In 1978, I headed out in my new Blackman skiff to catch a marlin. Alone.
At the time, only a handful of local anglers had accomplished that feat. New at the game, when I spotted a tailer, I wasn’t certain of what I was seeing. Coming closer, I realized that my tailer was a swordfish!
On 50-pound tackle, the “swordy” took nearly 14 hours for me to land. (read the Game Changer)
I proudly saved the bill and hung it on my wall where it stayed for almost 30 years.
Then, a couple of my over six-feet tall grandsons were roughhousing – and managed to knock the swordfish bill from its honored position on the wall.
With utmost care, we picked up the pieces of my treasured, but now shattered bill and placed them in a large plastic bag where they stayed.
This year, while walking the aisles at the Fred Hall Sportsman Show in Long Beach, Pamela Wynn, customer relations at Gray Taxidermy, and I chatted about my trip to Gray FishTag Research Symposium and the extensive tour of their facility last December.
As we discussed all the cool things Gray was doing with their mounts, it occurred to me that perhaps my shattered swordfish bill could be repaired.
Her response was, “Of course. Bring it in before the end of the show, and I will take it back to the facility and see what might be done to reconstruct it.”
After spending several days at the Gray Taxidermy facility in Pompano Beach last year, Pam’s response was precisely what I expected.
I had been impressed with the entire staff’s attention to detail from start to finish on every project regardless of the size when I had been on my tour of the facility.
On my birthday, I received a notice from FedEx that my swordfish bill was on its way, and on May 1 the box arrived complete with instructions on how to unpack and loosen the bill from the wooden support that secured it inside the large carefully packed cardboard crate.
I began tearing the tape and padding away from the shiny blue bill complete with the same nicks and indentations along both edges to the tip of the bill that it had when I had caught it in 1978.
Completely unpacked, I couldn’t resist more photos before hanging the gleaming trophy and keepsake on my trophy wall in my office.
The trophy bill was back – a stark reminder of the 13 plus-hours unfolding from high noon on one day, until about 1-am the following morning many years ago when I had an “old man of the sea” moment – a Game Changer when one of us made one more mistake than the other.
I felt like an old friend that had been stored in a plastic bag and relegated to a dark shelf in the garage for years since the accident had finally been restored.
The roughhousing boys are now men, and they were also relieved to see it as it had once been.
A ton of thanks to Gray Taxidermy and my friend Pamela Wynn along with all the staff members who helped make this happen. There won’t be a day that I walk into my office and see the “Restored Broadbill” hanging on the wall that I am not grateful for all of their efforts on my behalf.
After being on both sides of the equation – an observer and a customer – there is a reason why Gray’s is one of the oldest and best.
It’s their dedicated professional staff that has made a career of providing an extraordinary level of customer service and satisfaction by making memories last forever.