We lost Shaver Lake guide and Valley fishing icon Captain Jack Yandell last week after a bout with cancer.
Upon hearing the news, I began to think about what it was that exactly made him “Captain” and what it was about his special chemistry that attracted so many young, middle-aged and older anglers to reverently consider his friendship a special honor. Maybe one of Jack’s closest friends, Shaver Lake guide Dick Nichols, might be able to give me some insight about what ingredients made Jack, well, Jack!
Nichols and I both agreed that the real story about this man wasn’t what he had done, or how great an angler he was, but rather who he was.
Nichols recalled, “Our relationship began 17 years ago when I told Jack that I was thinking about starting a regular business. But after listening to me, he looked me in the eye and said, ‘Dick, you were meant to be a guide! It’s in your makeup!’ His vision and complete belief in me laid the foundation for my passion to guide. I believed in this guy because he had integrity, honesty and he was devoted to serving others. That model inspired me and is the one I follow to this day.”
How many people have the passion to really look inside someone and inspire them to do what they were meant to be? That’s a gift that Captain Jack had.
Nichols continued, “Jack was an evangelist for fishing. He always exuded patience, love of the sport and integrity no matter whether he was with a beginner or an expert angler. He wanted to share his heart and love of fishing with others and it was always because that was the right thing to do and not because of money. Other people saw this clearly and were drawn to him because he was the real deal – a unique quality in the world!”
Nichols and I talked about Jack’s compassion for kids. “I once saw Jack at a youth fishing clinic where lots of young kids surrounded him,” Nichols recalled. “One youngster wanted to be able to fish very badly but told Jack that he didn’t have a pole because their family didn’t have any money. Jack reached into his pocket and handed the child some bills and said, ‘Here, go buy yourself a rod and reel!’ Jack didn’t know I was watching. It was another example of a humble man standing in the gap because it was the right thing to do. He was always the same guy whether by himself or in a crowd.”
I’m sure many feel as I do, it was a privilege to have known “The Captain,” a true servant leader.
Never give up!