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updated: 6/27/2012 11:52 AM

Variety is key to a healthy fishing fixation

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  • Video: Salmon on Baldwin River


Like a wild river sending water to misty oblivion, nearly all aspects of fishing joyfully course through my circulatory system. If you doubt me, come with me on my journeys and see for yourself.

I recently went for a checkup at my primary doctor. Of course, it used to be that we never referred to these people as "primary," but rather our doctor.

Naturally, I asked myself if he's my primary, then who is my secondary? A question never answered by anyone in his office.

I told the doctor this is my season to shine. It's my time to open up and allow all the pent-up energy and frustration hiss its way out toward the hot, open air. He laughed and nodded his head without any real understanding. I told that I relish the moments when I see a bluegill inhaling a fly or micro-jig. He didn't get it, but why should he?

The only person I know in the medical field who absorbs what I am saying is Dan Kuesis, an orthopedic surgeon who craves big tarpon, jumbo crappie and muskies.

On a daily basis Kuesis is focused on healing our limbs and attitudes. If he could, I know he would jump at joining me along the banks of the Kishwaukee River eyeballing smallmouth on the feed bag.

I was extremely fortunate to share an exotic, Chilean stream with angling friend Paul Melchior. When our guide told us to take a break for lunch, we had no idea this chap would lay out silver service for us, a sparkling and pressed tablecloth and a bottle of Chilean wine.

Charcoal briquettes signaled to the guide that he should gently lay a huge piece of local beef on the grill. Minutes later we ate. Our mouths were filled with some of the best beef ever, and while chewing and sipping the wine we found ourselves staring at the nearby peaks of the Andes.

The scene was breathtaking. The main course was accompanied by a fresh salad and vegetables.

"Gracias, my friend," I said to our guide. "Mucho gusto," he answered.

My angling obsession also has led me to smallmouth heaven in the Sylvania Wilderness Area near Watersmeet, Mich. I can remember those first gulps of sweet water from one of the lakes. I can easily recall my first 5-pound smallmouth bass after weighing and releasing it.

The late Mr. Miller, from Elkhart, Ind., taught me about night-feeding huge brown trout on the prowl. I complained as we approached the stream that I would never be able to cast a fly in the dark. He suggested I shut my mouth and focus on the sounds of trout rising to the surface to slurp bugs. Three pounds of brown power slipped into the net as Miller's proof of expertise showed itself.

Throughout my professional life I have run in to dozens of anglers whom could have easily fit into the category of folk legend.

Some stood their ground after hooking mammoth rainbow trout on one of their tiny, hand-tied creations.

Another kindhearted soul became a stream magician after reviving what at first appeared to be a worn-out spinning reel he'd eyeballed at a rummage sale All it took was a couple hours of cleaning gears, adding fresh oil, and tightening a screw or two, just to make it sing glorious notes coming from a drag that still had what it took to make this chap a winner in all those lake and river battles.

It was on the Baldwin River in lower Michigan one evening when friend Howard Sanders and I were besieged by a battalion of bats determined to clear the air of mosquitoes and other flying critters. On one pass, I swore I saw three bats swoop in and try to grab the fly I was casting to rising fish. It was a circus of mid-air acrobatics.

I am obsessed spending time on the water. I am forever locked in to the feel of a largemouth strike, a brown's give-and-take, or a smallie letting me know it's the royalty of the rocks and gravel.

This is something no one can take from me. And even when the action is no more, I will always remember the tug.

•Contact Mike Jackson at, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM and live-streamed at

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