Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Here is a story I wrote about my friend John Havlicek. Not exactly sure when I wrote it and it wasn't ever published anywhere. I hope you enjoy and stay tuned for more.....much more!!- Flip

"Pals" by Flip Pallot

Twenty five and thirty years ago the name John Havlicek was well known to every basketball fan on planet earth. John played for the Boston Celtics when they were THE team to beat..........when basketball was a game, when fans not only idolized, but really loved the players. In spite of the passage of all these years and the coming and going of many great players there are still NBA records with Johns name on them.

Twenty two years ago John spent his last day in a Celtics uniform and I spent my very last day in an office wearing a coat and tie. We retired within days of one another from careers followed since school days......his having been much more illustrious than mine!

Our television fishing debuts took place on exactly the same day and place. We teamed up to film and episode of the Outdoor Life television series which was the successor to the throne of the ABC American Sportsman series.

We were filming a bonefish and permit show in South Florida. Right in South Biscayne Bay. John flew in from his Boston home and stayed at a motel in Homestead along with the film crew. I met them each of five mornings with my skiff at the Homestead Bayfront Park launching ramp. Although John's basketball skills were legendary, his fishing skills were not. He was however, eminently coachable, had great eyes for spotting fish and was as fishy as they come. His nearly seven foot height made him resemble a great blue heron perched on the front of my small bonefish skiff.

Over the course of the filming's five days John's skills improved hourly and at the end of the shoot John had caught numerous bonefish and a permit or two. I remember that one night we all repaired to my house where we ate one of John's permit and gained it's power.

For a number of years after making that film I corresponded with John but our fishing paths never crossed. Finally, one evening I was speaking at the annual banquet of a fly fishing club in Boston. John, although not a member, learned that I would be there and showed up to visit with me during the cocktail hour. We vowed to fish together soon........It didnt happen.

A few years later I ran into John again in the Florida Keys. John was a regular participant in the Redbone Charity Tournament series and I was fishing the Redbone that year with my friends John Donnell and Mitch Howell. Havlicek and I had a chance to catch up on what one another was up to and we vowed to fish together soon...........It didnt happen.

Over time, John's fishing skills did become legendary (no surprise to me). He even started his own very successful, annual,  charity tournament in New England and invited me to fish it one year.......It didnt happen. I was traveling and not able to make it.

Several years ago I was planning to film a sailfish show for the Walkers Cay Chronicles on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. I thought of John and what a great fishing reunion it would be for us to do the show together. I phoned him and extended the invitation. I’ll check my schedule he said...........It didnt happen. He was traveling and not able to make it.

Finally and at long last, after twenty two years,  in the Summer of 2000, the planets aligned themselves. John Havlicek and Flip Pallot found themselves together in a canoe, deep in the Everglades, once again filming a fishing show. It was amazing to witness how far John had advanced as an angler. It caused me to think of one of my favorite movie lines uttered to Robert Redford in the film Jeremiah Johnson.......You’ve come far pilgrim.

We made an excellent film and John got his first look at the wild heart of the Everglades. He caught snook, sea trout, and redfish and encountered an alligator at much closer range than he might have liked. John and I had plenty of time each evening during the filming to catch up on one anothers lives and we vowed to fish together again soon..........And it happened!

 Yesterday evening at dark, John pulled out of my driveway and headed back to South Florida where he spends his Winters. We had spent the fishing day together in absence of cameras. John got his first airboat ride and his first look at the St. Johns River (one of my very favorite places). We fly fished for American Shad , another first for John. I sat on the bank at one point and watched John destroy shad on a three weight rod and some shad flies tied by John Turcot.

We ended the day by walking the marsh and shooting some snipe. Yet another first for John. As the sun slipped away, west of the house, we enjoyed an adult beverage, cleaned the snipe which John would take home and eat, and vowed to get together again real soon.......... It will happen!

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