BILLINGS — A life-long fisherman from Billings, Larry Sherwood, 73, recently fulfilled his dream of catching the "big one" after he reeled in an eight-foot long, 120-pound gray striped marlin while on a trip to Mexico in Cabo San Lucas.
“I caught a big one. Big one. Right here," Sherwood told MTN News on Sunday.
This past December, Sherwood traveled to Mexico with his friend Sam Moore and Sam's wife Colleen. The three originally met because Colleen works for Residential Support Services in Billings, a local group that helps house and take care of adults with intellectual disabilities. Sherwood has lived in a Residential Support Services group home in Billings since 2014, Colleen said.
Colleen introduced her husband to Sherwood and they became fast friends, bonding over their love of fishing.
“That’s all he’s ever wanted is to catch the big one and there it is, he caught the big one," Sam said.
The trio met Colleen's sister and a larger group of friends in Cabo. It was a new group of people for Sherwood, who has organic brain disease, but the group welcomed him with open arms.
“They included everybody. All of us. They made sure, especially Larry, had the time of his life," Colleen said.
While not fishing, Sherwood played cards with the group, went on excursions outside of the hotel, and even socialized at the hotel pool's swim up bar.
"All those guys that we went with. Now Larry, he's got friends for life. They hit it off. He's just part of the group. Another friend. There is no disability," Sam said.
The newfound friendship was on full display the night before the fishing trip, when Sherwood and a new pal, Barney Stegall from North Carolina, got into a squabble about who was going to hook the keeper.
“Me and Larry, he was saying he was going to get the big one. I said, ‘I’m going to get the big one.’ As it turns out, we both got the big one,” Stegall said with a laugh.
The next day out on the boat, the hunt was on. A few smaller fish found the hook first, but then after a while, it happened.
“We’re trolling around. Next thing you know, got a fish on. So we handed Larry the pole and it was a gray marlin. There you go Larry, here’s your big one. And he was just whooping and hollering and hooting," Sam said.
After a fight that lasted an hour and 20 minutes, Sherwood pulled the massive fish into the boat. The seven other men on the boat were all U.S. military veterans, and the sight of Sherwood accomplishing his goal filled them with emotion.
"I think all seven of us had a tear in our eye because Larry got his dream," Sam said.
“It brought tears to their eyes and they said, ‘I don’t want to fish anymore, this is why we’re here," Colleen said.
Unfortunately, Sherwood's fish swallowed the hook and died, so he didn't get to keep it. But the Moore's have found a taxidermist that will work up a model from pictures so Sherwood can hang the prize on his wall.
The next stop for Sherwood on his fishing adventures might be Alaska. While recounting his Mexico trip, Sherwood was dreaming of catching a salmon - hopefully another big one.