Today 9/18/2011, I received a call from a close fishing friend Joe Ventrello, Jr or Jojo for short during a class at our church today. I did not answer since I was in a church and called him afterwards thinking he was calling me with a joke, something to see on Youtube or some good or strange news about a tournament, but this was not the call that I expected or wanted to hear on a day that was going so well.
When I called him back the first thing he said to me was, did you hear already? Hear what I asked? Jojo replied… Doug passed away last night. I was so shocked!!! I did not believe it right away, I mean I just fished a tournament last week that he fished. He seemed like the usual Doug. Being sarcastic and if you knew him he was just being Doug.
Appearently he had died in his sleep peacefully, the way he actually wanted to go. He had been battling diabetes and prostate cancer for years and if you met him you would have never known he had either. He was full of life, especially for his age. We went offshore over the summer on the Orlando Princess party boat and had a great time, we played poker while waiting until we got to the first spot. Needless to say Doug pretty much kicked our butts. We caught some fish and had a great time and now that day will be in my memory for good. I have known Doug since I was 3 or 4 years old when my dad fished tournaments in the 80′s and 90′s. I always knew him to have a constant sense of humor and always into some sort of “gig” promoting products or services. Doug will be missed by many, many people including his wife Carol and his daughters Kim, Lori and Patience. Oh yeah, Chester their dog that always ate dried dead shiners off the floor at Bitters Bait and Tackle in Longwood, FL during his almost daily visits.
Doug won his first major Bassmaster tournament in April of 1984 on the St. Johns river in Palatka, FL with 53.11 pounds and walking away with a $100,000 check in the Bassmaster Super Bass 3. After that time he had fished over 70 Bassmaster Events earning nearly $148,000 in just that circuit. He was also a very well respected and well known bass guide in Florida. He lives in Winter Springs where I live and I just cleaned Him and Carol’s Driveway and Sidewalks this past June. I am bummed out that he is no longer here to make us laugh or tell us his sometimes far fetched stories of fishing and life in general. Seeing his Gold Chevy Suburban parked at the store with his Phoenix 519 hooked to the back of it will be missed as well.
Doug Gilley was a generous, selfless and a very giving person. Nothing ever seemed to bother him, nothing! I remember I had some trouble with my trolling motor on my Skeeter once and had booked a guide trip but I had no boat. He let me borrow his boat no questions asked, he told me not to worry about the gas just replace the drinks. Of course I still put gas in it, stocked his boat with waters and sodas and even cleaned it since he never did that is just the way I am especially for someone like Doug. On a different occasion while he was fishing a tournament on Lake Toho he proved how well Powerpole anchors are built since he ran 4 or 5 miles in 3 foot of water with the Powerpole completely down. He wasn’t used to that Powerpole yet I guess. But there was no damage to it or the boat, just the bracket was crooked. There are so many memories that if I wrote them all it would be a novel. Same goes for anyone who knew him.
Doug you will be missed by everyone that had the pleasure to ever meet you or know you. Maybe not the bass though, you put a hurtin’ on em from time to time so they are somewhat relieved. You lived your life doing what you loved doing and always brought a good mood to the atmosphere no matter where you were or what you did. So while you are up there looking down, shed some good fishing days on us. I know you are eating some good BBQ and sipping a regular Mountain Dew or Pepsi right now since the sugar can’t hurt you now. I will miss you Old Man and so will many.