Saturday, March 3, 2018

91 Stratos and missing a friend

This entry finds me in one of the most difficult and one of the best times in my fishing career. A few weeks back I made the decision to sell my 1991 Stratos All Pro Spitfire Edition. It was a decision made partly because I have been bitten by the bass boat bug and know that I want to upgrade into a newer, and a bit nicer version. This boat has an interesting story behind it though and is why I say it is a difficult time as well. I came into this boat when my friend Tony, who was as crazy as I am, told me that I should buy it for my first bass boat. This was in the beginning of the year right after ice out 4 years ago. Tony told me to save up the money for the boat and I agreed because this seemed like a great first bass boat.

Well cut to about two weeks later and we were talking and he was like "You got the money for the boat?" I was like "No, you said you were going to sell it next year." Well Tony being Tony, could not stand going from the boat he just sold, a Ranger 521 into this boat. So my parents helped me out with some money, while I was selling my duck boat so that I could purchase the rig. In May, we finalized the sale and I had my first bass boat.

Unfortunately, later that year my buddy took his own life and to this day I feel like maybe I could have done more to help him so he would still be around. I am a counselor and had a difficult time reconciling that I could not make a difference so he would see the value of his own life. I guess when it comes down to it, he had made the choice and once that happens, not much can be done to stop this kind of thing from happening no matter how hard one tries. He taught me a lot about bass fishing and I am grateful to this day that he turned me onto bass fishing because I had always been a walleye and musky guy.

Cut to the present and about a month ago I made the decision to sell the boat. Now I know that the price I was asking was going to make the rig move quick but I had no Idea how quick. I had a club meeting with my local bass club, The Cast Nation and started to spread the word. I really had no takers but a call from my friend Chris came later that night asking about the boat. He said that his other friend Mike might be interested. I had no idea how interested. The next day Mike gave me a call and we wound up meeting that night, and just like that the boat was sold. Now I know Mike and he's a good dude so I'm glad that he got the boat because I know he will fish the crap out of it and take good care of it. I was not ready for the myriad of feelings that would come up as a result of the sale though.

I was immediately feeling a bit depressed that this boat was no longer going to reside in my garage. I didn't even recognize why. You would figure being in the helping profession I would have been able to spot feelings coming up but even though I'm a counselor, it's difficult to see the process when you are in the process. Anyway, it really hit me this week when The Braidwood Nuclear Power Plant opened. Now I have fished this opening every year for the past three seasons and now not only was my boat sold, I would miss the opening. I did go and that was less than a good trip due to not catching very many fish but reflecting on my feelings toward my friend not being around for the past few years. It's weird how feelings like this just creep in and one does not see them affecting their mood or life.

I know that I will be able to find another rig because my dad has expressed interest in going in with me on a new boat, but until that happens, I can't help but wonder why my buddy did what he did those couple years ago and what our relationship would be now. I guess we all move on in our own ways and I have fought the moving on process because I feel like I am forgetting him in a way. Selling the boat that I bought from him I guess confirmed that thought but when I look at it, I had some great times on the water with him and will never forget that. Just never take your fishing partners for granted because the next time you hit the water, they might not be there with you. I have the knowledge that he gave me and I can still hear him when I'm trying to skip a dock and I throw way too hard, cast it easier and use your wrist. I hope to eventually remember these times only and not the way he tragically took his own life. He was a good dude and I still miss him to this day. Funny how long these things can linger on in our mind.

Thanks for reading and this is just one more way that I can process my feelings in a healthy way. I know that whether I'm on the water or writing about issues that confront my life, or spending way too much on fishing gear, these are all very healthy alternatives compared to my coping skills in the past. My wife might put up a little protest about this notion but she has been a great support and I think recognized the positivity that fishing in general has brought into our lives.

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