A lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving

Regardless of our personal circumstances, most of us have many good reasons to be grateful this Thanksgiving season for the wonderful people and happy circumstances in our lives.

While we may occasionally grumble and sometimes wonder whether we’ve made all the right decisions, we mostly have much to celebrate as we reflect this Thanksgiving.

That applies to us anglers, as well. What a fishing year 2023 has been. I’m a glass-half-full guy anyway, so it’s especially easy for me to max out on happiness while fishing. But even so, this spring, summer and fall delivered some of the best fishing in my life.

Looking back over the past seven months, I am thankful for a boatload of outstanding fishing trips with a raft of good buddies on productive waters. Tyler Woak, Ted Suffolk, Steve Zarbaugh, John Breedlove, Ray Halter, Ricky White, Jim Ellashek, Phil Dennison, John Hirschbeck, Bob Marcoux and Will Geraghty all helped make 2023 a year for which I am thankful.

Tyler Woak and I did our best several times this year to put a dent in the local populations of largemouth and smallmouth bass.

Never one to hide his enthusiasm for a bite, 24-year-old Tyler gets jiggy with a bass on the line. He could have rocked this old angler out of his own boat on several occasions as he danced on the Bass Cat’s deck while battling bass. Had I gone overboard, I reckon I’d be less thankful about our fishing time.

Ted Suffolk is the polar opposite of young Tyler when it comes to deck dancing. In fact, Ted is content to cast in silence and deal with bites in such a nonchalant manner that I sometimes forget he’s on the boat.

But it was Ted who put the most meat on the scales for our team during the 2023 Muransky Companies Bass Classic, the United Way benefit tournament on Pine and Evans lakes. He stuck and battled most of the bass we weighed.

Steve Zarbaugh also joined me for a largemouth bass reunion this summer. He and I teamed up a decade and more ago in buddy-style bass tournaments in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York, enjoying a fair amount of success and a heavy dose of laughs. As with any encounter with Steve, wisecracks and trash talk flew fast and furious during our bass day this year.

John Breedlove and Ray Halter are two of the more detail-oriented anglers in my sphere. John reached deep into his experience on Mosquito Lake this summer to generate memorable topwater strikes while working his white hollow-body frog over the expansive weed flats. Ray showed me a “secret” color stick worm and some off-the-beaten-path weedbeds where he plucked a couple limits of bass.

Ricky White, Jim Ellashek and Phil Dennison helped me take advantage of a turned-on population of largemouths willing to chase bladed jigs, swimbaits and topwater lures during a three-week stretch in September.

John Hirschbeck called time-out on grandfathering, golfing and supervising home improvement projects to join me for a morning on the lake. A mechanical gremlin cut our day short, but not before we boated a big bass and he shared stories about past fishing trips and Major League Baseball.

Bob Marcoux and I hooked up with Captain Will Geraghty in Naples, Fla., in March for brackish water-speckled trout along with acrobatic ladyfish and hard-pulling catfish. Fantastic weather, plenty of action and great conversation made for yet another fun day on the water.

Those experiences and so much more make me thankful I’m here to enjoy these days and times.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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