Ray Jones, left, and Bob Mitcham, right (Bob, you know, was always right)
Today is the second anniversary of the death of a dear friend and legend in the outdoors of north Louisiana. If it weren’t for people like Bob Mitcham, fishing wouldn’t be where it is today in this area.
Bob was a native of Bernice, lived in Monroe and had a camp on D’Arbonne. He fished all over the place, helped develop fishing into a recognized sport and always had something to say. Much of the time, it wasn’t “nice”. It was like, “Did you get a haircut or get your head caught in the ceiling fan” kinda not nice.
It was his way of showing he cared.
Like a favorite quote his old friend Ray Jones recalled yesterday and reminded me of: “Jones, you know how it pains me to say anything nice about you, but those fish were was good”, Mitcham said as he piled up a second plateful over in the repair shop area of B&L Marine.
Occasionally somebody would try to slip a piece of catfish or white bass on his plate, but he could spot it a mile away and look for a cat that somebody didn’t like so he could give it to the cat. Bob hated white bass. They would often hit his crappie jig and he would return the favor by hitting them with a boat paddle.
Bob was all heart, though. And all his toughness was a cover for that. He was a joy to be around and always willing to lend a helping hand. If he ever tried to make a deal with you, there was only one way to come out ahead. RUN! He was known first in the area for his rolling route “Hooks, line and Sinker”. His big white panel van ran the roads keeping every little quick stop in the country filled with, well… hooks, lines and sinkers. One day “young men” rode with him on that route, thinking he had it made. That could be my dream job. The key words there are “one day”. I didn’t ask to go back. It was work.
Bob was always offering encouragement to me like “that’s the best story on that I ever read”. Then he’d add, “even though it was the only one I ever recall reading on that.”
Bob never really got mad unless somebody wronged someone. Or you caught more fish in the BACK of his boat than he did in the front. Now that he’s gone, I can let people know that really happened. His love for fishing was apparent by looking at the front license plate of his new pickup truck (buying a new truck was an annual event)
Bob was always active on the crappie website, crappie.com, where nobody had a name. Only a handle. Miss you, “Bruiser Bob”.
And besides giving Bob’s legacy a shout out, here’s a more important message. If there’s somebody you appreciate, need to tell “thanks” to or just want to give credit for something they’ve done, don’t put it off. Do it before it’s too late.
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