Special time of year

Over the past few years on Bassmaster Radio, we’ve done a Christmas Special featuring Bassmaster Elite Series pros and their fondest memories of Christmas. Of course, from a spiritual standpoint, this is a very important time of year to celebrate the birth of our Savior. With that comes memories of cool gifts as a child or time spent with family. This year, we changed it up a bit and featured some of the folks who bring you the outstanding fishing coverage at Bassmaster LIVE, Bassmaster.com and Bassmaster Magazine.

Ronnie Moore and Mark Zona represent Bassmaster LIVE, James Hall from Bassmaster Magazine and Thomas Allen from, well, everywhere.

One of my takeaways when I do these holiday shows is, it’s not the gifts folks remember, as much as it is the time spent together. Hunting stories, learning how to shoot with Grandpa, family fishing tournaments and road trips seem to dominate the conversation. Oh sure, there’s the occasional gift you got as a kid that you just can’t forget … the Rock’em Sock’em Robots or that first Nintendo game console that played Pong or Hockey, depending on the setting … but really, we remember the time spent with family.

For me, that meant traveling from the snowbanks of Upstate New York, to the sun and sand of Orlando, Fla. More specifically, to my grandparent’s house on little Lake Rena, off the bigger Lake Brantley, in Altamonte Springs. I’ll never forget taking that car ride with my dad and grandfather, down to Kissimmee in the early 1970s, and standing next to the sign that said “Future Home of Walt Disney World.” Grandpa said it was going to be a big thing. I was 10. It looked like a swamp to me.

Back at Lake Rena, Gramps kept a canoe there for me … I never saw him in it, so I figured it was all mine? Lake Rena is no more than a few acres, surrounded by lily pads and coontails, but in that canoe, out there by myself, I would fish every pad and stick up. If I hooked up, I’d yell out “Son!” like Roland Martin, and hold the rod up high like Curt Gowdy did on The American Sportsman. I tried taking the dog out here one time, because, you know, Jerry McKinnis did that on The Fishin’ Hole, but she hopped out of that little rig before I paddled off the bank.

A canal connected Lake Rena to Lake Brantley, with a big island (50 feet across?) right in the middle, and by the time I was 12, I’d paddle over there and work more shoreline. When I was 13, I dared to head for the Big Lake … there it was … like the ocean, 288 massive acres. I could never cover all of that in the canoe. We needed a johnboat with a 9.9 hp merc on it. I was living large then.

The point is, all of this took place on our annual Christmas pilgrimage to Grandma and Grandpa’s. As I got further into my teens, my dad would book guide trips to Toho and Kissimmee and Lake Mary, and I learned how to fish a Texas Rigged worm. I don’t remember any of the gifts (other than the Rock’em Sock’em Robots), but I sure do remember those times fishing that little puddle of a lake, and bringing back a 14 incher, and everyone taking pictures.

That’s what Christmas time means to me, and hopefully my kids and grandkids will have the same memories. Merry Christmas and may God Bless you and your family, from us here at Bassmaster Radio.

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