LAMENTS OF A TACKLE JUNKY:
AN ANGLING DEPENDENT GENTLEMAN
by Daniel Kiazyk
It's been some time since I was reintroduced to fishing (there was that period when hormones kicked in and finally marriage occurred …. a period I now fondly refer to as "the lost years") but I feel fortunate enough to say that fishing has and probably will always be a significant part of my life. I certainly know which part of my life is most significant – but there are those days when I'll forget a birthday or anniversary, mother-in-law's party or family reunion etc. etc . Nonetheless as I see it, it's all a part of the same syndrome, a healthy dependency that goes back a long way.
It all started back in my early years, when I fished with my Dad. He was a well-balanced angler. Weekend fishing trips were fine for him and the odd trip north were always a part of his angling plans. Besides we lived up north all those years as he was employed in the construction industry during a time when the north was booming. I was initiated and perhaps "hooked" on fishing (in the late sixties and very early 70's) in areas not yet opened up by roads and not yet heavily angled. Fishing was extraordinary, almost ridiculous. I can remember all the fish we caught on "Red Devils" or some other ubiquitous lure, but they were all you really needed. Marabou jigs, for example, worked like a charm with walleye but little Joe spinners tipped with fish belly would catch fish until your arms were tired. Fishing was easy, perhaps too easy. Pike the size of little league bats constantly broke us off (followed by a customary cuss) and then there were those tales of Leviathan who appeared every once in a while to leave us babbling like inmates of an asylum and frothing as though we'd been bit by some rabid animal – oh those were great days.
There was a flip side to all this great fishing, (not the babbling, frothing, and giggling like silly school children ) the built in tackle consumption factor: The more you fished and the better the fishing was, the more tackle you'd lose and the more equipment you'd wear out. I can remember the Johnson Centurys and the Zebco 202s (and if you used dads 404 you had quality…. albeit a bit worn) that would blow up or strip out or just give up the ghost with some cantankerous pike on the line's end. We weren't exactly easy on our equipment either. The drag was set on the full and they were spooled up with a minimum 20-25 lb test line – didn't' want that 2lb walleye to get away did ya? Rods too were multipurpose in so far as they would hold doors open, be dragged behind bikes, dropped, thrown, kicked for reasons still unknown to me. Finally tackle was always in short supply and Dad's tackle box was always well stocked (no wonder he would always grunt about how he lost so much tackle!)
Well the time came and fishing lost some of its charms. Puberty has a weird way of changing young people into disconnected people. For reasons unbeknownst to me I would only fish once and a while. Only every once in a while I would get the yearning to wet a line, catch some fish. The mania, however, did persist during those "lost years" I mentioned earlier on, albeit in a different form. On some Saturday afternoons I would catch myself distracted (from other distractions of course) by a series of fishing TV programs. I didn't realize it at the time, but these were formative moments for something long since ingrained. I was seeing and hearing about other approaches/thoughts that would influence me in the future. It was easy to see which program was over-burdened by advertising and sponsorship. In some instances the line was crossed to info-mercial and would wreak of something that even I didn't find appealing. Over time I would grow out of this passive fishing stage to a more active involvement into "real" fishing.
Those initial years where I ventured back into angling could be described as a baptism into angling that was comparable to becoming a born again religious zealot. My teacher was an unassuming apartment caretaker who had been bitten by the bug some years earlier. His approach to angling was already quite well refined. I must have seemed rather simplistic by his standards, but it was his ability to catch fish that set an excellent example I had to emulate. It turned out that 60,000 KM went on my car in the year that followed. The end result was growing confidence in my angling repertoire. Also propitious for my start back in fishing was that the very first fish caught in this "new" era was a master angler brown trout.
My fervour was not put out by having to sit out hours in steady rain; Yup I did catch a monstrous walleye doing this. Nor was it cooled by camping out in the Duck Mountains when temperatures fell to –8; The trout were great! I had to fish almost every road accessible lake trout lake 2x's before a behemoth came to the boat. Many experiences on the road are burned into my memory.
All the while I fished, my tackle assortment grew by leaps and bounds. Now I am not accepting full responsibility for this situation as I had met colleagues at work who had enormous tackle selections. Something once again I had to emulate. From a first tackle box, there were numerous additions. Regular tackle purchases were made via telephone, car trips and regularly visits to local tackle depots – I might add that a room was expropriated for a burgeoning tackle assortment. Some of the tackle obviously had caught me and not many fish. Well they now testify to a lesson well learned – give the fish what they want; not what you want to give them.
Fishing is a sport that draws no distinction, socially, economically, and intellectually. Despite what we've seen lately with info– mercial like TV programs, and many pseudo-intellectual approaches to angling, fishing is a activity for all folks. It affects some differently than others. In my case, it has become a passion that occupies my free time with interesting speculation and much anticipation. I have also met many good folks along the way – surprising, the sport that many feel will put your in places away from the maddening crowd has put me into contact with interesting quality people. I am very glad for that, because as I see it, those kinds of friends are all anyone needs.