My wife is giving me no sympathy at all.
It's really difficult not to think about fishing at this time of year. Especially when it is one of my most favorite outdoor pastimes.
I know there is still two to three feet of snow in the woods in the northern reaches of Minnesota and the ice on the lakes in the Ely area is still about a couple feet thick, but it's spring. At least the calendar in my office says it is. And just the word "spring" says fishing to my brain.
All winter I have been walking past my three tackle boxes in the garage and mournfully sighing, knowing that favorite lures are lying in separate compartments appealing to me to free them from their captivity and allow them to tempt a gilled creature to their glistening forms. I can almost hear them pleading from inside their entombment - "pick me, pick me."
Oh yes, I get an occasional fishing fix each winter when I auger through some hard water and drop a baited line into the dark depths. But it's not the same. It just doesn't compare to bobbing in a boat, a wisp of a breeze in your face and the sun lighting up the water and shoreline as you troll a weed line or anchor off a favorite point that regularly holds fish. It's not the same thrill of trying to land a monster pike on 6-pound test line that you are trying to spool onto a reel that has mysteriously developed a bird's nest that could house a family of eagles. It isn't the same emotional feeling you get when you bring that 9-pound walleye next to the boat only to have it thrash, break your line and dive deep, leaving you with a whimper in your throat and tears in your eyes - that you immediately declare to your fishing buddies is a hay-fever condition and that the pollen count must be astronomical.
It was 65 degrees one day recently. There should be a law in Minnesota that when the temperature is 65 degrees or warmer on any day of any month, the fishing season is open. It would be a good law. I could find votes for this.
But alas, it will be at least six more weeks before we can officially "bait-up" in Minnesota. May 9 is opening day for the 2009 season. And since I know my proposed new fishing law will never get a hearing at the capitol, I guess I'm going to have to wait a few more weeks.
This year's Minnesota Governor's Fishing Opener is being hosted by White Bear Lake - the first metro area to host this prestigious event in its 61-year history. Media from all over the country will be on hand to experience fishing on the edge of a metropolis.
I'll use the time to plan a new fishing strategy for this summer. I'll get out the mountain of lake maps I have accumulated over the years and review some of the hot spots I marked on them. Unfortunately, I marked some of them with a "wipe-off" magic marker so I'm going to have to guess if the marks on a few of the maps indicate a fishing hole or a ketchup smear. No problem - if the mark tastes like ketchup, I'll know.
And of course, I could always use this down time to spool new line onto the 14 or so reels I own. Past experience has taught me that new line each year helps me better untangle the bird's nests I have a habit of creating on my reels. I won't oil my reels, though. Experience has taught me that this process is very expensive, mainly because after I open up my reels to inject a new film of oil on the ball-bearings and other moving parts, I usually loose a part or two, which seems to affect the operation of the device.
So I need to purchase a new reel, which has become increasingly difficult to justify to my wife, who - for no understandable reason - questions why I need a new reel when I have a dozen or more in the garage. Geeeez! She just doesn't understand. And I am wise enough to know that I shouldn't bring up her 20 pairs of shoes in her closet at a time like this.
Oh well, life is tough all over.
Fear not faithful anglers. Minnesota's fishing season will soon be here, and all of us who have exercised patience throughout the winter will be rewarded. And if the urge for open-water fishing becomes too unbearable, just pull the cover off your boat in the backyard, hop in and dream.
Myself, I think I will open all of my tackle boxes in the garage, position them evenly around my feet and just sit on a pail and reacquaint myself with my faithful lures.
C.J. JOHNSON is an outdoor communications specialist with Explore Minnesota Tourism.
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