Fishing's greatest reward: A shared memory
I am a moody and very judgmental chap.
I'm qualifying the following column because there are only two television fishing shows I'll watch on any given day. I enjoy both Lindner's "Angling Edge" and Babe Winkelman's "Good Fishing".
And it was just the other day that Winkelman's show brought me to tears.
But first I'll turn the clock back to those days when I couldn't wait for my Dad's signal that we were heading to the Fox Chain for a day of angling.
We lived in a third-floor apartment. It was a crowded but we managed to flourish, even with one bathroom.
It was my job to load the trunk of Dad's car. I wrestled the outboard from the storage shed to the street and into the spacious trunk. Rods, tackle boxes, and a cooler followed. And off we went.
"Old man Heisman" greeted us at his place on Lake Marie just as the sun was making itself known.
The 5-hp green Johnson Sea Horse slowly took us to deep water. An anchor was tossed and we went to work with tiny minnows and cork floats. The crappies responded, and soon our fish bucket resembled a Lawrence Avenue fish store.
Not every outing was as good as this one. And it didn't matter. Just being with Irv was good enough for me.
Winkelman's recent show depicted a Minnesota family having a great time at their retreat on Rainy Lake, just inside Ontario.
Rainy can be as wild as you want it to be, offering both novice and experienced fisherman a thrill a minute, supplied by pike, walleye, perch, smallmouth, and muskie.
Babe talked about Vernon, the family's 86-year-old patriarch and a World War II veteran who loved every second of being with the family on the lake.
There were times in my life when Irv would take cousin Earl with us to Pistakee Lake. I distinctly remember my father leaving his spinning rod and reel on the dock while he went to schmooze with resort owner Tommy Harrison while Earl and I shivered from the cold and waited on the dock.
We heard a noise and looked over to where the rod was situated and saw it heading for the water.
We never reached it in time. Some big fish grabbed the minnow on the end and made off with the entire rig.
When Irv returned, he asked us where his gear was. We stammered that a fish took it and headed for deep water. And then we all laughed.
Irv and I caught big pike in Manitoba, muskies on Eagle Lake, Ontario, jumbo smallies and muskies on Grindstone Lake in Hayward, and lunker Florida bass from golf course ponds in the southeast portion of the sunshine state.
Winkelman's crew caught Vernon smiling when he described his World War II combat experience. The same scenario involved Irv in the South Pacific.
When I lived in Minneapolis, I was a guide in my spare time on 20 or so lakes in the metro area. During one visit with my parents, I took Irv to Lake Minnetonka (west of Minneapolis), and we proceeded to nail big pike and smallmouth bass.
"You've got a gold mine here lad," he constantly told me. I nodded in agreement.
We caught a lot of fish on that trip, and it was enough "fuel" for me to write a magazine piece about Irv entitled, "You can teach an old Dog New Tricks."
I may have lost my fishing buddy in 1984, but I'll never forget what and how he taught about fishing, or his lessons on how to bring down an Illinois pheasant.
I'm just a lucky guy.
•Contact Mike Jackson at email@example.com, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM and live-streamed at www.mikejacksonoutdoors.com.
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