Beyond the Banks

Inspiration comes in many forms, and to be brutally honest, it has been about as absent from my writing as musical talent at the Grammy’s. It’s sad I know, even despite a journal full of topics. However a simple story took shape last week that not only renewed my faith in society, but inspired me to set aside some time and share it with you in this blog post.

As angler’s, we get so caught up in scheduling that next trip, catching that next trophy or impressing social media followers with pictures provoking jealous onlookers to “Wish they were fishin’.” However, as my blog name suggest, there is a raw “Truth” that lies within the angling realm. Despite having made a name for ourselves to stretch the truth, Angler’s at the core, are genuine and loyal. After all, there must’ve been a reason Christ chose fisherman to be his first disciples, right? I wonder if they we’re good trout fisherman? J I digress, but what I do know is fishing, and the qualities that anglers possess sometimes extend beyond understanding the tide or what lure to throw, and manifest well beyond the oyster laden banks. In this case it started about two weeks ago on a Mississippi outdoorsman forum, www.bullnettlenews.com

For many of you that have never been part of a fishing forum, they serve two general purposes…to give and get information. However, on “The Bull” it has morphed into a fellowship forum that often times has little to do with “How to catch them?” and more to do with “How are you doing?” In short, its like a cyber version of the 80’s show Cheers, but instead of yelling Norm when the main character walks in, we yell “SJ!!” SJ, or Jimmy Barnes, has become the teacher and we are his students when it comes to trout fishing, but in addition to his superb angling ability, he’s a superb human being, and a good man. However he is not alone. Many others on the site share his “down home attitude” and possess qualities that I’m certain make our four father’s proud, and better yet they vary in age.

So when a thread titled, “Lost tackle bag bay harbor…not mine” showed up on the main forum, it didn’t take long for people to chime in looking to help. The original post was simple…it was a mother’s plea asking other anglers to keep an eye out for her Forgetful Son’s lost tackle bag. In fact, it wasn't even the mom that posted it was someone who copied and pasted it from the Local Fishing Reports Fishing facebook wall.

At first, my reaction to the post probably reflects your “so what’s the big deal about this” view. However after a week, 5 pages of replies and 2,000 views I decided to revisit the thread and get caught up. I’m glad I did. In one week, 3 Bull members, took it upon themselves to set up a donation table at the Biloxi Boat and RV Show at the Coliseum, and others were itching to donate and get this young man back on the water. It was truly a collaborative effort that ranged from setting up free admission for the mom and son, to working with the event center staff on the table reservation. I was in awe at everyone’s generosity, but I wasn’t surprised. It was like the story was unfolding in real life, and I was anxious particularly to see how it ended.

The phrase, a picture is worth a thousand words certainly holds weight in this case, below are some pictures of the bull members, the young boy and the generosity of the anglers across Coastal Mississippi (represented by the tackle on the table).

However, it would be unjust if I leave the conclusion to this blog post to just pictures. Instead, I will let another bull forum member, huntingrev, take us home and offer some perspective …after all, and contrary to popular belief, fishing sometimes extends way beyond its banks.
Huntingrev:
“I have been busy and haven't been on here in several days so sadly I am too late to get involved this time, but I would like to say: In reality, this (tackle donation) has nothing to do with fishing. Sure it involves fishermen and fishing tackle but it really isn't about fishing. What you guys are giving goes beyond lures and hooks, line and gear. The fishing line will tangle, the lures will be broken-off and the gear will eventually be worn and discarded. This “forgetful boy” will forget which lure caught which fish. He will forget more fishing spots than he will remember. This “forgetful boy” will forget to clean his room, forget his homework and his books. He will one day forget an appointment, a deadline and a return call. He may even, one day, forget an important birthday or anniversary date. But one thing’s for sure, this “forgetful boy” will never forget what a group of men did for him when he forgot his tackle bag and lost his gear.
In reality, this has nothing to do with fishing. More than hooks and lures -- you are giving hope and love. I know nothing about this boy or this family but I do know a little about people. Today this boy will smile and this mom will cry.

-- He will smile because of the lures he received, she will cry because of the love he received.

-- He will smile and dream of catching “the big one”. She will cry because she knows, in reality he already has.

-- He will be excited because he sees gear. She will be emotional because she sees grace.

Yesterday, they were discouraged -- today they are encouraged.
In reality, this has nothing to do with fishing.

More than a fishing spot and better than a fishing lesson -- you guys are giving him a “life-lesson” -- one he will never forget.

Today, you didn’t make him a better fisherman -- today, you made him a better man.”

Light a light...Be a Light everyone. Tight Lines and God Bless!

Chris