I watch through a half inch view finder as nostalgia is born. Visible in a set of misty eyes aimed at a flag. I can almost taste it in his unrealistic expectations. Self-inflicted naivety saturated in hope. The harsh reality that lies only a couple days away, the slipper hardly ever fits and even if it does their can only be one Cinderella.
Several anglers will fish their first and last Cup this week. They will return home saying if only I could have. Or I almost. If I could have caught one more or if that one had just stayed hooked up. They’ll accept defeat as best they can and hang their hat on their efforts.
They will tell their grandchildren how they made it to the big dance and just ran up on some bad luck. Make their kids watch the 5 seconds that they appear in the background a hundred times.
Their wives will scrapbook the newspaper clipping that wished him luck and discard the one that recapped his finish. All the guys that don’t win will dwell on what happens here. Some certainly more than others but all will dream of how things could have gone differently.
I refuse to turn my lens away. I’ll stay fixed on them. Even though I will not be able to sell my photo I’ll take the shot of the guy with 3 pounds. To show respect, admiration and appreciation to the big fish from a small pond. Because he grows the sport. As much as the Brent Ehrlers, Randall Tharps and Bryan Thrifts.
For every angler that wants to be the next David Dudley there are a hundred more that want to avenge their home town hero’s misfortune. Catch the one that he let get away. Bring it home someday to him.
So I want to wish the best of luck to the long shots. Give it all you have. When you don’t have anymore, give it still. And if alas you don’t prevail. Bring us more like you. Tell your story. Bend the ear of some local kid that thinks you’re the best thing that ever happened to the sport. And you will be.