Over Memorial weekend, chapter members Nancy & Roy Hinkforth were contacted by Michelle, a friend of theirs. Michelle described her husband’s fight against a type of blood cancer and recent news that Russ was given two weeks to live by his physician. Michelle said Russ’ last request was to go muskie fishing with family and friends.
Nancy and Roy put out an e-mail the following Tuesday morning to the chapter board and other members asking for help to make an outing happen that Thursday, and Tom Arvoy, Larry Price, and Mike Phelps were able to assist. Nancy made lunches for everyone to take on the boat. The fleet and crew met at Smokey’s Muskie Shop for a noon outing to last between four and five hours. We departed Smokey’s to begin the hunt at 12:30PM and fished until about 5PM.
The four boats with three people per fished as a group. They worked the inside edge, over, and the outside edge of a massive weedbed. The bait was piled up on the outside edge, and many muskies were sighted by all. About 2:10PM, Roy was the first to convert a looker into a biter and passed the rod to Russ. Russ was able to fight the fish and Roy gracefully slipped the muskie into the net. The boats converged together to bear witness and share congratulations. Many pictures and even video were taken. Russ had enough strength remaining to hold the muskie for this photo opportunity.
About 3:40PM, another muskie was coerced into eating by Russ’ brother Steven. Steven had learned the art of picking backlashes out of a reel from the occasional mishap. After picking out a backlash and beginning to reel in the bucktail, a 32 inch muskie just couldn’t resist. Mike netted Steven’s muskie when the time was right. Russ, his daughter Lauren, and Roy came by for celebration and photos.
The chapter members were happy that they could help Russ with his request. His friends and family offered us money for the outing, but we refused with the exception of accepting $50 in Russ’ name to be used for our Youth programs.
** Edit 6/30/2009 **: Russ passed away June 22nd. Our condolences to his family and friends.