Fishing in Michigan
My Dad took me fishing for the first time when I was 5. I thought the sunfish he helped me reel in was the most beautiful fish in the world. Over the next 45 years I've seen, caught, and eaten many other fish, but I still have a soft spot for panfish.
I spent every spring and summer from the age of 7 to 11 behind my Grandpa's house with a pole and a container of worms I dug out of the garden. Sometimes I fished with my sister and cousins; at other times the neighbors joined me. I counted on my cousins and neighbors to take the fish off the hook then, but I put the worms on the hook myself.
All we needed was a pole, a line, a worm, and a hook. We brought in a meal every day. It was a cheap, fun, easy sport that anyone could take part in. Then I grew up.
Now, unless you live on a lake, you can't fish from the bank in many places. Lake associations formed to prevent people who don't own property on the waterways from fishing on them. State parks allow some access--for a fee. And many people don't believe you can catch fish without a boat.
You can buy a boat, motor, trolling motor, and trailer, expensive rods and reels designed for the type of fish you want to catch, baits of all different sizes and shapes, fish finders, life preservers, anchors, batteries, lights, oars, fire extinguishers, and all the other necessary equipment. After paying to launch your boat, you spend the day trolling around catching. . .nothing.
So you research. Walleye are biting in the springtime in Michigan. Fish for them when the lilacs are in full bloom. When the wind is from the west, the fishing is best. Don't go after a storm, as the water is too murky. Right before a storm is good. At this time, the fish are in shallow water, but at that time they're in deeper water. So you watch for the weather to be right, the time to be right, and the conditions to be right.
But then it's too windy, or too hot, or too cold. The motor quits on the way out, you run out of gas just when the fish start to bite, or the catfish grab your bait before the walleye can. And that boat just to the left of you is pulling in 24 inch walleye, one after the other.
Oh, well, you like panfish just as well. You'll settle for the crappie and the bluegill. But they're not biting that day, either--at least not on your hook. You'd call it a day and try again tomorrow, but the price of gas just went up for the third time that week, and you don't know if you want to pay it.
What happened to the child who slid the worm on the hook as soon as she slid out of bed in the morning and spent all day on the bank patiently waiting for a fish, any fish, to come along and take the bait? She didn't wait for the right weather, the right wind direction, the right conditions, equipment, and circumstances. She didn't ask how the others were doing or what they were getting or what they were getting them on. She just slid her worm on her hook and fished for the sheer joy of fishing.
So why am I sitting here today, with the lilacs in full bloom, wishing the wind would let up, the temperature was warmer, and that the wind was directly from the west instead of from the northwest?
I'm not! I'm putting on my winter coat, getting out my worms and pole, and I'm going fishing!
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