Jim McCann, left and Earnum Rinkle, right, are longtime fishing buddies

It was quite serendipitous really, how the lives of two men would be forever enriched and intertwined, all because of a misidentified boat.

Jim McCann worked for the United States postal service and served as postmaster general in Tatum. One day while out and about, he noticed a boat that curiously resembled his own. Thinking it could have been stolen, he decided to confront the man hauling what he believed to be his rig. Much to his chagrin, McCann discovered it purely coincidental.

The man pulling the doppelganger boat, Earnum Rinkle, owned the local grocery store in Tatum. After realizing the heist was a hoax, the two men shared a good laugh and a lifelong friendship was born.

You might call hook, line and forever friendship. The two gents decided to go fishing together, thus forming a partnership that’s sustained nearly three decades.

And when the Tuesday Night Open Pot Bass Tournament kicks off its 30th year on Tuesday at Martin Creek, you can bet McCann and Rinkle will be in a boat competing. They haven’t missed too many opportunities since the event was founded back in 1990.

The long-standing spring/summer angling event was founded by Dana Vinson and has run continuously for 30 years. McCann actually ran the tournament for nearly a decade, but has long since resigned himself to simply participating and doing so with his best friend.

“I guess you’d call Dana the founding father of the tournament. He still fishes with us every now and then. But he’s not a diehard regular like Earnum and I. But no one is,” Mccann explained. “You can count on one hand the number of Tuesday nights we’ve missed. We always look forward to it. It’s a very low-pressure tournament, and we average about 20 boats every Tuesday night.”

Entry fee for the Tuesday night tournament is set at $30 per boat, consisting one angler or two and the payback is 100%. Winner is determined on a five-stringer limit.

“It’s a very inexpensive tournament to fish. We have fathers and sons, husbands and wives, fathers and daughters, boyfriends and girlfriends. It’s a very hodgepodge group of fisherman,” said McCann, 78, who is retired from the postal service living in Lakeport.

The unique camaraderie shared between the two seasoned anglers is the primary reason their fellowship has flourished, according to Rinkle, five years McCann’s senior.

“We fish so much alike and think alike,” Rinkle said. “You know you’ve got friends and you’ve got good friends. We’re good friends.

“I’m 83 years old and don’t get around as well in boats. But we still fish. If it wasn’t for Jim I wouldn’t go fishing. Ain’t nobody else wants to waste time helping you in and out of the boat. That’s how good of friends we are.”

McCann and Rinkle have won their fair share of Tuesday night gatherings. McCann attributes any success he Rinkle have on the water to sheer tenacity.

“Earnum and I are by far the oldest team out there. We always ask for an old folks’ handicap and they all just laugh at us,” McCann contended. “We’re best friends and fish a lot of alike. He’s my partner and he will be as long as he wants to fish.”