You know how old friends or their acquaintances pop into your life. Well, this just happened to me at Flint Creek the other day, about a friend who was my best new fishing buddy 31 years ago.
It’s 1987 and I’m working full-time for Mr. Duncan at MacRae’s Bait House in Homosassa, Fl. Plus I was guiding part-time. One day a man comes in to rent a boat slip. He just bought a new 31’ Baha Cruiser Sportfisherman and wanted to begin chartering it.
His name is Tim and he was from Indiana. He knew nothing about saltwater fishing. He ask me if I knew of a guide who would help him out. I’m sitting on a stool behind the classic glass showcase counter and he’s standing across from me. I momentarily looked behind me where rows of tackle hung on the walls to think of what I was going to say. Then turned to face him and answered his question. Yes, me, with a smile.
So a friendship began. We were partners and with both of us avid admirers of fishing it was the perfect match. Tim was a big hit among Gator, Kevin and those of us who worked or hung around the bait house. You know how it is when you have a new friend when everything is perfect.
Tim named his new boat “My Hat”, short for My Hatteras. In case you don’t know, Hatteras Boats/Yachts are one of the best sport fisherman made similar to Bertram. The Baha was a real beauty and stood out among the smaller size boats on the river at 31-feet long.
Tim owned a bait and tackle shop outside Indianapolis. He worked long hours, 7 days a week and saved enough to buy a mobile home on a small lake near the Ocala National Forest. His plans were to spend the winters here. In a 38’ Holiday Rambler with a Jeep and bass boat in tow here he came. I have never that configuration even to this day.
Tim was a passionate fisherman. He did his homework and began largemouth bass fishing in the lakes spread through the huge forest. 10-12” long Wild Shiners. One day he invited me over to his retreat to fish. Upon walking up I saw an oversized concrete live well tank maybe 12’ x 4’. In the center was a commercial aerator, wild shiners and 1 bass easily over 10-pounds.
Tim came out the door and signaled me to come in. Once inside, I looked across the entrance hanging from a ceiling were 5 bass over 10# mounted all way around on a stringer. I never will forget that. Of course, back then a camera was not part of my gear unfortunately. But, back then, fishing was way more important than messing with a camera.
So, we headed out and went to one of the lakes he knew well and tried our luck. We chucked the huge baits maybe 20 feet. A 5/0 Khale hook below a 2” round natural cork. Had to be a natural cork with no paint on it. And Tim trolled us around the edge of the lily pads.
That day the weather may have been a little too pretty for the 10+ bass to be hungry. However a 5-pounder ate my shiner and kept us from drawing a goose egg.
I have a lot of stories about Tim and his “My Hat” and plan to write about the good ones in the future. I still find the odds slim to none for Tim’s partner who I never met walk into Flint Creek. While his wife shopped, we talked.
Tim’s partner and his wife came here because of a magazine article that touted Dade City as a lovely and quaint sleepy little town full of history. Tim passed on at the age of 42.