Let’s go Fishing 1992

1 05 2012

This is part of a series of writings I did in 1992.  Surprising, this is as true today, as it was 20 years ago, and Dale is still my fishing partner; 33 years this spring.

“Let’s go fishing this weekend,” Dale suggests, and I readily agree.  We have been fishing partners for our entire married life.  After some fishing trips, remaining married is a feat.  Sometimes our trips have been known to turn into a comedy of errors.  However, I am always ready to go fishing regardless of the time we must leave, the cold weather, or even a clash with Mother Nature.

Four o’clock a.m. comes early the morning of our trip.  An entire pot of strong black coffee is not enough to open my eyes.  I stumble incoherently out to the old pick-up truck; after scraping ice off of the windows, we embark on a day of fun.

“Quit breathing, you are fogging up the windshield” Dale demands, “Just wait until the heater warms up.”

Just as I am about to black out from the lack of oxygen, the first wisps of warmth are emitted from the heater.  Coincidentally, this also marks our arrival at the lake.

The morning sky is ominous looking, indicating that the weather will be unstable.  We unload our essential equipment, and trudge down the slippery, mud covered slope to the dark and menacing lake.  Cold, slimy mud oozes over the top of my boots, instantly putting a spring in my step.  The nip in the air is chillingly refreshing, not cold enough to numb your extremities.  However, I wish my feet were numb, so I could not feel the mud squishing between my toes.  The wind has calmed to a mere gale.  A perfect day for fishing, usually the weather is unmistakably miserable when we manage to take off a day.  I attempt to bait up with a worm, who is no happier to be awake at this hour then I am.  After struggling to pierce the squirming bait with a hook, I finally feel the barbs penetrate.  I lean back, and cast smoothly into a deep pool of water about 25 feet from the shore.  I snuggle down into my heavy wool jacket, waiting for the moment when a fish decides to breakfast on my bait.  Before long I am rewarded with a persistent pull on my line.  I quickly reel in the fish, which is only a small bass.  The fish is returned to the water, and the process is repeated.

Mother Nature now decides to throw her worst at us, and the wind increases to tempest storm intensity, the wind chill-factor is dropping rapidly.  The next cast of my line results in it being slapped back in my face, as if thrown by an invisible hand.  I am grateful for my cold weather clothing, but even it is not enough to ward off the frigid air.  It has now become a challenge just to get the line into the water, and not freeze while doing so.  This becomes a battle of the wills, and Mother Nature wins.  Dale and I pack up our equipment, and trudge up the slippery hill to the eventual warmth of the truck.

This has all been a minor deterrent, and we will continue to go fishing whenever the chance arises.  Awaking at 4:00 am, scrapping ice off of our windows, battling Mother Nature in a slightly unfair battler of the wills is all part of the allure of the sport.  Next time maybe the odds will be in my favor, and I will win.

My fishing partner

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There’s a Fish 1992-2012

1 05 2012

This was wrote 11-13-1992, twenty years ago!  I was reminiscing and looking through some old writings of mine and found this.

Fishing equipment, in my possession, has evolved tremendously since my childhood.  The elaborate equipment used today differs greatly from the Spartan gear of my past, even the bait has been refashioned.

The fishing equipment I use today has become very expensive; however the quantities of gear have increased as well.  Merely to fish from a shore area, I outfit myself with two or three different types of rods, a net, portable fish finder, hip waders, and a fully stocked tackle box.  My box is overflowing with hundreds of scientifically designed lures, costing thousands of hard earned dollars.  Each lure is unique in either design, color, weight, or length.  Each is designed to be used in very specific situations.  I have a black, two inch long Jitterbug used only for bass at night.  Walleye Wonders, in nine colors and four weights, have possession of a large portion of my box, and I only use them when drifting for walleye.  I have tiny lures resembling crayfish, used solely for fishing for smallmouth bass in the river.  Gone are the days of simplicity.

As a child I owned just one basic, broken cane pole, with no reel.  A cigar box was transformed to hold my treasure trove of tackle; five or six hooks, and a piece of line scrounged from my Grandfather.  These were truly treasures.  I showed off my collection as if it were worth a million dollars.  My fish finder was my little sister, who would race along the lake banks screaming “Look, there’s a fish!”  I never had to replace her batteries, and I did not have to worry about forgetting my fish finder; she tagged along whether I wanted her to or not.  Wading boots were whatever shoes I was wearing when I waded into the water.  These could have been play shoes, or occasionally school shoes.  Getting wet was part of the fun, so no attempts were made to avoid dampness.  I did not have the complex decisions to make about what lure to use, a worm worked in every circumstance.

Worms have also evolved, because the fish apparently have become educated, in the quarter century I have been fishing.  There were times when I could fish all day with a grubby earthworm, dug from the manure pile, and catch some nice “keepers”.  Keep in mind, as a child, any fish large enough to take the hook was declared a “keeper”.  Now I fish scientifically, and my “keepers” must be trophies.  The thrill of the catch is not enough anymore, now I need an impressive size to thrill me.  Live bait apparently comes from the bait shop.  Ask for worms at these shops, and they think you are uncouth; the proper terms are night crawlers and blood worms.  I still slip up, and in a moment of forgetfulness call them worms.

All the advancements in my fishing equipment were made to enhance my ability to catch fish.  Fish finders, wading boots and lures contrast greatly to the days of a worm on a hook, and my sister tagging along.  The challenge in fishing has elevated to the point of only desiring trophies.  I yearn for the days of contentment, when fishing was simply, basically, for fun.

Added 4-30-2012

Now let’s jump ahead those twenty years, have I found contentment in fishing for fun?  My love of fishing has never died.  I am ready to go fishing anytime, anyplace.  For some things we have simplified, for others we have gone over the top.

The only time I use a fish finder anymore is upon the Happy Boy, a 50’ Bertram.  This boat is also equipped with every type of electronics; sonar, radar, depth finders, auto-navigation.  You name it, this boat has it.  Do you know how we search for marlin?  With a simple pair of binoculars.  Don’t get me wrong, I love this boat.  But this house on the water is over the top with gadgets.

My rods have evolved to the point of St. Croix and Sage rods.  Yes they cost much more than my cane pole, but I do enjoy the added sensitivity these rods produce.  My reels are usually Penns or Fin-Nors.  I use them simply because I like them.  I have a room, the size of most bedrooms; this is my tackle box now.  Drawers are organized for each type of fishing we do.  I do not even want to think about how much money is spent on all of the lures I have.  I do still show off my collection as if it were worth a million dollars and today that number is a lot closer to its value.

We fly to other countries to fish for world class fish.  We vacation all over the United States to fish some of the greatest waters on Earth.  The Happy Boy is docked in the Florida Keys.  These are my fishing waters of today.  My contentment now comes from being able to expose my grandchildren to these great fisheries.

We only use worms (yes worms-not night crawlers or blood worms) when we fish with our grandchildren.  I still love catching bluegills, bass and catfish on a simple hook and worm setup.  I am thrilled by the look on our granddaughter’s face when she hooks a catfish, and exclaims “Nana, Nana come quick!”, and I do.  A simple rod and reel, a pair of pliers, a hook, worm and bobber does the trick.  These are our trophies today.

We have gone full circle.  We have the expensive toys to play with and enjoy, but the greatest times are still the simpler ones.  Got to go, Ryan has a fish on!