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updated: 7/31/2013 9:05 PM

A retro fishing tourney? Dream on

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For me, there is something magical every time I enter my dream world.

Even when I'm having these dream-cycle conversations with my late parents, they generally have happy endings -- especially when I am reliving our family trips to exotic Midwest destinations such as Hayward, Wis., or Brainerd, Minn., for great angling.

My friend A.J. says he rarely allows his brain to throttle down and rest for at least eight hours overnight.

He emphatically states he's always doing mental calculations, and these equations and the like are connected to some project he's doing in his home or outside his abode.

I, on the other hand, dream quite a bit about past fishing trips when the action was hot and heavy. It's good to set the hook again.

I recently had lunch with outdoor travel guru Paul Melchior of Angling Escapes (847-272-3195), and the table conversation eventually got around to fishing tournaments.

I admit I have not always been enthusiastic about the goings-on at a B.A.S.S. or FLW bass tournament for a variety of reasons. I will not go into those reasons in this column now.

"I think it would be fantastic if the bass pros would participate in a contest using nothing but old rods and reels from the 1950s or earlier," Melchior said.

I agreed it would be a great contest, especially if there was inclusion of early motors and small, either flat-bottom or 14-foot aluminum v-shaped hulls with 9.9-hp outboards.

One of the rules would state anglers may not use modern-day sonar or scanning units but would be limited to the old-style flashers, just so they could determine drop-offs and weeds.

There would be two categories for entrants.

One would be for live bait use, while the other class would be strictly artificial. And each boat would carry a non-angling observer on board. I am not suggesting anyone would bend the rules or cheat. Human beings are just that, humans, living their lives according to their own bag of ethics.

I'm throwing in possibilities whereby if an angler enters as an artificial fisherman but later starts using night crawlers and minnows. That scenario cannot happen if an observer rides along.

Melchior often competes at various casting contests at the Lincoln Park casting pools in Chicago. Some of the participants use very old casting reels that they've fine-tuned to the point where super long-distance casts can be made.

Some of those people even bring specially made boxes to hold vials of oils with different viscosities to lubricate the reels.

With all that said, Melchior and I have been mulling the idea of having one of those old-gear tournaments in this area. We would hope to get sponsors, and the entrance fees would go to a specific charity.

But the first test of real, old-time angling would come at some B.A.S.S. gathering with someone like Kevin VanDam trying his best to cast an old Hawaiian Wiggler or Crazy Crawler 50 feet to a partially submerged log where a bass could be hiding.

Kevin also would use an old Montague bamboo casting rod saddled with an ancient Shakespeare, Model 1921 Light Wondereel. This baby is made for long casts without any backlashes -- no thumbing as well. At least that's the stuff that is printed on the box.

Skeet Reese would be held to using a plastic worm called the DeLong K'ler (killer). No modern-day wackies or Little Action Macs, let alone plastics used for drop-shotting. No Alabama Rigs or Sliders, nor Skokie Lagoonies.

Denny Brauer would have to use a Heddon Pal, fiberglass stick with a South Bend Anti-Backlash model 550 casting reel.

Some of the more learned guys could use a No. 8 hook, a fat night crawler, and 4-pound mono on a spin-cast rig. That's real daring stuff, especially when most of the time the pros use 30-pound mono or braid.

B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott had a rod and reel designed for him so he could try to encourage other pros to use light gear and 4-pound test mono.

It didn't go over very well.

So, in closing, I am challenging B.A.S.S. and the FLW bass guys and gals to do what I suggested.

Put the fishing back into fishing tournaments, instead of having NSA-type electronic snooping and underwater spying just so the contestants can cash a big check.

•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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