Fishing friendships treasured

From Wikipedia: “Although there are many forms of friendship, some of which may vary from place to place, certain characteristics are present in many types of friendship.
“Such characteristics include affection, sympathy, empathy, honesty, altruism, mutual understanding and compassion, enjoyment of each other’s company, trust, and the ability to be oneself, express one’s feelings, and make mistakes without fear of judgment from the friend.”
I was trying to determine how one might describe friendship. It is a difficult. Even trying to fathom how friendships are created is mind-numbing.
We all make friends. Some friends are in our neighborhoods; other friends are in our communities. Many maybe thousands of miles away yet they remain friends. Through letters, phone calls, and e-mails we remain in contact.
On Monday, I spent the day fishing with my good friend, Phil Bangert. I’ve known Phil for almost 20 years and though our age difference is quite considerable, I really enjoy his company.
He has been our guest at our cabin for years, and has introduced many new friends to us from Missouri.
Over the course of those many years, Phil has challenged me to become a better bass fisherman. And on Monday, he gave me a lesson on fishing blow-down trees on Lake of the Woods with long ribbon-tailed plastic worms.
I always have been leery of fishing those fallen rotting trees in the water, having lost many crankbaits to the timber.
But patiently he rigged my line and taught me the fundamentals. I was his pupil and he was my teacher.
In his column in the Times this week, Jeff Gustafson writes about the friendships that have formed around fishing. It is quite a fraternity. At the public landing in Sioux Narrows early Monday morning, I ran into Joe Pritchard who for many years fished the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship with his partner, Hiram Archibald.
Joe is a gentle giant with a passion for fishing and can give anyone a lesson on catching large mouth bass on Lake of the Woods. We greeted each other warmly as friends from the Fort Frances tournament.
This week will again be a meeting of old friends in the run-up to the annual “Bassin’ For Bucks” tournament at Sioux Narrows. Age differences are unknown. Whether young or young at heart, fishermen gather to compete but also for the enjoyment of each other’s company.
Competitive fishing is as much a social gathering as it is a competition.
Stories will be shared and ideas exchanged. Up until competition day, everyone will claim the biggest bags of fish. Truth will find its way to the weigh-ins beginning Friday afternoon.
By then, the community of Sioux Narrows will gather to mingle with the fishermen who now come annually to their doorstep the weekend following Labour Day.
Many of those fishermen have become family to the community, and will have shared meals in their homes and cabins in the days leading up to the tournament. Many of those fishermen also have invited those same families back to their homes in Winnipeg and down in the States for visits.
Fishing tournaments create lasting bonds and friendships. As I left the parking lot Monday night after a meal with Phil, we embraced each other and he said, “I have made such wonderful friends through fishing.”
I have to admit the same. My life is richer for the friendships that have developed in a fishing boat.

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