My Happy New Year for 2009 didn’t start out so great. Last Sunday morning, I received news that one of my old fishing buddies had passed away. He will be sorely missed and dearly remembered.
Most everyone knew Clarence Larson, of Missoula, simply as “Pin.” Pin died early Sunday morning of an apparent heart attack at the age of 78.
Pin loved to fish for salmon and the bigger the salmon, the better he liked it. He traveled to the coast on an annual basis to go after them. I was lucky enough to get invited on a couple of those trips and it was during the time spent on those week-long adventures that I grew to appreciate Pin and his positive outlook on life.
Pin and I became good friends because of those trips and they led to more fishing trips. I remember when we went to Canada for walleye fishing. Pin had always wanted to catch a walleye so Dale Moore and I took him fishing on Lake Diefenbaker.
On one of days, fishing had only been fair until Pin hooked into a big walleye. We ended up landing the big walleye and it was a dandy. After the fish was in the boat, I looked over to my pole, which was still in the water, and noticed it was bent like it was snagged on something. That something turned out to be another big walleye.
The difference was the only part of my fish that we ended up seeing was its tail just before it rolled and broke my line.
“The tail on that fish was huge, how much bigger do you think that fish would be than the one I actually was able to land,” Pin would ask me frequently over the years after our trip. “To bad it got away,” he’d say with a grin.
He never missed an opportunity to poke a little fun at his buddies or himself. Two years ago Pin, Don Beardsley, my son Harry and I went to Flathead Lake after whitefish. The bite was on and all of us were catching whitefish, one after another. Well, actually all of us were catching whitefish, except for Pin.
We all gave Pin words of encouragement along with suggestions on how to hold his fishing rod and bait his hook. As the hours went by, you could sense Pin was getting a little frustrated with everybody else in the boat hauling in fish but him.
Finally just before we were ready to call it a day and head for shore Pin yelled out, “I got one”. As he reeled his catch 50 feet from the bottom we were all excited. We all wanted him to catch at least catch one whitefish. Harry grabbed the net and put it by the water as Pin’s catch came closer to the surface. All of a sudden there it was.
Pin had hooked a flat four-inch rock. I’ll bet they heard us laughing clear across Flathead Lake. “It takes a great fisherman to hook one of these in 50 feet of water”, Pin said as he laughed and held the rock up to get a picture taken.
You see, for our old fishing buddy Pin, fishing wasn’t just about catching fish. It was an excuse to spend some time with his friends, laugh and have fun. For that loss, we will all miss him.