A Sportsman's Tale / From Ron White
My son, Brandon, has been attending the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo for the past couple of years. He also has been following Mark & Jake Romanack of the Fishing 411 television show on social media for about the same time frame.
In January, he invited me to go along with him to the show at the Conference and Event Center in Niagara Falls. He has always been a multi-species fisherman, while I tend to enjoy walleye fishing over all else.
The show was very exciting, covering the complete spectrum of numerous fishing topics and categories. We use a lot of gear by the Offshore Tackle Company. So we spent some time at its booth talking with reps about current and new products and the various ways to utilize them. While at the booth, we were encouraged to enter a drawing for a fishing trip giveaway. I actually was not even going to fill one out, but my son was relentlessly persistent with me until I agreed.
To be honest with you, I had forgotten all about the drawing, and when I was initially contacted by Mark Romanack from the show as the lucky name drawn, I thought it was my son trying to pull a hoax on me. The previous year, he had taken a selfie of himself, with Mark and sent it to me, just to tease me, knowing what a big fan I am of the walleye pro.
Well, when emails started coming in, I knew it was legit. I forwarded my son the email, and his reply was, "You gotta be kidding me. The guy that didn't want to fill out the entry blank?" There were various fish species and dates offered at my choice. The initial choices were salmon, steelhead or brown trout. I emailed Mark and thanked him, but humbly asked that with me being a walleye guy at heart, and him being a walleye pro, that I would give anything to fish ole marble eyes with him, and have my son accompany me. He graciously said he would make some calls to see if he could make that happen. And he did.
We met Mark and his son, Jake, at 5:30 a.m. at Buffalo Harbor in Lake Erie. We launched at Safe Harbor Marina, and within 10 minutes of putting lines out, we were reeling in fish. By noon, we had boated nearly 30 walleyes. Spinners and worms were the presentation of choice, with fish taken high and low, throughout the water column. Lots of fish, and quality fish with many in the five- to eight-pound plus category. The largest ones were photographed and released, while the eaters accompanied us back to Rochester.
The day presented great fishing and great conversation. While our sons discussed the newest generation technology of fishing electronics and gadgets, Mark and I reminisced of '70s and '80s baseball. Mark and Jake are two of the most down to earth, genuine, people you could ever hope to meet. We could not thank them enough.
And as if the fishing were not phenomenal enough, the education we received from them was priceless. They are two of the most knowledgeable people of their craft whom we have ever met. Along with fun and fishing, their patience in explaining the "whys, why nots, and how to's" regarding the fish, the equipment, the electronics, the methods and presentations was a personal hands-on seminar in itself.
Without a doubt, an experience of a lifetime for me, and even more special that I was able to share it with my son.