My fishing buddy, the chairman of the board

When one walks along the rim of the autumn of one’s life, they can’t help but to look back to the yesterdays – the “good old days.” At the same time one questions if the “tomorrows” will also be filled with equal memories, when they too become the yesterdays.

I suggest everyone should take time to reflect, and never lose grip of the yesterdays. Sitting here in front of my campfire on the northern shores of Georgian Bay, I grasp at memories of yesterdays. They are pleasing, rich in stories and friendships.

There is a contentment and a peace of mind, but then there are also reflections of sadness, for this is opening day of the bass season and truly I miss my old fishing buddy Bob Ovell, the “Chairman of the Board.”

Oh I guess I have fished with better fishermen than the Chairman of the Board, such as my friend Dan Thomey, the former publisher of the Ontario Outdoor Magazine. There was also Ab Hutchinson of Orillia, Ontario, who could out cast the best of fishermen. And last, but not least, are my sons Dave, Kevin and Kim, who I played every trick in the book to beat them, in this disease called “fishing.”

Some, no doubt would claim that they were brought up on more fishing rods and lures than baby bottles.

The Chairman of the Board was quite different from them all, as those who knew Bob will attest to. When Bob was secretary of the Orillia Fish and Game Club, as well as my secretary of Zone 5 of the Ontario Fish and Game Federation, he was addressed as “The Chairman of the Board.” This stuck with him – at official functions and on fishing and camping trips. It always seems that in the long run, be it official, or who would pour the 8 and 18, you had to answer to the Chairman of the Board.

I have to admit, the Chairman of the Board was a wise man, as it was he who introduced me to that fine whisky 8 and 18. A fine alcoholic drink found only here in Canada.

Our local group of friends all had travel trailers, and enjoyed the outdoors. As well, we all belonged to a square dancing group.

Bob and I had other things in common, such as the inner contents of my oversized tackle box.

The Chairman of the Board ingeniously convinced our wives that we should go on weekend camping trips at some parks that had areas for dancing – and he would push for campgrounds near small communities that had “want not stores” to attract the ladies to go shopping.

By some mystic means the selected park also just happened to produce some fantastic bass fishing waters. Now, you just have to give the devil his due: the Chairman of the Board was a very wise man for picking such great places to go – shall we say – square dancing.I can remember only too well one outing at Butterfly Lake, just a couple loud whistles and a holler south of Lake St. Joseph in Muskoka’s Lake Region of Ontario. We had just returned from an early morning’s bass fishing outing and I walked over to my trailer, poured myself a cup of tea, grabbed a couple cookies and put them on the table just outside of the trailer. I went in the trailer to get my fishing magazine, but when I came back outside to drink my tea, the Chairman of the Board was drinking my tea and helping himself to my homemade cookies.

He casually looked up at me and said, “It’s almost high noon. Going to pour us a couple of 8 and 18?”

It sounded more like an instructional statement than a question and from past experiences, I knew I might as well forget about my tea and cookies and pour those fine drinks as the Chairman had, shall I say, suggested. I poured the drinks and started back to the park table. The Chairman of the Board was telling the ladies, and others, who had gathered around to listen to his tales, of how he limited out on the bass and lowly Murray only caught a couple, hardly acceptable, small fish. He explained that I was not using the right lures and his were far superior to mine. Hell yes, his lures were better than mine, as the ones he was using he stole out of my tackle box the night before.

Now the word “stolen” the Chairman of the Board would contest, saying that I had left my tackle box open and explaining that determining the best lures would be for him to decide. “Pretty damn sure of your facts, are you Murray?” the Chairman blurted. “Well, I will just have to see for myself.”

He then reached into my tackle box (of no less than 500 lures) and took what I had said to be the best bass lures and put them in his own tackle box, of which many other lures in his box looked very similar to what I once had owned.

Tackle box or junk box?

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