Mark Menendez – A Fishing Vacation

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MenendezBlogThe business of being a caregiver for my wife has wiped me out. This is the toughest job a person has to endure. Regular work, housework, and care for Donna have taken a toll on me. Burnout has set in for sure!

While working a Gander Mountain Grand Opening event in Auburn, Al, I looked down the line of fishing fans to see two smiling faces that I had not seen in ten years. Dave and Debbie Balley go all the way back to my Hydra-Sports days. They are the former owners of Venice Marina in Venice, La. The hugs and kisses went flying! Their two sons are charter boat captains at the marina. I have spent days on the water in Venice. This family has always been such a good friends to me.

Mark Menendez 45lb AmberjackWe immediately started the process of filling in the blanks for the past ten years. Debbie said, “We have retired to a small community near here. Please come over for dinner.” I did just that. We discussed Donna’s condition, children, and old friends we worked with years ago. Dave mentioned, “Tim and Alex are coming to Venice to fish with the boys. You need to come as well.” I said I would look in to coming. Knowing how much I had to do at home, my answer was really just a formality. A great evening was spent at the Ballay’s home.

I headed home the next day thinking about all of my adventures in Venice. I had a top 10 finish at a BASS Event, a day one leader of a Bassmaster Classic, and a million Redfish catches! As I reached my driveway, I assumed my role as caregiver again.

Two weeks later, I start getting text messages from Debbie. “Are you coming? We want you to come down!” The text that got me to really thinking was this. “If you don’t come down, we are coming to get you!” Debbie threatened me and convinced me at the same time. Donna had to kick me out the door! She knew I had to go to get my batteries recharged.

We spent one day offshore and two days inshore. Tuna, Amberjacks, Sharks and Snapper kept us busy out in the blue water. I wrangled a 45lb Amberjack for 20 minutes after it hit a top water plug 4 feet from the boat! The Redfish were plentiful as well inshore. I came home with Redfish fillets for my son.

Mark Menendez 18lb RedfishIt was just the trip I needed. No phones, doctors, or work to worry about. Good friends, good food, and good fishing rounded out the three F’s in my life! One can never say that things don’t happen for a reason! Why did Strike King send me to Gander Mountain? It was for work or was there a high power at work? As I ran the back channels with Brandon Ballay on the lower Mississippi River the power was all around!

Mark Menendez is a Bassmaster Elite angler. You may follow him at Facebook and Twitter.