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Outdoor Life - Outdoor life is a column by Mick Bohonis.
2013-01-18 at NOON

Whale of a tale

It doesn’t matter whether it’s summer or winter, the old saying goes “you can always tell when a fisherman is lying, simply because his lips are moving.” 

As far back as man started to angle, whether it be off shore, in a boat or through the ice, fish tales of all sorts and sizes began relating to the size of the fish, the fight the fish put up and how long it took to reel it in. To this day it still remains the same as it did 50 years ago. Anglers still stretch the truth and try to get every ounce and inch they can on the fish they catch.

However, today's technology makes the storytelling about that big fish a little more difficult with the equipment that is offered to anglers in the way of digital read-out scales and measuring devices that now stick right to the side of your boat or devices that can weigh your fish as soon as it comes out of that ice fishing hole.  What would have been a six-pounder now is a four-pounder.

What about lures? If you take the time to open up a Bass Pro Shops or a Cabela's catalog there will be literally half the book dedicated just to lures. Everything that you could possibly offer a fish on the end of your line will be in these pages and it almost makes it difficult for the average angler to choose what he thinks may give him the upper edge.

Lures that float, are impregnated with scent, sink, suspend, dive, wobble, rattle, change colour, glow and side-wind are now offered. What happened to the straight hook and minnow, or the old faithful “Little Joe” spinner?

Fishing for walleyes as a kid, all we used were maribou jigs and worms or small minnows and we filled the boat or had many fish laying on the ice during the hard water angling season. Simplicity was good, and although modern technology has made us safer, I believe it has made us lazier as well.

In the winter, Little Butler Lake (one of my favourite speckled trout lakes), Agimak Lake, Indian Lake, Raliegh Lake, Sowden Lake and many others that we fished around the town of Ignace were the hot spots when I was growing up and it was all accomplished with simple easy-to-use gear.

Red willow branches were our rods and whatever mono line was available at the time was used.

There were no high-tech flashers or portable pop-up shelters. Nope, we endured the elements and that was it.

Today’s recreational and tournament fishing has exploded into a multi-million dollar industry that keeps getting bigger.

It doesn’t matter if it’s summer or winter there have been leaps and bounds made in both. There is now the professional tarpon circuit, the professional walleye tour, the professional redfish circuit, the bass masters and many others. It’s crazy the amount of money and prizes put up and how many people try to make a living at this throughout North America.

Just take a look on TV whether it be satellite or cable and see for yourself how many fishing shows there are and then take a look at the amount of corporate advertising that coincides with these shows.

It’s big bucks and some of the manufacturers hold nothing back when it comes to making sure their product is out there.

I myself am caught right in the middle of all the hype as I too have boats, quads and snow machines outfitted with everything and a tackle box that requires a forklift to move.

It’s addicting and the simple fact that tackle does not cost a lot in comparison to boats, motors and snowmobiles can easily allow a guy to sneak in a few new lures every week without breaking the bank or ruffling his other half’s feathers!

So why do anglers have to have two boats, a snowmobile, ATV, 12 rods, four different tackle boxes, four stringers, three minnow pails, eight life jackets and five pairs of polarized sunglasses just for fishing?

The cost of going fishing has also risen tenfold in the last 15 years, and that is evident when venturing out to your favourite lake. By the time it’s said and done it’s a $150 day. Eight dozen medium minnows is now $40. Then one has to stop at the gasoline kiosk where they have a loans officer to take your application in order to fill your truck and snowmobile. My truck holds 140 litres and at $1.36 a litre it’s well, you get it.

Divided by the eight to 12 fish you get and it comes to a mere $25 a fish. Nuts you say? Yes maybe, but in comparison, what about the guy who spends  $5,000 on a golf membership chasing a little white ball around for five months? Or $45,000 on a custom Harley-Davidson. Where do we draw the line? 

When it comes to leisure, sports and entertainment, it’s all relative to your own passions, interests and bank account. We all work hard for our disposable income and time away from work is to enjoy ourselves in whatever manner we prefer. 

Living in this part of the country, one would think fishing is just a part of life for many folks and if the amount of boats or snowmobiles sitting on trailers in people’s driveways is any indication, it's close to it. If I had back the amount of money I have spent on hunting and fishing in the last 20 years, I could probably pay cash for a new house. However, it’s something that I just have to do and will continue to do no matter what the cost.

To all you anglers out there who think you spend too much money on your passion, I have news for you – you probably do.


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