What Ricky Green did for me

I should write more columns. I tell that to myself virtually every day. I’ve been involved in this sport for a long time and I have a lot to say, but life always catches up to me in some form or fashion, which basically means Jerry McKinnis has me digging a ditch or sweeping a floor somewhere.

Brother has to make a living any way he can.

Writing a column takes time and we are always stressed for time, always saying, “I should have” or “I wish I had.” Those are the mantras of a busy ditch digger and floor sweeper.

Regardless, I couldn’t stand the thought of saying “I wish I had” in the future when it comes to some things.

When I first started in this business 30 years ago, Ricky Green kind of took me under his arm and served as a mentor. His encouraging words and constant support and friendship were the things that kept me going far more than I ever told him. His impact more heavy than he knows.

Ricky Green always had time for me or anyone else who was interested in fishing. The last few years, even in bad health, he’s been at the center of creating fish habitat for folks to catch fish from lakes close to his home. Picture if you will, an aging angler, with breathing tubes in his nose connected to an oxygen tank, sinking brush for everyone to use.

That’s pretty strong right there. Ricky Green has always been strong.

He’s actually the reason in a roundabout way that McKinnis hired me a dozen years ago. To say I owe him is an immense understatement. The work a mentor puts into someone can rarely be measured or paid back. Having someone of that stature to lean on and learn from is indescribable. There’s not a day of fishing that doesn’t go by when I don’t remember one of those lessons, offered while standing side-by-side, whether fishing for bass or crappie.

At one time, he was “Mr. Consistency,” with 14 consecutive Bassmaster Classic appearances (a record in his day) and responsible for helping create and design many of the lures you younger pups are fishing with today. All of us older dogs remember things like the “Ricky Green Fishing Machine,” and his narrow miss of winning the 1983 Classic. He actually finished second twice by about the time Aaron Martens was being born.

The last one was the year I met Ricky. He was the fishing stud of my college hometown, bigger than life with a heart of gold. But it’s not his heart we are talking about.

Today, Ricky Green needs more than I could ever give him. But I will not say, “I wish I had” when it comes to helping him. The man who is a legend in our sport needs a lung transplant. He suffers from severe COPD and is on the waiting list for a new lung.

It sounds ominous. But the very title of Mr. Consistency means you don’t give up. On Thursday, Sept. 19, Ricky Green’s friends and family are putting on an event called “Hook, Line & Legends” in Hot Springs, Ark.

The whole night is about Ricky Green with the purpose of raising money for this lung transplant. Some of the notables on hand include Jimmy Houston, Bobby Murray, George Cochran, Larry Nixon and Mark Zona. Fishing trips to every part of the country and some parts of the world will be auctioned, along with reams of great fishing items.

Tickets are cheap. It’s the type of thing you shouldn’t miss.

Then again we are all busy, right?

Doesn’t matter. If you are close, come and take part in an event that shows how big a heart the fishing industry has for one of its legends.

If you can’t come, send a proxy, make a donation or send out a prayer.

Like we often do in every-day life, don’t get caught saying, “I wish I had.”

Also By This Author