Special Forces Fishing
by Steve Scaramastro written May 2016
Special Forces Fishing? The United States Military is the finest military on the planet. Most Americans are familiar to some degree with our military’s special forces. The Marines have Force Recon, the Navy has SEALs, the Army has Rangers, Green Beret’s, and Delta Force, and the Air Force has it’s Para Jumpers.
Special Forces Fishing
These institutions have long, illustrious histories showing us who and what they are. They are known for being tough, dedicated men who will give everything they have to accomplish their mission. It is nothing short of astounding to hear their stories of sacrifice and success.
I bring this up to ask you the following: How badly do you want to fish? When your mission is fishin’, how far are you willing to go to accomplish it?
At this point I need to let you know that this story is not about me. It’s about my good friend Tony. He is by far the most dedicated (addicted?) outdoorsman I know. On the exterior you will find a quiet, humble, extremely likable dude. I’ve never X-rayed him, but I imagine on the inside it’s just a strong laser beam focused on hunting and fishing. The guy simply does not know when to quit. I could give you lots of examples defining his determination, but a recent one highlights many of the differences between Tony and the rest of us.
Tony lives in Idaho and it seems like every day for the past month Tony has sent me fishing pictures. Keep in mind that 5 out of the 6 days are work days (he doesn’t fish on Sunday). He rises early, hooks the boat to the truck, drives to the lake, fishes, and is in the office on time later that morning. Most of the days were cold, some had snow, some had sleet, they all had wind, and they all started long before the sun came up…but he went anyway. The line between a special forces mission and one of Tony’s fishin missions should now be starting to blur. While their target species is different, there is no amount of bad weather or early start times that will dissuade either group.
On this particular fishin’ mission, Tony would have to tow his boat with his Buick sedan because his pickup truck was in the shop. Some of you might stop and re-read this last sentence. Yes, he has a backup plan and it’s to use the Buick as a tow vehicle. Having your primary vehicle go down is no excuse for mission failure. Fishing WILL occur.
So at 0530 in the crisp, cold darkness of southern Idaho, we find our man Tony silently backing the Buick up to the boat. He’s done this a million times before. No neighbors will hear him, there will be no trace that he was ever here. However, when he gets out to hook up he realizes he left the ball hitch on his truck. The same truck he dropped off at the garage to get worked on yesterday.
I need to interrupt the story at this point to let you know I would have immediately put the car in park, then cussed and grumbled my way back to the front door. I’d have quietly let myself in, leaving the cold and the darkness outside, and crawled back into a warm bed with my wife. Case closed. However, Tony is on a fishin’ mission, and he doesn’t quit.
Standing there in the dark, his breath hanging before him in frozen clouds as he exhales, Tony immediately knows what he has to do. Go to bed? No. He jumps in the Buick and races downtown to the garage where he left his truck. It’s a fairly small town so there’s no traffic at this hour. There are perhaps 20 vehicles being worked on so it won’t take any time at all to grab his hitch, run back to the house, and hook up. This will be a minor delay.
He drives through town with silence and darkness as his only companions. He passes home after home whose occupants are sleeping warmly in their beds. They are all dreaming of something while they sleep, but Tony is wide awake and dreaming of fishing.
In short order he finds the lot and quickly pulls off the quiet street leading him here. He parks, jumps out, and begins a hasty search in the dark for the item he’s come to snatch. Even in the pitch black he can tell somethings wrong, his truck isn’t here. He runs through the shadows to the big rolling doors of the garage, and then he sees it. Of the twenty or so vehicles there, his is the ONLY ONE locked inside for the night! He can see his truck 18 inches away, on the other side of this door, but there is no way he can get to it. It would appear the game is over. The mission is a bust. I would have gone home, cursing and grumbling under my breath. I might have slammed the door behind me, then plopped down out of frustration and tried to get some sleep.
Not Tony though. Remember, this guy has the dedication of a Tier 1 spec ops fisherman. Like a Green Beret creeping through Baghdad trying to infiltrate Sadam’s castle, Tony knows there’s a way; he just has to find it.
