Joel "Mooch" Lotilla
After years of battling an insidious cancer, our friend and teammate Joel "Mooch" Lotilla has passed. Joel was incredibly active till the end, attending the Monterey Bay Fishing Derby on 9/15 and science fishing for shark just days prior to his final trip to the hospital.
His legacy includes recognition for the seminal role he played as Ambassador in the kayak fishing community and industry. A pioneer of the sport since the year 2000, Joel was a founding member of Nor Cal Kayak Anglers fishing forum and club, and was the de facto social director for NCKA's group activities, get togethers and tournament BBQ's.
Words cannot describe just how special a guy Mooch was. Famous for his "Welcome to the Madness!" greeting for newbies, Mooch was always the first to volunteer, say hello or offer assistance. And, he was the first to insist you come along! His persona was defined by inclusion, he was a caring, funny, welcoming and generous man whose presence was a gift. Our fortune is that his gifts to us will live always.
Mooch had that unique quality of truly being a "best friend." The wonder of his personality is that he could sincerely be "best friends" with so many, many people. He remembered your wife's name, your kids and even your pets. And this for EVERYBODY.
Even his sickness, which lasted for years, ultimately had the effect of bringing people together. Originally instituted as a means to defray Mooch's staggering medical expenses, "Pay It Forward" is now an institution in the NCKA community, and will continue to generate support for individuals in need both in and outside of the kayak fishing community.
Oh, and did I mention he was a very good fisherman? A generalist, Mooch found equal pleasure in pursuit of king salmon in dark spring coastal waters, trolling up lake trout under a blazing sun in the High Sierras or casting in secluded coves for crappie and bass on the many foothill lakes in Northern California. Always willing to 'give it a try,' Mooch was also serious about kayak fishing safety, and wasn't afraid to pointedly school the newbies or even old-timers, when we did something risky and stupid (like NOT wearing our PFD's).
Practical Joker, Fishing Mentor, Confidante and Counselor, Favorite Uncle, Son, Brother, and most of all- Best Fishing Buddy. We will miss you Mooch. If a person is defined by his friends, then we are all defined in part by Joel, our best friend. And, in a way Mooch is also defined by us, his friends. In both senses, "Mooch Lives."