Daily photo by Emily Saunders|
Decatur resident Michael Schreck sits in his studio with a portrait he painted of Bill Wyker and Wyker’s son, Ben.
Special painting helps family recall special fishing trips
By Paul Stackhouse
Graduating from high school is normally a big moment in any child’s life. Walking across the stage and receiving a diploma in front of friends and family makes for memories that last a lifetime.
Bill Wyker of Decatur is the proud father of three boys, all of whom have seen graduation day come and go. Like many parents, Bill and his wife Catherine, gave each of their sons a special graduation gift.
While some grads receive money or gift certificates, Adam (age 23 and a student at Alabama) and Ben Wyker (21 and a student at Alabama) received airline tickets — they were allowed to go on a fishing trip anywhere in the world with their father.
Their oldest son, 26-year-old Will, is to receive his airline tickets in months to come, and he faces the same tough decision that his brothers did:
Where in the world will he want to go?
Looking at a globe, without a doubt, “anywhere” is a very large place.
Adam’s trip to Alaska took place in the summer of 2003, while Ben’s adventure to Brazil occurred around Christmas in 2005.
“These trips started with my father and grandfather,” Bill said. “They would take me fishing to South Florida or duck hunting in Arkansas.”
But Bill has discovered another way to make these trips even more special — he has contracted with a local artist to paint a remembrance of the vacations.
Walking into Bill’s office at Morgan Keegan on Lee Street, a visitor immediately will notice a large painting of Bill and Ben. Ben was holding a 20-pound-plus peacock bass caught on the Amazon River in Brazil.
The painting showed much more than just Bill, Ben and a fish — it was detailed with items that made the trip special.
A boat in the background was the vessel that Bill and Ben lived on for a week. It had room for 16 anglers plus staff members. The boat would travel at night so that the fishermen would wake up to fish a different location each and every day.
To Ben’s left are red-colored flowers that he picked as a gift for his mother. The artwork also shows the duo standing on the boat they were using to fish out of and gives a complete and detailed illustration of the peacock bass and the lure that was used to catch the trophy fish.
“I took several photographs to (Michael) Schreck that showed a lot of detail about our trip,” Bill said. “Schreck lives here in Decatur, and he is well known worldwide for his outdoor artistry. He only does painting like this every so often and I’m grateful he did these for me.
“He took the photos I gave him and put them together in one big painting that tells the story of our trip just by looking at it. It’s beautiful. I also have one of my trip with Adam in Alaska. It’s just as beautiful and detailed as this one with Ben and myself.”
Adam’s trip took father and son to Alaska, where the two fly-fished for king salmon, sockeye salmon and 20-inch-plus rainbow trout. Bill said they were not able to fly-fish for the peacock bass, which in all likelihood would tear up regular bass tackle or light-to-moderate fly-fishing gear.
“I don’t think there is any doubt, especially in my mind, that the peacock bass is the meanest freshwater fish in the world,” he said. “I mean, if you know the fish and you think about it long enough, the peacock bass’s favorite meal is piranha.
“If you just mention ‘piranha’ to some people, they immediately are struck with fear. But, this fish, the peacock bass, goes out looking for piranha to eat.”
Will, who works as a banker in Atlanta, hasn’t decided yet where he wants his father to take him.
“More than likely, Will’s trip will be going to Argentina to trout fish,” Bill said.
Whether it’s Argentina or elsewhere, he has a special trip and painting waiting for him.
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