Capt. Dickie Colburn – For The Record

I was mired in my own world and strolling aimlessly through the fishing department of the Beaumont Academy store last Monday when I snapped to the fact that I was being followed by a young teen-ager. When I glanced at him he would widen the gap, but he was never far behind.

Finally, before he could hastily retreat once again, I asked him if he was looking for a particular lure or just killing time while his Mom shopped. “I don’t know how you knew my Mom was shopping with my sister,” he replied sheepishly, “but I thought you might be Capt. Colburn and I was trying to be sure without having to ask.”

“Just a hunch,” I replied.

He was elated that he had cold trailed the right guy and immediately raced through a list of things that he knew about me as if to justify his clandestine pursuit. “You spoke at a CCA meeting when I was little and after your talk you gave me and my brother a pack of Assassins and a spool of line. We live in Pt. Arthur, but I listen to you on the radio, read your column each week and my Grandfather saves your magazine columns for me. Another time at the S.A.L.T. Club we…!”

“Whoa, now don’t get crazy on me,” I interrupted in an effort to slow him down so that he could resume occasionally taking a breath. “I fish just like you do….. I’ve just been doing it about sixty years longer.”

We talked about anything and everything associated with fishing until our chance meeting was interrupted by the ringing of his cell phone. “My Mom is checking out so I have to go….thanks for talking to me.”

I was almost back to my own truck when I saw them exiting the store and I motioned for him to head my way. “I just happen to have a couple of packs of those Swim Baits that we were talking about in the color that is working well for us right now. After dropping them in his bag he thanked me and added, “You signed that spool of line at that CCA meeting and I never used it so I am not going to ask you to sign these.”

With that, he stopped a short distance away, wheeled around and put everything back in the proper perspective as only a thirteen year old could when he asked, “Hey, Capt. Colburn……you wouldn’t want to make a donation to our All Star team would you?”

I mention this meeting for two reasons.The first being that more kids than you will ever know are watching and listening to you and hanging onto everything you are willing to share about your own fishing experiences. Technique isn’t nearly as important as simply sharing the details of the latest trip as many of them will never have an opportunity to even get in a boat.

The second reason is that this all came home to roost last weekend while attending a memorial funeral service for Lamar “Coco” Hardin. Without his ever knowing it, he represented everything magical about fishing the lower end of the Sabine River and Sabine Lake for me. His family was literally raised on these waters and every story he joyfully shared in his captivating style was based on their experiences.

Whether he was holding court over a counter in the Western Auto Store, Livingston’s Tackle Shop, across the deck of his camp in East Pass or the main foyer of the First Presbyterian church on Sunday morning, I hung on his every word. I still vividly remember as a youngster hoping throughout the sermon that one or more of his friends would ask him something about fishing before he left!

Lamar, his grandson and name sake, is a cherished friend and he and his family lovingly refer to his grandfather as Coco, but he will forever be Mr. Hardin to me.It seems like there was never the right time, but not once do I ever recall thanking him for even allowing me to stand close enough to absorb every word of his adventures nor do I think that he ever realized how much those words mattered.

Fishing is about far more than simply catching or not catching a fish. Appreciate, respect and be quick to share your passion for this blessing with others.

Thanks and God bless you Mr. Hardin!