When my friend Roger walked into my tackle room, aka the basement, he immediately shook his head and whistled all at once.
I'll set the stage.
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Roger had returned to the suburbs after taking care of his ailing mother for over 14 years in south Florida.
He used to be one of my regular fishing buds up here in the days when we would clobber bass on Bangs Lake and the Chain. When I would make my frequent trips to Florida, the two of us would fish for bass on Lake Okeechobee as well as a few other hot spots down there.
When his mother passed away he decided to return to his home state.
I'd purchased a set of unassembled cabinets, on sale mind you, from a local big-box hardware store, and with the help of Mike Seeling and his open-bed truck, we brought the load to my home.
I slowly transferred the contents of the boxes to the basement, piece by piece, and mentally prepared myself to try and interpret the instructions and diagrams so as to put the stuff together and begin storing all my outdoor-related items. Of course, I was kidding myself.
So Roger comes over and we go downstairs. He immediately let out a soft whistle, sigh, and exclamation when he saw the tackle boxes stacked up like the Leaning Tower of Pisa replica on Touhy Avenue in Niles.
For a little over an hour, both of us tried in vain to decipher the instruction booklet furnished by the cabinet manufacturer. After racking our brains we mutually decided to come back and revisit the project another day and then attempt to pretend to know what we were doing.
As I put the screws and hinges back into all six bags, Roger started salivating as his eyes scanned the man-made obstacle course of tackle boxes and accessories. I tried distracting him -- to no avail.
After years of schlepping a large tackle box to on-shore fishing locations, I started developing back pains. I just assumed I turned my body the wrong way or the problem may have centered on a muscle cramp.
When I once switched over to a light tackle bag with just a half dozen lures, I fished the entire afternoon without any back issues, but the next day out to the same spot I dragged a "big bertha' box to the location and suffered the usual consequences. What's an angler to do?
And it was just after that last back incident some years ago that I started writing here about downsizing your tackle choices and how to transport the important lures.
I've stuck to that, especially when I'm bank fishing on local ponds and even the shorelines of the Fox River. And when I'm wading a river or small stream, I'll have an over-the-shoulder, light bag filled with only the essentials.
When Roger moved back here he left a lot of his tackle in Florida because he didn't have room in his gas guzzler for all of his toys.
And then it dawned on me. I remembered an episode of the Seinfeld show where one of the characters wrapped some presents they received but didn't want. They called it re-gifting, and all it took was some fresh holiday wrapping paper, a bow, and a willingness to take a chance.
So I inspected my larder of tackle boxes and still-unopened, older fishing lures that had been hanging in my workshop for a decade. I figured that since Roger had completely drooled all over his flannel shirt when trying to help me with the cabinets, he could make good use of my surplus goods, including tackle boxes, etc., which at one time or another brought me both a pain in my back and my neck.
I already feel a sense of relief -- until the next sale, anyway.
• Contact Mike Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM.