Outdoors with Forda Birds—By John Andreoni
The first day of March was always a sign that spring was just around the corner. Of course, that meant I started focusing on spring fishing, something I’ve done for over 70 years. Today, I have enough modern fishing gear to serve my purpose but nothing like those who live and die the sport. It wasn’t always like that, however. When I first started chasing fish, it was pretty simple. Cane poles were available at the local hardware stores. A ten-foot crappie pole cost a dime, and a 20-foot bass pole was double that. A spool of braided line cost a half-dollar, but you seldom changed line in those days. Cork bobbers were purchased from the drug store, and a quick slice with a razor blade made them usable. If I wanted to get fancy, a little model airplane paint made them easier to see. Hooks came in a can for .25 cents, and a pack of split shot sinkers cost a dime. Snelled hooks were added for crappie fishing, but other than that, the braided line covered everything else.
Some of the fondest fishing memories I have as a kid was getting into our 1937 Plymouth with my dad and mom and heading to the lake to fish. Cane poles were tied to the door handles of the car with pieces of rags, and I didn’t get out until we arrived at our fishing spot. My dad stopped at the local bait shop and bought one or two dozen minnows. If we were fishing for catfish, I always had a supply of nightcrawlers hiding someplace, and liver was always available from the butcher shop. Chicken guts could be salvaged from the butcher pretty much on demand, but my mother drew the line on that.
When I was 10, I bought a rod and reel from a buddy for $3.00. His dad won it on a tip book and neither of them fished. It was the first mechanical fishing device in our family, and I still remember that my father wasn’t particularly happy about the purchase. I used that rod and reel until I was 16 and finally beat it to death. The reel is long gone, but the rod is still around hanging in my barn. When I turned sixteen, I bought my first fishing license. I think the price doubled that year and I had to drop $2.00 for the right to catch a fish or two. By then, my interests had changed, and I no longer fished the 200 days a year I normally fished when I was younger.
How things have changed! Today, I have a fishing boat, nothing special but it serves the purpose. When I go crappie fishing, I usually carry five rods and more artificial baits than I’ll ever use. Catfishing calls for a total change of equipment and the same applies to bass fishing. It might seem like I’m overloaded with equipment, but compared to those who are serious fishermen, it’s nothing. For example, it isn’t hard for a fishermen to sink $100,000 dollars in a bass boat and a truck to pull it. There are entry level fishing boats and top-of-the-line models for the “wanna-be” professional. It’s not uncommon to see thousands of dollars of rods and reels strapped to these go-fast boats that also contain enough electronics to steer you to a single stump in the middle of a 13,000 acre lake and let you look under the water in all directions. Today’s fishing technology is phenomenal and available to just about everyone, assuming you have a decent credit score…or not.
Regardless, I’m slowly getting ready for the fishing season. My fishing license needs to be renewed for 2019, something I always put off until the last minute. Again this year, instead of going to the local bait shop, I went on-line to take care of that detail. To my surprise, I found some significant changes. First, instead of a fishing license expiring at the end of February, the new ones are good for 365 days from the date of purchase. I’m not sure what I think of that idea, but it does make the fisherman responsible for knowing when his license expires. Another wrinkle is the multiple-year license. You can now buy a one-year, three-year, five-year, ten-year, and lifetime tag. Depending on your age, you can save a little money. For example, a resident youth lifetime license is $430 dollars and change. If you live to 39, you fish the rest of your life for free. A senior lifetime resident license is $84.24 cents. At my age, that’s a gamble. On the other hand, having a life-time fishing license might keep me alive longer just to beat the odds.
Anyhow, spring fishing is just around the corner. I’ve enjoyed the sport for my entire life and don’t expect that to change. It’s a given that I’m not alone.