Sometimes Older is Better?

Fishing Stories
My sister Bonnie and my husband Jerry enjoying a day out on the lake with me.
My sister Bonnie and my husband Jerry enjoy a day out on the lake with me.

I’ve written about memories that inspire new ones and how we can go forward by looking back in previous articles. If you see the value of learning from the past, perhaps spending time with someone older than you may benefit. You can rarely go wrong by observing or consulting with people who have already been there and done that, especially regarding your job, marriage, and parenting skills.

If you were to ask me for my opinion about anything I would probably have some good advice. However, experience has taught me not to advise unless asked for it freely. Unfortunately, it's usually too late when some people ask for advice. They want you to act as an attorney or are looking for rescue. Isn’t that how we learned some of our lessons? It is tempting to persuade people to vote, believe, and eat, but wisdom tells me to stick with fishing these days.

Reviewing the past:

Back in the 60s and ’70s, our family went trout fishing on camping trips a couple of times a year. We didn’t do much catching in those days, mainly because we didn’t know what we were doing. When we did catch a fish, it was a reward for lots of hard work and ingenuity. That may explain why most of the Martens are considered good anglers today. When we couldn’t catch fish, we blamed the weather, not having a boat, or inferior tackle. We would even claim the fish weren’t there. I’m confident that if catching fish had been our number one goal, we would have given up years ago.

I believe adversity helped us find fish and figure out how to catch them. We depended on TV shows with guys like Hank Parker, Jerry McGinnis, Bill Dance, and Roland Martin to teach and inspire us in those early years. They were the experts, shared many techniques, and kept fishing fun. I’m proud to say we’ve had the privilege to get to know all these pioneers and still learn from them today.

Jerry was always happy when he had food on the boat
Jerry was always happy when he had food on the boat.

If you fished as a young person, there’s another critical factor to remember. You probably had someone older take you fishing on a river or lake with their tackle, and it was likely a parent, sibling, or neighbor. I’m willing to bet they liked fishing as much or more than you and bestowed on you all their knowledge, enthusiasm, and encouragement. Sadly, many kids today have no one to take them fishing, and hats off to you and all the organizations taking kids fishing. On a side note, I have found a couple of organizations that hold fishing events for kids and love tackle donations. If you are overloaded with fishing gear, look around you for an organization that accepts donations. Schools, clubs, scouts, and churches are perfect examples. Besides a great sense of satisfaction, it could be a nice tax deduction for you as well.

Consider the options:

Taking kids fishing can be fun, but maybe there’s a senior out there who would love to go fishing, and there’s no one to take them. I’m blessed to have many opportunities to fish with others or by myself. I still have my Ranger/Mercury rig and Ford F-150 truck if I want alone time on the lake or to take a friend. I’ll go fishing anytime over baking cookies or knitting! How many great-grandmas can say that? For many years, my grandson Justin and fishing partner once said to me as I was launching my boat, “You sure are spry grandma!” That declaration alone keeps me spry and fishing today.

Maybe the friendliest and most thoughtful thing you can do is take someone you know and respect fishing with you. If they happen to be older or disabled, it will be more challenging with essential things to consider. While outdoors, hydration is a significant factor for everyone but even more critical for the elderly and disabled, so have plenty of water with you. Another is accessible bathroom facilities which can be the biggest challenge. Maneuvering a shoreline or being on a boat can also be tricky, and every possible scenario must be considered. A cane, walker, or wheelchair can add needed stability in many situations.

Jerry got really cold way before I did on this one of his last times on my boat.
Jerry got frigid way before I did one of his last times on my boat.

Today, many launch ramps have railings and ramps to assist elderly and disabled people board a boat. When I used to take my husband fishing, I had other guys there to help lift him in and out of the boat. For immobile, their comfort and safety needs must be met. You will want to avoid extreme heat or cold and be prepared for weather changes with proper clothing and sun protection. And find out ahead of time how long they want to be out and plan accordingly, always keeping an eye out for fatigue. Above all, keep in mind that this trip is for them and their enjoyment. You can revel in the satisfaction of a job well done and the reward of creating a great memory for both of you.

Memories are golden:

After my husband Jerry passed in Feb. 2015, Aaron invited me in April to go with him to the Elite event at the Sacramento Delta. My grandson Justin was with us, and we found multiple ways to help Aaron even though we couldn’t fish with him. Our hotel room was close enough to the ramp that Justin could launch him in the mornings and bring the rig back to our room, and then the two of us would pick Aaron up for the weigh-in. Aaron got a second-place as fate would have it, and Justin Lucas came in first. It was special because Justin Lucas, also from that area of California, had patterned his career goals after his hero Aaron. This was indeed a storybook event with a delighted ending and, as a senior myself, one of my happiest memories. It wasn’t over. The best was yet to come.

Aaron receiving winners trophy from mom on Mothers Day at Lake Havasu
Aaron received the winner's trophy from mom on Mothers Day at Lake Havasu.

We all returned to my home in West Hills to regroup, and Aaron and Justin took off the next day for Lake Havasu for another Elite tournament. My friend, Liz, and I took my boat and truck a few days later to Havasu to fish on our own during the tournament. I love Havasu, and it has been years since I fished there. Of course, we stayed away from the 100-plus tournament guys, and remarkably we found and caught more fish than most of them. My gut feeling for this lake was still there and working.

One day we went looking for Aaron upriver to the main lake and found him fishing on a reef and watched and chatted with him for a while. We didn’t stay long, although I found out later that he loves it when people watch him fish and enjoys the company as long as they don’t fish his spots. After the tournament, we learned that Aaron only fished the outside reefs until a particular time of the day and then went to the tulles and caught big fish on his blackbird pattern.

That pattern catapulted him to a dynamic win with lots of enormous bass. The most exciting part of this story was that he won on Mother’s Day, and the Tournament Director Trip Weldon thought it appropriate to have me present the trophy to Aaron. Those two weeks and 2015 turned out to be Aaron’s best season so far and a history-making one in BASS. Aaron started that year on a low because his dad died the night before the Classic in February, but God is good, and everything turned around for him.

Never the end:

On this happy note, I’ll close for now in the hopes that I have in some way inspired and helped you to bless someone else in your life. Yes, YOU!