A Tribute to Captain Bill Hope

Captain Bill Hope my friend, my mentor and my fishing buddy passed on Monday, February 4, 2013. The following is the eulogy that I gave at his funeral...

Wow, I always believed that Bill was one of those guys I thought was going to be with us forever. Now I realize it’s that, he’s going to be in our hearts forever! So how does a “Yankee from Brooklyn” and a “Florida Fishing Legend” like Bill become such good friends? Of course, the answer is simple, it’s fishing.

Bill and I started our fishing tradition together back on Thanksgiving weekend in 1983. He would always say that I was his oldest client but I would always remind him that I was his longest client because I know a couple of you may be a little older than me. This was a tradition that went on almost every Thanksgiving weekend for the last 30 years! He knew that the day after Thanksgiving; even if we didn’t speak about it, that I would be there and that I would ALWAYS have a turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce on it for him.

Bill’s passion for fishing renewed my childhood love & passion for fishing! Bill’s love for the Chassahowitzka River made me fall in love with the “Cheese & Whiskey” River! Bill taught me how to spell Chassahowitzka by filling in all the cards for the Redfish we tagged and released over the years.

I started fishing with Bill before he had his Captain’s license during the pre-Carolina Skiff days from his homemade wooden flats boat that I believe was made by either or both Cricket & Johnny Roush. I can remember Bill saying if we got stopped on the way back in that we were just a group of friends fishing together. Though, I would always ask him if we were friends why we were paying him.

Bill was always teaching you about fishing and the history of the area without you ever realizing that he was teaching you anything. Bill had a GPS but never used it as his knowledge of these waters will never be equaled.

It was Bill that nicknamed me “Red ED”! On a day when with just a simple backhand toss in front of the boat, we caught Redfish after Redfish off the bow until we lost count of how many we caught! This was during his videotaping era and he was recording the entire day’s adventure.

Bill always loved to have children on the boat and I’m sure most of us have memories of our children catching their first fish with Bill.

  • It was Bill that made me the fisherman I am today!
  • It’s because of Bill that I’m a guide and Captain today!
  • It’s because of Bill that I’m a member of the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA)! Remember Peggy you just had to have that scooter!
  • It’s because of Bill that I live in Homosassa today!
  • It’s because of Bill that I have two boats behind my house today!
  • It’s because of Bill that I’m the man I am today!
  • It’s because of our love for Bill that we’re all here today!

Bill was not only a close friend, we became like family but he was also my mentor and taught me everything I know about fishing here on Florida’s Nature Coast! Which he was always quick to remind me isn’t much!

When you met Bill and especially if you were lucky enough to get to know Bill you knew he was a special man. He was happy, kind and loved to live life! And oh yeah, he is and always will be a Seminole! It was in his eyes, you just had to look to see!

We became so close that we really didn’t need to say anything to each other; we knew what each other were thinking. Bill never did tell me that he loved me but I could see in his eyes that not only did he love me that he was also very proud of me! Bill we all love you and you’re going to be missed!

Thanks for all the memories!

Responses from Family and Friends

Peggy Hope, Brooksville, Florida - Y'all did share a lot of good times....I miss him so much!

Bill Sholk, Altamonte Springs, Florida - Very well said, Ed.

Ginger LaBouchardiere, Palm Harbor, Florida - Thanks for sharing Capt. Ed! A dear friend I've known for thirty plus years just passed as well and yes they will always remain in our hearts. We all had so much fun scalloping and hanging out with you in town, you were great! Look forward to doing it again. Take Care, Ginger.

Judy Hall, Angler Adventures, Old Lyme, CT. - Very nice Eulogy, had me in tears and I never met the man!

Ali Fox, New York City - ED, Sorry to hear about Bill. He certainly sounds like a special man.

Steve Coyte, Dallas, TX - Nice! He would have loved it.

G. Layton - A GOOD man, and lucky enough to have fished out of a "Roush Planer." Thanks for sharing!

Tom Keator, Southeast Asia - Well done and my sediments also!

Veronica Radcliffe, Littleton, CO - Nice tribute, Eddie -- hard to do, I'm sure.

Captain Cathy Madigan Eagle, Useppa Island, Florida - What a great tribute, I feel like I know Captain Bill through your kind words!

Jim Taylor, Weeki Wachee, Florida – Yes, he will be missed!

Jeff Olson, Chicago, IL - Very sorry for your loss Ed!

Dr. Bob Hartzell, Spring Hill, FL - Very, very nice!!

Jim Kimbrough, Brooksville, FL - Thx for sharing ...was not able to make the service. Grew up with Bill, he was a year ahead of me in High School....a good man, master of his profession who loved people and watching them have fun with him. Trust all is well with you. Take care. Jim

Dave Nugent, Indiana - Sounds like you lost a very special, good friend. I have a special few here in Indiana. Cherish those moments and live that legacy, as I do here.

Steve Upp, Polk City, Florida - Hello Captain Ed, Just wanted to drop you an e-mail to say it was nice meeting you at Fish on Fire in Orlando the night before you departed on your trip to Costa Rica. Although I mostly fish the East coast I have been receiving your reports after signing up for them while planning a scalloping trip a couple of years ago. What a small world that we would meet shortly after your tribute to Captain Bill Hope. I went back and re-read it after meeting you, what a wonderful tribute to your friend and a very insightful piece on what a wonderful, kind man he must have been. I can only imagine how proud he must be smiling down from heaven. I enjoy your reports, thank you for them, you are a talented writer. Although I don’t get over to your neck of the woods often, I will certainly drop you a line if I get over there for scalloping this year. All the Best and Cheers! Steve

Peggy Hope, Brooksville, Florida - Thank you for sending me Steve's note. It made me smile and cry! Wonderful note!