Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Final fishing trip with friends

Wick's World


I’ve lived a little more than two-thirds of a century. This is what I am noticing more and more every day. I seem to keep creating more memories although it’s more likely that I am simply noticing memories more often. A lot of memories came into play this weekend, mostly precipitated by my friend’s funeral. As is gradually becoming the norm, this was more a day of remembrance and sharing of good memories and stories of past hunts and fishing expeditions than a tear-filled funeral where all the players act out their personal loss related to Ricky’s death.

I learned this yesterday; surprisingly his name was Ricky, not Rick or Richard. Although he died at the relatively young age of 61, most of his family and friends felt as much of a sense of relief as that of heartbreak. Of course we all loved him and certainly will miss him. But the past year was a very difficult one for all involved.

By the time the doctors found the cancer, anything they could do for Ricky was too little, too late. The year went by slowly and the chemo made him so sick that he abruptly ended it. He preferred an ending that included the dozens of fishing trips he still took with his buddies. One of the most memorable was the night they spent on a tributary of the Missouri River catching over 50 large catfish.

Following the service, we accompanied Ricky’s brother down to the river by my old alma mater, the St. Joseph’s Indian School. This is a prime fishing spot on the Missouri River, mainly because of its sandy shoreline and plenty of driftwood to keep a fire going all night.

Before tossing in our lines, we said a small prayer to Ricky, asking him to send us our first walleye. Call it coincidence, divine intervention or a bunch of baloney, but I’m sure you can anticipate the story I am about to tell you.

Julie hollered at Ricky’s brother, “Wiggy, your pole is bouncing around!”

By the time Wiggy was able to retrieve the pole, his rod was bent almost to the ground. There was no need to set the hook. The fish was obviously offering itself to Ricky’s brother — obvious to us anyway. It was not only a walleye, it was a big one. It was the biggest of all the walleye we caught that weekend, but not the biggest fish. That turned out to be a monster catfish that Bart landed. Of course we assumed divine intervention was still at work in the form of Ricky toying with us as he made his journey to the otherworld. The 3-foot catfish had to be the mythological representation of Ricky’s final fishing trip he shared with his best friends shortly before his death.


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