As his hopes of reclaiming his hitch go up in smoke, he immediately switches to the next best option for mission success. Across the street is a junkyard owned by a friend of his; surely one of those vehicles will have a hitch he can borrow. While the town continues to slumber, Tony dashes across the street. An astute observer might have noticed something moving from one dark shadow to the next. At this time of night, dashing through the shadows with a wild eyed “need to go fishing look” he might have even been mistaken for an enormous raccoon. When he gets to the junkyard he creeps over and around the skeleton of every dead and wrecked vehicle on the lot hoping to find a hitch. The clock is still ticking, there is still time to fish, there is still time to complete the mission, if he can only find a hitch.
Murphy’s Law is alive and well at this early hour. There is no hitch in site. What are the odds that this many junkyard trucks and SUV’s in Idaho wouldn’t have a ball hitch on them?!?! The mission is a bust. At this point I’d have driven home, cursing loudly, running stop signs, and trying to run over possums as I went. But not Tony…his fishin’ mission is still on. No matter how bad the odds are stacked against him, he doesn’t quit. His mindset never leaves the “positive” setting where all things are possible. I don’t think his brain even has a “negative” setting. There is no part of his thought process that says “this can’t be done.’ He just keeps going, and going, and going, until it gets done or it fails. He always sees a path to victory.
At this point his truck is inaccessible, the junkyard has nothing for him, and the clock is still ticking. The earth is turning, the sun will be rising, and the fish WILL be biting…he must get to the lake. Now Tony recalls his buddy Ron has a hitch on his Suburban. Obviously Ron won’t mind if he borrows it for the morning, so he jumps in the Buick again and sprints across town. The house is dark, and everyone is asleep. Ugh! The Suburban isn’t there!!
With the sun soon rising, this Suburban is Tony’s last hope. He MUST find this vehicle for mission success. Where could it be? Ron has been remodeling a house nearby, surely the Suburban is there! He hits the gas and zips across to the other side of town. As his headlights sweep the driveway it’s obvious that this is another dry hole, the Suburban isn’t here. At this point I’d speed home, blowing through every stop sign in my way, burn my boat when I got there, slam the door, and just watch a fishing show because I’d be way too angry to sleep.
But not Tony. His mind is focused like a laser on this mission. Find the Suburban and you get to fish. This Suburban is now being chased harder than Osama Bin Laden. There is no place it can hide. Suddenly he remembers that Ron has a building lot for a new house not far from here. On the gas again. Sun rising, fish getting active, Tony is in a desperate race against natures clock. Not once since this cascade of problems began has he considered quitting. His only focus is on fishing. Find a hitch, you get to fish; so he continues his quest.
When he arrives at the building site, his fourth target of the morning, he scores. The Suburban is here and hooked up to a trailer!! It took him a few minutes to get everything unhooked, but once he did he was on his way! He blasted back to the house, installed the hitch in the Buick, backed up, and discovered it was the wrong size. This is where the story gets ugly. In Tony’s words, “All these early mornings are killing my ability to think these things through properly.”
There isn’t enough foul language in all the languages combined that would satisfy my requirements in this situation. I’d cuss until the steel melted the hitch right off the boat, then I’d walk to the lake, wade in, and begin punching fish in the face. It would be an ugly, ugly scene. But not Tony. He’s the type of guy who will look at it quietly, and after careful consideration say something like “Aw man…that’s not good. I guess we’ll just get ‘em tomorrow.”
After he realized all of his efforts were for naught, he simply drove back to Ron’s place and returned the gear to its prior place and status. Most of us would have gone home to get some well needed rest. As you’ve learned though, Tony sees things differently. Despite all the setbacks, the fishin’ mission was still possible. He went to work a few hours before normal so he could justify leaving early and fishing before the sun set.
This is a dedicated fisherman my friends. As they say here in my part of the world “He’s eat up with it.”
So when I say someone is on a “fishin’ mission”, that’s what it looks like. He pursues it like a wolf chases a rabbit. It’s not going to stop. You’d have to kill the wolf to keep it from chasing the rabbit, and there are days I’d swear nature would have to kill Tony to keep him off the lake or the mountain.
How dedicated are you my friends?