Aldo is what he went by in the various online kayak and river fishing websites he was a member of; its what I called him and how I knew him. However, the beauty of kayak fishing is that you don’t just interact online but you meet up in person as well to share water together and even camp or share meals too. It brings together anglers of all ages and somehow the bond of fishing allows us to all get along great and just “click” despite age gaps. From these in-person experiences friendships are born, and true relationships bloom; eventually, you know someone by their real name, and his was Allen Hodgson. He was a lot more than an online friend to me, even though I probably only fished with him 10 times or so. The beauty of fishing is that somehow each trip burns a hole in your memory; you remember the fish you caught, what you caught them on and who you were with when it happened…usually because they were snapping photos of your fish and vice versa.
I remember every detail of Allen and I’s adventures. One of my favorite stories I wanted to share is when he and I decided to “explore some new water” together in north GA. I put that in quotes because you really never know what will happen when you’re exploring new water and who you’ll encounter or what you’ll catch. I told Allen “We’ll find a way to put in, trust me. I’ve never seen a place I couldn’t put in at, and only a few that I couldn’t take out of.” He seemed game for the adventure even though I say these things nonchalant with no wife or kids in the back of my mind to concern myself with if something bad were to happen. I appreciated his adventurous spirit and as I always say to everyone and said to Allen on this occasion “Dude, if its this hard to put in just imagine how good the fishing is and how nobody’s fishing that!”
We did finally make it into the river with our kayaks and worked our way upstream towards a small dam. The water was rushing loudly over the dam and I was fishing a small pool below it expecting to catch a shoal bass or two. Instead I got bit HARD by a different bass that neither of us expected way up here in north GA, a 6lb 12oz largemouth! We were pumped, high fivin each other and about to get a photo when we hear someone yelling at us from across the river. We turn to see some guy screaming and threatening to call the cops saying “we’re on private property ” and that they “own this section of river;” this guy was hot. Well, I wasn’t about to let this fish go without a photo so Allen and I quickly played like we couldn’t understand the guy due to the roaring water and I threw my camera to him and he knew what to do, and that it needed to be done quickly! He turned away from the guy and then towards me and snapped this quick photo of my trophy for the day before I let it go.
We got in our kayaks and over to the other side of the small stream and asked the guy what his deal was. He tried to explain some story about this being a private section for trout or something and even though we were fishing for bass, knew the law, and felt we were within our rights to be there we decided to leave this mad-man behind and head downstream to another spot that had been good to me in the past.
We eventually got to the new location that I had fished before and waded upstream while fishing. I told Allen that we were in a good area and that he or I should catch I nice shoal bass soon. Well, it wasn’t a few minutes later I was snapping action photos of Allen catching one of the most beautiful little creek shoal bass that ended up weighing around 3 and a half pounds. We caught several more shoal bass like that on this day and Allen was grinning from ear to ear the entire time. He was already talking about how he was going to write this report up, with photos, to share with our fishing friends online.
However, what I remember most about the adventure is how Allen treated me almost like a son while we were together. He shared life wisdom with me while we fished and during rides in the truck back to our shuttle vehicle. I’m not a father yet, but I’m sure when you have kids and they grow up and move out you probably pray hard that your son or daughter end up hanging out with people who will continue to reinforce the messages and character that you tried to instill during their upbringing. Well, my mom and dad would have been (and were) thankful to God for sending a man like Allen Hodgson into my life. He definitely continued to water seeds of wisdom that they my parents had already sewn in me during my youth. For some reason, when it comes from someone other than your parents, like Allen, it means a whole lot more when you’re still young. I am thankful that Allen, no longer here and in pain, has no doubt left his wife, son and daughter with a strong faith in God, and the wisdom that God blessed him with thanks to his being open to receive it. Although it is a sad day since we have lost a friend to cancer, it is a happy day for his entire family as well because in the grand scheme of things they are truly fortunate and blessed by God to be a Hodgson!
A fitting photo I was able to take of Allen paddling off into, what else, the sunset. RIP my friend, see you soon.