet for me. I am full of anticipation for the season to begin in general and this year I have additional excitement because I am going to Ralph Stieger's and Bobby B's smallmouth bass seminar in Hammond on March 5, 2016. I am really looking forward to meeting these guys and gaining some knowledge about fishing The Southern Basin of Lake Michigan. I have always wanted to fish the big pond and never did, so this year it is my goal to get on some of those big Lake Michigan Smallies. Bittersweet because I am really feeling the loss of one of my friends. He sadly took his own life a little over a year ago and this season I am feeling a bit sad and missing the calls I used to get from him. See, he was not the most mechanically inclined, and this is the time of year that he would always take something apart on his boat, screw it up, and then call me. I used to be short with him and ask "Why don't you call me first?" He would usually say something like "I didn't want to bother you." Now this is the second spring since he is gone and I find myself missing that call and sad with the recognition that it will never come again.
To complicate things I bought my first and current bass boat from my friend so it stands to reason that every spring I think of him a bit more than usual. Today was no exception. I got her in the garage over the weekend and got the jump on the season and want the boat ready to fish when the lakes open up. I got the garage up to 57 degrees and it's amazing how stubborn the ice is. This is going on three days and there is still ice on the floor of the boat. No biggie though. Today I got the batteries out and installed. This allowed me to check all of the electrical gear on the boat. I turned on the electronics and they were good, the trolling motor, lights, cockpit lighting, and operated the jack plate and trim. I was happy that everything so far worked without a hitch. The bilge pump that my cousin and I fixed last year just needed a new butt connector other than that, everything was good.
I also took the cover off the motor and removed the plugs and sprayed a little fogging fluid into the cylinders just to give a bit of extra lubrication for when I start her tomorrow or the next day.
The ice in the boat was almost gone and I got everything out of the cockpit and turned on The Blue Water LED Lighting System that I installed last year and this was working perfectly. I do like these lights and the blue LED's look great with the colors on the boat. I finished off with operating all electronics on the boat again, and everything seemed to be working great. I added air to the tires and shot some grease into the bearing buddy's so that when we are ready to go, the trailer components were good. All that's left is to check the trailer lighting and I will probably do that later this week.
I decided to organize my tackle today as well. I had no idea how much gear I have. I took out all tackle and cleaned out the compartments where the boxes were stored. I realized that I need nothing to start the season. I had all my lipless crankbaits as well as a healthy supply of soft plastics ready to go. I put everything on the deck and then got some of the lures that I bought several weeks ago into their compartments. Looked great and my tackle should be ready to go.
After I had completed all of these tasks today I could not help but feel like I was missing something. I couldn't put my finger on it , but I realized that I was not getting the call from my friend to come and fix something on his boat that he took apart and could not get back together. I felt strangely sad. I remember I used to feel irked sometimes when he would call because I knew something was going to be apart and need to be fixed. Two years ago, he got a new ranger and the center seat was a bit loose. Nothing bad, but it had a little wiggle to it. He took that baby apart and could not get it back together. He called and we had to take the whole cockpit apart to get this one little rivet and fix it. We got it and sure enough it was tight. He also let me install an HDS 12 on it at the console and I felt privileged because we had to drill a hole that had to be 2 inches into the gunnel to fit the wiring back to the transducer. I laughed when he said just do it, I won't be mad even if I have to get the fiberglass redone. Well, needless to say, I drilled and installed it and the unit came out amazing. We had a great spring and fished a lot. We also made plans to begin doing the Wednesday night tournaments on the chain because I wanted to get into tournament fishing. Well, I had no way of knowing but this was the last spring he would be around. In September, he was gone and I am still coming to terms with this loss. I have dealt with a lot of loss in my time being a veteran and a recovering drug addict but this one was particularly rough for me to process. I am working to remember the good times we had and how much he taught me about fishing without feeling sad but this is still almost impossible.
I am hopeful that this year will bring new adventures and some good times. I have some great things on the horizon and will be getting a new video camera to document the adventures as they occur and I also purchased some new gear for the gopro's and contours and should be able to add a lot to my fishing and hunting videos. I am also still recovering from the loss of my youtube channel but I got my new one up and running with a welcome video up. I am full of anticipation for ice out but I am finding this year, at this time, that reflection about the last two years is happening more than usual. Tony thanks for being my friend and fishing, talking and hanging out with me. In the time we knew each other, I learned a lot about fishing and am a better angler today because we met.