Grace Caldwell – For the Love of Fishing

Berkley Springs Fishing Team at Nationals
Berkley Springs Fishing Team at Nationals
Berkley Springs Fishing Team at Nationals

For the Love of Fishing

By Grace Caldwell

Imagine being 800 miles away from home. You are getting ready to fish the biggest tournament of your career so far. You have excellent pre-fishing days and the night before the tournament, the boat breaks down. This is an angler’s worst nightmare playing out in real life. I want to tell you about an event just like the one I describe and how two determined anglers faced adversity with their head held high and allowed their love of the sport to prevail in trying times.

My junior high teammates, Trevor Albanese and Sam Ambrose, and their captain Shane Ambrose faced several setbacks on their way to Tennessee for the Junior Bassmasters National Championship and this was just about the worst thing that could happen. Rather than wallow in misfortune, the team forged ahead and competed the first day of the tournament despite the boat’s lower unit problems. They were fortunate enough to run into a man and his family who were there with their son, another junior competitor, who had brought his boat as a secondary backup for their Virginia team. Mr. Jeff Hedricks offered his boat to our team after our captain spoke with him and found out he lives less than an hour away. Who does this?

Who would be so kind as to offer his boat so that these boys could fish? With all of the selfishness in this world, there are people out there who care enough to help. Our team can vouch for it. When I spoke to Jeff, it became evident that he provided the boat for the “love of fishing”. Jeff said “I was imagining my team being in the same situation and since we are practically neighbors, I wanted to lend a helping hand. It’s for the kids and it’s all about them.”

Now as anglers, we all know how important our boats are. Some of us consider them to be an extension of our families. They are wiped down upon exiting the water, cleaned, covered and organized. A lot weighs on the boats. The boat determines access to the waters, speed, live wells–not just looking good. I was amazed that a fellow angler would allow us to use his boat. I understand how difficult it would be for me to give my boat to someone, let alone a person I didn’t even know.

I would think that my teammates will now see the importance of “paying it forward” to keep the generosity going. We need to keep the sportsmanship strong and keep the “love of fishing” going. Think about the effect this one act of kindness can have on a young angler. I spoke with Sam and Trevor recently.

Trevor said “it made me feel good to know that there are complete strangers that are willing and happy to help you everywhere you go”. Sam stated that “if this situation happens in the future, he would be more willing to do the same.” Their boat captain, Shane, spoke about what an upstanding guy Jeff was to do this and that they couldn’t thank him enough. He said he would do the same because it is for the kids and keeping them fishing. “He did this and didn’t have to,” Shane said.

This entry was probably the easiest thing to write about so far, just a good feeling story. I hope that this inspires all other anglers out there to pay it forward. Let others see your love and dedication to the sport. Do you have to lend a boat? No, but there are so many other things you can do. Take the time to share a bait, pole or reel. Teach someone to fish that might not have the opportunity. I’m not asking you to give away your fishing secrets here. Show how much you want this sport to grow and that the LOVE of the sport outweighs all the negativity that can come from the competition that burns within us all.