KEVIN TATE: Appreciation for our teachers and mentors continues to grow

By Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer

As I was elbow-deep in the innards of one of our computers at work this past week, it occurred to me how much I appreciate the people who taught me how to do this, something that extends to every facet of what I do.
I’m not a computer guy by preference but, through necessity, I’ve learned far more than I’d ever hoped to know about the inner workings of the technical equipment we use to make TV, a training process that began in earnest more than 11 years ago and something that continues today.
Now, among other things, I do the troubleshooting others once handled. As tedious as it is to do, it’s even more tedious to explain, especially more than once, which is what gave me pause when I thought back to how many times it was explained to me.
The Old Men who helped raise me taught me a lot of things, practically all through doing and showing rather than telling. We did most of our fishing at Grenada Lake in those days, concentrating our trotline efforts in and near the old river runs.
The lake looks placid and stable but, no matter how calm the weather above, there are constant currents below as the Yalobusha and Skuna Rivers flow in, then continue out to Greenwood where the collective joins the Tallahatchie River to form the Yazoo.
As the lake rises and falls with the change of the inflow and the spillway adjustments of the Corps of Engineers, trotlines inherit whatever the waters carry in the way of submerged debris.
Arriving at the lake in the dark after a few days away, the morning’s first inspection and baiting almost always involved a number of repairs, especially if the rains and the rivers had been very active while we were gone.
Repairing and re-hanging a damaged trotline is usually more trouble than putting the line out in the first place because of all the untangling involved. There’s an art to keeping a new line tangle-free. There’s nothing but strife in fixing one that’s gone wrong.
On one day in particular, we’d driven 20 miles from home before remembering we’d left the trolling motor battery, which we had to retrieve. Then we backed the boat into the water without the plug in and had to pull back out and let it drain.
After 15 minutes spent getting the motor to crank, we arrived at our first line and found it cut in the middle. We spent nearly an hour getting it repaired, then got it tangled in the trolling motor prop and cut it again.
According to the TV news, the day’s fishing outlook had been “Poor,” which proved to be true in more ways than one, but good in others because of what I learned without knowing I’d learned it.
Patience, it seems, is something best taught outdoors. It’s something I saw in practice over and over again, something I’ve always carried with me, something I hope to pass on.
Kevin Tate is V.P. of Media Productions for Mossy Oak in West Point.