Since 2002 Kokomo residents Mike Maloney, Pete Schmitt and Greg Clark began making annual trips to Minnesota’s Itaska County. The family members would spend a week plying the waters of the many lakes that dot the area. It was a trip each looked forward to.
This year they decided to include Greg’s son, 18 year old Max, who will be leaving in September to serve our country in the United States Marine Corps. Although the younger Clark had fished Indiana catching bluegills, crappies and catfish, he had never experienced fishing north woods waters.
But this year things took a tragic turn. Several months before their anticipated trip, Maloney passed away. “It wouldn’t be the same without him,” said Schmitt, referring to the absence of his brother-in-law. But sometimes fishing can create sentimental, lifelong memories regardless of unfortunate circumstances.
Schmitt and the Clark’s departed for their trip among a bit of somberness. Once arriving they presented the youngest member of the group with one of Maloney’s rods. Greg spooled the reel with his own line. Schmitt then gave Max one of his special lures.
A short time later, using equipment provided by his father, uncle and cousin, Max tied into the biggest fish of his life, a northern pike stretching over 31 inches in length. “It was a touching moment,” said Schmitt. “This trip will never be forgotten,” added the elder Clark. “Max caught that fish on Mike’s rod, using my line and Pete’s lures. It was like Mike was with us all along.”