Without hesitation, I am telling you that even though I appear boisterous, often outspoken and like to crack jokes, I admit to being somewhat of a reclusive person when I am confronted by readers or radio show listeners.
I am often uncomfortable when someone walks up to me in an airport and points to me while calling out my name.
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And when a fellow angler came rushing up to me, out of breath, very excited, and shivering from the cold minutes after leaving the latest fishing show in Rosemont, he asked me to wait a minute or two so he could gather his thoughts.
"I wanted your recommendation as to whether or not I should sign up for his classes again," he asked. "I also wanted to know why you have him on your radio show so much every year."
I knew to whom he was referring, but just on the chance I was wrong I asked him to be a bit clearer.
"I saw you two guys sitting in the Grandt Rod booth at the outdoor show. It's Spence Petros I'm talking about," he replied.
I started the truck, and invited the "old timer" to join me inside.
"I've already been to his fishing classes twice," he shot back, "and for an old guy like me I didn't think there was much more, or anything else for that matter, for me to learn about catching fish."
That story is basically an echo of countless tales I've heard from anglers who believe one or two rides on the merry-go-round will qualify them for a job as a jockey.
Well, maybe not a jockey, or not even a guide on local waters. I have Petros on my outdoor talk show because the program is the only fishing teaching venue on Chicago radio.
I managed to learn a few things after six-plus decades of being on lakes and rivers throughout the Midwest. And one of the greatest lessons tucked away in my addled brain is that I truly hadn't practiced all the lessons I have learned along the way.
Even when I was guiding anglers across two dozen lakes in the Twin Cities, a dozen or so lakes in the Hayward, Wis., area, and a few spots on a river, I had a long way to go before I could really call myself experienced and worthy enough to say with pride that I was a good guide.
Petros, a 72-year-old macho man, can easily draw attention to his angling prowess just by showing up in a room and opening his mouth.
I am not his public relations person, nor does he pay me to tout his expertise. But I am eager to fish with him and learn more tricks of the trade from a true natural starting his 40th year of fishing classes.
As luck would have it, I was able to partake in the Petros on-water school on Lake Geneva, Lake Delavan, Lake Huites (in Mexico), numerous local ponds, and several other sub-Arctic spots. Everything I experienced went into the book of treasured lessons.
So goes the oft-repeated story about the angling teacher.
I said to the stranger that I believed there are lots of new things that will be explained in the classes, and it never hurts to have an open mind. He finally agreed.
Spence has been guiding fishermen on Lake Delavan and Lake Geneva for a long time. His clients' successes are legendary, and his own personal catches can fill how-to manuals. Shallow or deeper water, Spencer's intuitive water and fish knowledge has been shared with thousands of fishermen who hunger to better themselves. And many do so by taking his classes year after year.
The bass and panfish session starts March 12 n Tuesday nights and ends April 9. The muskie, pike, and walleye group runs on Wednesdays, March 13 through April 10.
Both classes will be at the Palatine American Legion Post, 122 W. Palatine Rd. Call Petros to register or go to his Web page. Adults are charged $80 while the under 18 cost is $40.
For more information about Spence Petros and the classes, visit www.spencepetros.com or call (815) 455-7770.
•Contact Mike Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM and live-streamed at www.mikejacksonoutdoors.com.