As you might have guessed the topic for this article is one that is a favourite pastime of grumpy old men. We will fish in any kind of weather, on any kind of surface like ice or rough waves, in any kind of boat, and will spend a fortune just to get a fish from the hook to the frying pan. Yah sure we hear about catch and release but I’m pretty sure those folks are vegetarians and sadists who just like to rip the hook out of a fish’s mouth and throw them bleeding back into the water. We old farts happen to like the taste of fish and also enjoy a good fight but let’s get a few things straight first.
For a lot of us catching the big one or any fish at all is not our greatest priority. It’s the fact that we get away from all those that irritate us and the woes of the world. Whether you are standing on the shore of a lake or river or sitting in a boat that little strip is your jurisdiction and there’s hell to pay to anyone who violates your version of heaven. Sure it’s nice to catch your supper but we just chalk that up to being a bonus. It’s when a herd of grumpy old men get together that the competitive spirit gets the best of us and brings out the worst. When you are by yourself, a fish, which is just over the legal length, might as well be a trophy-size monster. You enjoyed the fight, you’re proud of yourself and you get to feed on your victory, who could ask for anything else? It’s when we get together that things get touchy. All it takes is one snicker from your grumpy brethren to start a war and you quickly find out that a fishing rod makes a nifty whip to whack the guy that used to be your friend right on the buttocks. When we get together our gambling instinct get the best of us as well. For me and a few others everyone has to have three five dollar bills. Before you ask or phone me in the middle of the night to solve this mystery I’ll explain. The first five is for the first fish caught, the second for the biggest fish and the third is for whoever catches their limit first. Depending on how many are fishing with you there is money to be made and unfortunately enemies who may throw you overboard or onto sharp rocks if you’re fishing from shore.
The right equipment
There is literally millions of dollars being made on just the right fishing gear. For every species of fish out there someone has made a hook or some bait. I’ve seen hooks sold for outrageous prices only to have him embarrassed by the guy next to him who bought a hook for 50 cents at a garage sale and is pulling them in like crazy. Fishing rods and reels are a different story though. You get what you pay for. If you buy a cheap set then you’re lucky if they last the season or your fishing trip. Nothing hurts more than having your rod break in two after you’ve caught the big one. Actually having your buddies laugh at you hurts more until you whack them with the remnants of your rod as mentioned before. Tackle boxes come in all shapes and sizes and some will hold more stuff than an ocean-going freighter. I’ve seen some with compartments for everything and anything and some of my fishin’ buddies have two of them because they’ve accumulated so much over the years. If you don’t want to be the object of ridicule don’t show up with a shiny new one. Before you head out run over it a few times, whack it with a hammer and use a scouring pad to give it that aged look. It gives the impression you know what you’re doing and you that you should be looked upon with awe and respect.
Clothing and such
Dress for the weather not the occasion. Spandex is out of the question and the more hooks and doodads you have connected to your apparel the better. Rubber boots are much better than sandals and a hat is usually a good idea unless you enjoy sunstroke or getting your chrome dome soaked in a downpour. Whether you have matching colors for your clothing is irrelevant. The only judge you are going to run into who may criticize your choices may be your significant other but she’s just as glad to get rid of you for the day as you are to get away. Bright colors sometimes help’ especially if you’re the type of guy who likes to stand in a boat and wave that rod around. It’s much easier for your friends to find you in the water after they throw you in. The one thing that no one should argue with when it comes to apparel is a life jacket. They invented those for a reason and it might save your life some day so you can go home and brag about the monsters you caught and the big one that got away.
So that’s pretty well it. If you’re all stocked up and ready to fish don’t forget the most important piece of fishing gear required. A licence. The last thing you want is to have your catch confiscated because you were too cheap to spring for that little piece of paper.
Well-known raconteur Len Podbisky is a former Thompson Citizen and Nickel Belt News reporter and former news director of Arctic Radio CHTM-610 AM who now lives in The Pas