Stu Cassell Speaks: While we lived in Avon Park I wrote a weekly column for the Highlands Today edition of the Tampa Tribune. This is an article I wrote about one of my shuffleboard mentors and good friend, Dick Davis, March 2011.
A Wicked Scary Fishing Trip By Stu Cassell
Dick Davis is a larger than life kind of guy both in physical stature as well as personality. As a youngster, he was good at any sport he tried, and no doubt a handful for his parents and teachers. He’s very funny, and very good at shuffleboard. I met him when I joined the Avon Park Senior Recreation Club in 2010.
Dick’s from the East Coast, so when I’m with him I usually bring my Maine to English pocket translator so I can understand what he’s saying.
“My cah is pahked ova theya” translation: My car is parked over there.
Although he’s 82, he looks and acts a lot younger. A little over a year ago I bought his boat. We became good friends, and often go fishing together. A week ago we decided to try Lake Reedy.
Almost immediately, the fish finder went crazy. It was windy and the water was choppy, requiring both front and rear anchors to keep the boat from drifting back to shore.
When we didn’t get any strikes in the first half-hour, I suggested we relocate to some nearby weeds. We pulled up the anchors and moved about a hundred yards away.
On my fourth cast into the weeds a nice sized bass hit it, but the fish got off the line before I could bring it in. On my next cast I got snagged and couldn’t get unstuck. I told Dick we’d needed to move the boat over to the snag so I could free it, and we both began to bring up the anchors.
I got the rear anchor out first, then the boat shifted and the rope on the front anchor somehow got wrapped around Dick’s leg. The next thing I knew, the boat was tipping to one side and I realized I had better move to the opposite side in a hurry before the whole boat tipped over. While I was doing that, I heard a loud splash and a yell. I turned and saw Dick was in the water!
I quickly made my way to the front of the boat. Dick was coughing and having trouble breathing. His face was white as a sheet. I was afraid he was going to have a heart attack.
He had swallowed water, and said to me between labored breaths, “Help me get into the boat.”
He’s a big man, and I’m strong, but not strong enough to hoist someone his size. I was also afraid the boat would tip over if I tried to pull him in over one side. I managed to unwind the rope from his leg, and I grabbed a life vest and put it on him the best I could.
I asked him if he was able to hang on to the side of the boat while I got us back to shore and he said, “Yes.”
As we got close to the boat ramp, a couple who had been watching helped us. The woman had run to her house and brought back two towels, and the man helped Dick to his feet.
After ascertaining that my friend was okay – no broken bones, and normal breathing – I got the car and we loaded the boat. On the ride home, we talked about how lucky we were that we weren’t in the middle of the lake when he fell in. Then we did an inventory of the damages. One lost baseball cap – $6, two shorted-out hearing aids – $1600, one shorted-out cell phone – $49, and one 82-year-old man, still alive – priceless. All in all, we made out pretty well, thank God.