Fifteen years ago my life would take a turn that no one in my family saw coming. I remember sitting in class at school when all the sudden I looked to the door, and there stood a family friend of mine with the school principal. I had no idea what to expect. Being a child at the time I started to think back to all the bad things I had done, and wondered what I possibly could have done to this particular friend. As I approached them outside the door, I saw tears rolling down her face and at that point, I knew I had really messed up bad. The principal closed the classroom door and that is when I got the news. She told me that my grandpa had been run over by a truck, and was in ICU in the hospital.
My grandpa has been my hero for as long as I can remember. He bought me my first BB gun and taught me how to shoot cans in the backyard. We used to go on fishing trips every year down the Uwharrie River which is where I learned how to fish. He is, and always has been one of the strongest people I have ever met. The entire time on the ride to the hospital, I remember thinking back on all the things we used to do together, and wishing that we were back in that canoe floating the Uwharrie River one more time.
When I got to the hospital I saw him lying there in the bed, hooked up to all kinds of tubes and machines, and he was not responding to anyone. When I went in the room I remember my Mom telling him that I was there with him. At that time, everyone in the room saw his face light up, and even with the tubes and machines he was hooked up to, you could see a smile. It was at that time that I knew our adventures were far from over.
The doctors predicted that he would spend about six months in the hospital. He had broken all of his ribs in multiple locations, shattered his shoulder, lost part of his lungs, lost his spleen, and had a tracheotomy. During his recovery, the nurses and doctors began calling him superman, because of how well he was doing. No one could believe that someone with all of his injuries could be healing so well and so fast. After only six weeks in the hospital, my grandpa was being released and sent home from the hospital.
I would say, less than twenty-four hours after my grandpa’s release from the hospital, he decided it was time for him to buy a bass boat. This is where my addiction to bass fishing began. We started going to the lake whenever we had free time. Back then I had no idea how to throw a bait caster, but he told me if I was going to fish on his boat, I would have to learn. Once I mastered the bait caster, fishing finally got fun again! Over the years, we have made so many incredible memories on the water together, that I can’t imagine where either one of us would be without bass fishing.
This past weekend, my grandpa and I got the opportunity to fish our first bass fishing tournament together. It just so happened that the tournament was on Badin Lake. Badin Lake is one of the very first lakes I remember going to with my grandpa when he got his boat. We have both fished Badin hundreds of times together over the years, and some of my wildest and crazy fish stories hail from that lake. I have fished tournaments before, but this was going to be my grandpa’s first tournament experience.
Tournament morning rolled around, and I don’t think I have ever been more excited to fish a tournament. The weather did exactly what we were hoping for all week, and it seemed as though everything was falling into place for us. Now we just had to get out there and put the fish in the boat.
We have a secret spot on Badin, and when it is on, there is no better fishing in the world. When we pulled up to our spot first thing in the morning, all the conditions were perfect for catching big fish. We were both so excited by what we saw; we couldn’t wait to get our lines in the water. We figured we would spend the entire day there until we eventually got tired of catching fish, so we would just head back to weigh-ins. That however, was not the case. We did not even get a bite! We knew we had to move and try something else, so we hit a couple of our other favorite spots and quickly picked up a three pounder, a four and a half pounder.
We spent the rest of the day fishing all of our other go to spots, with no luck. We tried everything. Around twelve o’clock, I knew we needed to make something happen, and needed to make it happen fast. We decided to head back over to our secret spot even though it didn’t produce for us early. This would turn out to be one of the best fishing decisions either of us have ever made!
My third cast back at our secret spot, I caught a four pounder and turned to my grandpa and said “we are about to have some fun!” Fun is an understatement for what was about to go down. Once I got the boat set up right, we were catching a fish every single cast. Every fish we caught for the next hour was over three pounds, with most of them being over four. I am not sure if I will ever get tired of catching fish, but after fishing there for an hour, I was physically tired from catching so many quality fish. Every fish we put in the boat, we let out a big Mike Iaconelli roar, landed a big fist bump, and just laughed together. We could not believe how many fish we were catching, and how much fun we were having. I have fished that spot a hundred times, and have never had a day that even compares to this day.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and it was time to head back for weigh-in. We knew we had some good fish in the live-well and we were excited to put our fish on the scales, but I don’t think either one of us even cared at that point. The entire ride back to the ramp, we just laughed, and kept going on about how awesome the last hour of fishing had been (I think my knuckles are still bruised from all of the fist bumps). We got back and took our fish to the scales, which ended up weighing in at 19.49 lbs. It was good enough for a third place finish, and we only missed the big fish by .02 ounces. Even though we didn’t win, I know I will never forget the memories that we made together this day.
If you ever get the opportunity to go to my grandpa’s house, one of the first things you will see when you walk in the door is the words “Carpe Diem”. Ever since his accident, those two little words took on a whole new meaning for me. Don’t ever take anything for granted and cherish every second of your life. Life is too short to put things off until tomorrow, so get out there now and “Seize the Day”.