My brother in law Roland and I are avid amateur fishermen and hit local urban lakes almost every weekend. Whether we get skunked or not, we enjoy the time out on the water or banks immensly and can hardly get home before we're planning the next outing. Roland's co-worker Sam was also an avid fisherman and the three of us started getting together every weekend, sharing fishing tips and techniques and plenty of laughs. After two weekends of getting skunked, Roland and I decided to take a reconnisaince mission to Pena Blanca Lake, a body of water about an hour or so south of Tucson. We told Sam about the lake, which was recently revamped due to slight mercury contamination. Before long, Sam, Roland and I were frequenting Pena Blanca Lake every weekend. Roland and I fishing off our boat and Sam setting up shop from the banks near a clearing featuring a large boulder and some nice shade trees. Roland and I had fair luck there, and Sam limited out his trout bag every trip.
After an evening of semi successful fishing at Pena Blanca Lake, Sam packed it in and left for home. A little while later Roland and I loaded up our boat and headed up the winding road back towards Tucson. A few miles up the road we came across some flashing lights and a few DPS trucks assisting any motorists around a single vehicle accident. We saw the truck and didn't think much of it, the model didn't seem to match Sam's truck and there were multiple vehicles leaving the lake that evening, many trucks.
The next night, Roland received news that would change our lives. The vehicle we passed was Sam's. He had suffered a heart attack behind the wheel and had passed away en route to the local hospital. Of course, guilt set in. What if we had left along with Sam? What if we had carpooled out to the lake? We may have been able to get him to help quicker and possibly save him. We still struggle with these questions. Guess you always hope that you could have maybe made a difference...
The following weekend Roland and I made a trip out to Pena Blanca Lake and fished quietly off our boat. There was a heavy feeling in the air, and we were both very solemn. We missed our friend and quietly hoped Sam was catching his limit upstairs. After about an hour of fishing unsuccessfully, i whispered a little prayer for Sam and almost immediately caught a nice sized rainbow trout. I limited out in about three hours. My brother in law's catch was a little slow. We started opening up a little about how much we missed our friend Sam. How we couldn't believe we'd never see him again. Suddenly, fish seemed to be jumping onto Roland's line. He limited out about two hours later or so, it was awesome.
We're not overly religious or very open with our emotions, but we both felt Sam's presence with us helping us to catch as many fish as possible. We've taken a few trips since that one, and we always set up one of Sam's poles. He's gotten a few bites but haven't been able to set the hook on one.
We miss you Sam, but I'm sure you're in a beautiful place catching your limit!