“One last cast.”
It’s the declaration of every angler whose head says it’s time to go home, but whose heart yearns to stay a little longer.
“One last cast.” I’ve said it myself a thousand times or more on the lakes, rivers and seas where I have experienced the thrills and chills that inspired words to share with you each of the past 1,625 weekends.
My hope is my weekly stories provided a bit of entertainment, a little education and maybe even some inspiration.
It was a not-so-tough job. The “research” was grueling, but I did it with a grin every hour I spent on Mosquito, Shenango, Berlin, Pymatuning, Milton, West Branch, Erie, Chautauqua, Pine, Evans, Hamilton, Seneca, Salt Fork, Dillon, Burt, Mullet, Conneaut, Wilhelm, Okeechobee, Trafford, Chickamauga, Logan Martin, High Rock, Louisiana Delta bayous, Chesapeake Bay, Hatteras inlet, Currituck Sound, Deer Creek, Dale Walborn, Alum Creek, Little Beaver Creek, Sandusky Bay, Presque Isle Bay, the Mahoning, Ohio, Cuyahoga, Black, Arkansas, Indian and James rivers, and the ponds of Glen Eagle Golf Course.
They were the venues that served as backdrops for my weekly tales. Each is special. Looking back, I remember the lessons I learned at each lake and river. Much of what I experienced was far beyond the nuts and bolts of fishing.
I am a better angler now than I was 31 years ago, the result of an innumerable number of hours immersed in on-the-water “work.” I like to think I also learned about dedication, perseverance, patience, determination, observation, intuition and analysis.
A lot of water has passed over the dam since 1988 when the Vindy’s Mike Braun convinced managing editor Paul Jagnow to bring on a new fishing columnist.
The column has endured the emergence of the internet, the Gulf War, Sept. 11, six U.S. presidents, three Cleveland Indians World Series, a Cleveland Cavaliers NBA championship, the departure of the Cleveland Browns and the arrival of the new Browns, the closure of the Lordstown GM assembly plant, a heart attack that resulted in my missing my weekly deadline and my retirement from the 9-to-5 world.
Two columns I wrote with our world in flames. Reeling at news that U.S. warplanes were bombing Iraq and again years later after hijacked jets were crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field near Somerset, Pa., I wrote about the inner peace we Americans are free to enjoy by retreating to our lakes and rivers.
Fishing is great medicine. In 2011, a doctor at St. Elizabeth Hospital told me my weekend fishing trip was canceled thanks to three clogged cardiac arteries. The doctors did a great job getting me back on my feet, but I also let readers in on my personal motivation to get back to the water. That first fish after I got out of the hospital is one I’ll never forget.
When I began writing this column, our daughter Betsy was a little girl finishing her kindergarten year at North Elementary School in Poland. Wife Barb was still a decade away from beginning her coaching career with high school golfers in Poland and Salem, and we had a little red Arrow Glass tri-hull as our fishing boat.
Today, Betsy is a great success thriving in Columbus with her husband. Barb still enjoys watching her “golf children” compete, but now as spectator instead of coach. And the glittery red and white BassCat is always ready for another day on the lake.
Thank you for reading. I’ll watch for you out on the lakes.
So today I say it again: “One last cast.” And when the line is finally reeled in, the eternal optimist that resides in the soul of every angler looks forward to tomorrow, a new day full of promise for success in whatever way you measure it.
Jack Wollitz thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to write for Vindicator readers for the past 31 years and thanks all who have invested a few minutes with his column each week. He also enjoys emails from readers. Send a note to Jack at firstname.lastname@example.org.