Walleye Open - what does it mean to you?
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  1. #1
    Big Old Bass
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    105

    Walleye Open - what does it mean to you?

    I haven't missed the walleye opening in over 35 years…

    In the early days of the Napanee Rod and Gun Clubs Walleye Derby, my Dad and I would start fishing from shore at Spring Side Park Falls once the clock hit midnight, throwing Rapalas and jigs until 5 am. We’d then pack up our gear and head out on the water in whatever boat we had, to fish more. Late afternoon, we'd go back to shore, eat, get a few hours’ sleep in the truck and once again, hit the Falls until just before light, just to do it all again.

    It was always a blast and some of my best memories of fishing with him. We never missed it and by the time he would drop me off at home on Sunday, I'd be so tired and land sick that I'd actually be sick to my stomach. My Mom wouldn’t be too happy with my state but all the while, I’d be throwing up with a big smile and off to bed knowing I'd just experienced the some of the best times I'd ever had.

    Along the way, we upgraded from sleeping in his truck and fishing from a canoe, to staying in a tent with a tin boat and rented 5 hp motor, to most recently, staying in a trailer with a Ranger bass boat. The comforts may have changed but I’d give it all up to be back at those early years and hear him snoring in his truck, parked at the Napanee Harbour while I’m still throwing crank baits from shore.

    We were getting older but you know, I never noticed that part until recently reflecting on our past Opens. In the past few years, Dad’s physical limitations changed after suffering many strokes. There were of course times that he was uncertain about us doing our traditional opening. He was thinking that being in a wheelchair was becoming a pain and trouble for me when the only real changes, were helping him in and out of the boat. Even that, as crazy as it sounds, added to our great memories. More than once he fell out of his wheelchair or took a tumble. He always laughed, dusted himself off and asked for me to “pole vault him up there again!”

    We knew we could never stop and had more than our fair share of fishing, adventures and a lot of experiences. Most you couldn’t even make up, imagine or would believe me if I told you. As we got older, there was what I would now like to think of as graceful changes. Although we still spent the weekend together, the walleye open wasn’t about fish but more of an excuse to bond and enjoy our Father / Son time together.

    This year the opening will be much different. Unfortunately, my Dad passed away last summer. Every day I think about and miss him. This will be the first for me fishing the Walleye Open without him. I know I'll be thinking about him a lot, speaking his name with a smile, telling our stories and probably get teary eyed like I am writing this. I won’t let this be a time of sadness though. It will be a time to reflect on how fortunate I am to have spent time with a man that took me fishing. Sure this man was my biological Father but thru our enthusiasm and passion of fishing, he became my Dad, my friend, my hero!

    I have a different group that will be joining me this year. Even though it will be a big change, I still feel very fortunate. Although not really into fishing as much as I, they’ve been my closest friends for 20 + years and are more like my Brothers.

    When I asked them to join me, I could sense they were hesitant. They too knew and loved my Dad and I’m sure there was a bit of uncertainty as to what to expect having heard the tales of Dad’s and I past Opens. They also knew that I vowed to continue and never miss the Open in honour of him. However, I explained that I’m not looking for a fishing group to get up early, fish all day and take an endurance beating, but interested in an adventure of sorts. The Opening for me a long time ago had changed from trying to catch the most and biggest fish, to an opportunity of making memories and having fun in any conditions with those that you’re with.

    As I’ve said, I haven’t missed the Walleye Open in 35+ years but this year I will miss my fishing partner, my strangest and best friend, my Father. No matter how, who or where the Open happens, I know my Dad will always be there in spirit. This gives me the ability to look forward to a new chapter knowing he will be smiling above at Peace.

    Although the process will be much different with planning, packing and setting up, it will be the best of times. The sounds, the smell and the faces will be different but the gathering of people seeking adventure of the Walleye Open will be the same.

    Sure, I know even now that I won’t like how quickly the weekend will go, but I can honestly say that I’m looking forward to enjoying the days and coming home on Sunday with new stories.

    What does the Walleye Open mean to you???


    dad and I walleye open.jpg

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  3. #2
    Administrator John Whyte's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    580
    Your father was a memorable guy and the type of person stories are made of. Sorry he is gone but I hope the opener still has some electricity even though as you say, there has been many graceful changes. Sorry I couldn't make it this year but we will get our week in as usual.
    After 250 days a year on the water and ice I still feel I need more Time on the Water

  4. #3
    Big Old Bass
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    105
    Thanks John.

    It was a lot of fun with you, Roy and us last year. He really appreciated the weekend and hanging out time.

    I'm looking forward to getting back out again with you.

    Cheers

  5. #4
    Minnow
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    11
    Great read. I think any of us that have lost their dad has a similar story. I commend you for keeping the tradition alive. Its always tough losing a fishing buddy. So much time of telling stories and having fun while being able to land a couple fish. I lost my dad/fishing buddy/hunting buddy/ best buddy almost 4 years now. Its gets easier Legacey.

    Sent from my A0001 using Tapatalk

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