As I approach my 49th birthday in February, I’m pretty certain that I’m past the halfway the point of my life. Even if I’m not run over by a bus, killed by some woman’s jealous husband, or burned in a freak kiln accident, basic actuarial tables tell me that there’s a pretty good chance I’ve got about 30 trips around the sun until I’m worm food.
During my 49 years of fogging a mirror, and the last 15 or so in particular, I’ve had the opportunity to visit many of America’s best bass fisheries, and I’ve engaged in my share of international and exotic travel to fish – Alaska, Costa Rica, Brazil, Zambia and so on.
I’ve also seen some of the guys who got me started pass into senior citizenship and eventually pass away. Most of them were physically able to travel and fish until close to the end. I spent dozens of winter weekends at my friend Harold Pack’s lake house before he died. My friend Alden “Colvo” Colvocoresses fished almost right up to the end, before dying at 88. If no one invited him to go, well into his eighties he’d hitch up his aluminum rig to his VW camper van and head to the lake.
Colvo was a veteran of three wars (WW2, Korea and Vietnam) and spent his final years at the Falcons Landing military retirement community – which went fine until he took one of his fellow retirees to the lake. At the end of the day, Colvo tied up his boat, backed in the trailer and then asked his buddy to pull him out. He loaded the boat on the trailer expertly and gave his friend to “Go” signal, at which point his friend punched the gas pedal – not realizing that the transmission was still in reverse. The van plunged into the drink and while they both escaped unharmed, Colvo had to call a wrecker to retrieve his vehicle.
I don’t want to spend my last days retrieving a tow vehicle from a shallow cove, but otherwise I’d like to emulate the way Harold and Colvo lived, fishing until they were unable to do so. Assuming that my demise does not come tomorrow, I hope to have many more memorable trips far and wide, but it’s also important to think about where you’d make your last casts.
If you only had one day left to fish, where would it be? Is there some place that has sentimental value to you, perhaps where you caught your first or biggest fish, or would you want to go someplace altogether new?
Obviously, most of us won’t know the precise date, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot, and I’m hoping that it will cause me to be present from here on out. The issue is not so much whether my last fish is a palm-sized bluegill, a 12-inch smallmouth, a 20-pound peacock or a 700 pound bluefin, but rather that I’ve lived a life well-fished.