By Fred Garth

The photo quality sucks but this speckled trout didn't

The photo quality sucks but this speckled trout didn’t

About 10 years ago, my buddies and I started a tradition. We decided the absolute best way to end the year was to go fishing. Imagine that. So, every New Year’s Eve, we wrap up in our warmest jackets, load up the boat, pack some spirits and head to our favorite honey hole (a location none of us will disclose even if tortured by Dick Cheney himself). The idea is to do what we truly love on the very last day of the year – fishing and buddy bonding. And, if we catch any keepers, we can bring ‘em home to throw on the grill. Nothing like toasting to the New Year with chilled champagne and hot seared redfish.

Over the years, we’ve had some wild experiences. There have been awe inspiring sunsets, close encounters with dolphins and plenty of fish. One year, we brain farted and took a tiny wooden skiff. I guess we forgot that we were all grown fat men with way too much fishing gear. Not only were we packed in there like the back row of an airplane but the boat also leaked. Fortunately, we caught the crap out of speckled trout on top-water lures and I landed a hoss daddy 27-incher. So we didn’t care about our cold, wet feet. We just kept on fishing and used ripped-in-half beer cans to bail every few minutes.

A couple of our NYE trips were threatened by rain but, what the hell, we still went. Hey, traditions are traditions. The truth is, fishing is a great excuse to spend time with best friends. Even if we don’t catch a single fish, we’re still have a blast telling stories, drinking and enjoying time on the water. Don’t get me wrong. We catch fish. We’re damn serious about our fun.

This is the correct way to hold a fish. We released this monster 25+inch speckled trout on New Year's Eve.

This is the correct way to hold a fish. We released this monster 25+inch speckled trout on New Year’s Eve.

So this year, for the first time in a decade, the whole trip fell apart. One of my buds was out of the country visiting his new grandchild. My other buddy had to work for his boss from hell. Did I sulk and stay home? Hey-yul no! I went fishing. I wrangled up another close friend and we hit the same hidden honey hole. And, by God, we nailed some big specks. I also caught a nice redfish and released that puppy to the grill. My wife was happy about that.

Sure, I was sad not having my main dudes with me on the last day of 2015. It’s a fishing tradition (note to self, write a country song called, “Fishin’ Tradition”) and they missed a damn nice adventure. But, like any good friend, I blasted them with a whole bunch of mind-blowing photos of the fish we caught. They both replied with a thumbs up emoji. Or was that a finger?

Either way, Happy New Year. My resolution this year is simple: more fishing!

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