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Memories of a fishing partner won't fade away

Fishing this year is going to be different, very different.

I lost my fishing partner on March 15 with the death of Dick Peterson.

Dick and I had fished together for over a quarter of a century and were eagerly looking forward to the upcoming open water season especially with the anticipated early ice-out.

Since I retired five years ago, Dick and I have shared a boat on a regular basis chasing whatever fish wanted to bite that day. It didn't matter what the specie because we released most of what we caught. All we wanted to do is have our lines stretched.

And we did just that many a day.

At the top of Dick's list were family and friends, but right behind them was his love of fishing. He fished every day that conditions and weather permitted. When he was not fishing he was looking forward to the next trip.

Winter was reserved for fishing panfish on his beloved Fish Hook Lake. But as soon as the first open water appeared, he was eagerly looking forward catching panfish out of a boat. About the only thing he would miss a day of fishing in the spring for was turkey hunting.

Dick loved fishing openers. The opening of the walleye and northern pike season was special, but in his latter years he looked forward to the bass opener just as much.

He loved to go to fish camp on Island Lake and each spring on the day before the opener, as we were sitting on the deck looking out at the lake, he would say it was great to be there and he made it for another one.

That won't be happening this year.

And as we prepared for the anticipated walleye and northern pike fishing the next day, he always had to slip in the fact that it was only a couple weeks until the bass opener, a time to catch "real fish."

Summers were for fishing bass and tournaments. He fished bass as much as possible, but in recent years the number of tournaments he fished dwindled due to health reasons.

But rest assured, he entered fishing tournaments for one reason: to win. And he won his fair share over the years to say the least.

The last tournament he fished was the Park Rapids Bass Club's Club Tournament last August with partner Dean Christofferson.

They won it.

While Dick fished tournaments to win, I think one of the most gratifying events for him was at the Gene Cirks Memorial Fishing Tournament one year where he didn't win.

I was fishing the event with my daughter, Shelia, and he was fishing it with my son, Jon. Both of them always considered Dick as their Grandpa so it was a spirited competition to say the least. When it was over, Sheila and I were in first place just ounces ahead of Dick and Jon. Dick had quite a smile on his face as Sheila jumped up in his arms and gave him a big hug when it was official that she had won her first tournament.

Grandpa approved!

Then there was fall, a time that had to be split between fishing and hunting ruffed grouse, waterfowl, pheasants or deer. Dick took a few days off to go hunting, but his heart was on the water thinking about the next trip to fish one of his favorite fish, the walleye. And the past few years fishing got the nod over the hunting birds.

One fall we were fishing on Fish Hook when I had a bite on a night crawler. I set the hook and the Loomis rod doubled over. "Northern," I told Dick. The fish zipped around back and forth and finally I was able to get it headed for the boat. As it came up, both of us were surprised to see the white tip on the bottom of its tail. Instead of a northern, it was a fat, football-shaped 31" walleye.

It is the only fish that I have ever had mounted.

I have lost a fishing partner, but Dick has been reunited with another of his. I am sure he will be fishing every day with his buddy, Bruno the Lab, who is in the front of the boat happily barking away as they embark on another adventure....