Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Where Do I Even Begin? (part I)

Never fished a day in your life? No big deal.  There is some essential gear you are going to need.  There are three very different paths you can go down to get your gear.  The path of least resistance is to buy new gear.  The mid-resistance, less money option is used gear. Then there is the most rewarding, most challenging path, the free path! Today, let’s talk about the free route to getting started.
Chances are that you have a dad or grandpa that was an avid fisherman at some point. This person has acquired and hoarded way too much gear, trust me!  Start talking to this person about how you’d love to go fishing with them sometime but you don’t have a rod and things will probably fall into place; unless you really don’t want to go fishing with that person, then it’s time for a different approach.  
black and white of my dad starting up the Viking fishing boat
My dad and his old Viking fishing boat.
You can go visit dad and casually bring up that you want to take up fishing (again), but you don’t know what happened to your gear.  You can say, (over a beer [or three {and shots of whiskey}]) “hey dad, did I leave my fishing gear over here last time we went out?  I haven’t seen it in like fifteen years!”  Or, “didn’t you give me a fishing rod for my thirteenth birthday? I don’t think I ever even used it!”  He’ll start digging around in the garage, or basement, or whatever area he considers his man cave, and eventually he’ll come up with a rod that he’s not sure where it came from.  When he says, “Is this yours?” You should respond with “Well, I’m not sure, I don’t think so.  Damnit, what happened to my stuff?”  Then ask if it would be okay if you “borrowed” a rod.  If this works, you just got yourself a free fishing rod!  You could also ask about some tackle, just sayin’! 

If you have a dad like mine, he’s just waiting to get out on the water with you, and if you don’t have any gear, he’s gonna hook you up.  I cannot recall how many rods, nets, tackle boxes, and lures my dad has given me over the years.  The man just wants to take you out, and show you up.  Dad, you can show me up any day... except that one day when I caught that 31” salmon on your birthday, and... you didn’t go... because it was raining (damn it).

Dad catches the biggest bass.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Back to Basics

It’s not like I’m a bass pro or anything, but I have been fishing for as long as I can remember.  I’m serious about it, but mostly, I just want to have fun and enjoy being out in nature.  I usually practice catch and release, fish artificial bait as much as possible and I like to keep it cheap.  It is very easy to spend a lot of money on gear, but in my opinion, it’s more rewarding when you can fish effectively on minimum (or improvised) tackle.
A little introduction:  My wife is from Minnesota and I’m from Michigan, but we currently reside in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  We just had a little girl, who I cannot wait to take fishing with me.  Maybe I can even get my wife to take an interest if our little one does!  We love music.  She is a piano player who has a degree in music, and I taught myself to play guitar.  I am studying to be a phlebotomist and am almost finished with school.
I used to have a lot of gear, but I was careless a few years ago and I left my stuff in the back of my truck after a fishing trip and it was all stolen!  Probably close to a thousand dollars in gear.  Several rod and reel combos, including a fly rod, several tackle boxes full of gear; one box I had just gotten that Christmas from my Dad.  A lot of the tackle was brand new and unused.  
Replacing so much lost gear was just unrealistic, but lost gear couldn’t deter me from getting back out on the lakes and streams.  I think I was out the next weekend.  When I replaced my fly rod I upgraded to a slightly better model because my first one was a beginner model.  I was given another rod and reel combo that I used until I destroyed the rod beyond repair.  So, I’m back to using my backup rod again (the only one that wasn’t in the truck) when I’m not fly fishing. It has been broken and repaired a few times.  It was the rod I was using when I caught the biggest fish of my life; a 38” 25 pound chinook (I’m sure I’ll tell the story in a later blog).  I never replaced the boxes, so I usually just limit my tackle to what I can carry in a smaller tackle box with the little dividers (also, not in my truck when the robbery occurred) in an over the shoulder army surplus bag.  If I choose to take all of my gear, I can fit it in my backpack.
All of my fishing gear.

It really hurt to have lost so much equipment, but in a way, it’s good to be back to basics.  I have a few favorite lures that work under most conditions, and others that seem best in very specific conditions.  In this blog, I will share fishing stories from my past and present, how to fish effectively even in less than ideal situations, and how to make your own lures and flies that will catch fish.