The downrigger wires were singing against the force of the water as we trolled along.
Jon's rod was bent over in the tell-tale arch that downriggers create. Suddenly his rod jumped to attention, and then back down again in a bouncing hop. Fish on! After a nice, fierce battle, with several screaming runs, he boated a 12-pound mackinaw.
The enjoyment of fishing goes beyond just the catching of fish itself. I also look forward to the scenery, the slow rock of the waves against the boat, and the fishing rod I've selected to use.
I stick with several favorites. They look the part I'm having them play, and feel good in my hand. Each fish I catch with them is another notch in the grip, and another memory with that particular rod.
One pole I still use is a Shimano ultra-light given to me by a friend who came out to fish and purchased it to use while we went out on some excursions. Before he left to fly back home, he gave it to me.
Needless to say, I treasure that rod and have caught a lot of trout with it. I've even hung into a couple of tiger muskies while fishing jigs with it in Pineview. That makes for quite the accomplishment to land a big fish on light tackle.
I also have a 40-year-old Fenwick Lunker Stik that I bought in the late '60s when I was a teenager, living in the south, for bass fishing. I've caught hundreds of largemouth bass with that pole, easily. In fact, I still have the original reel I bought for it, a Daiwa Millionaire V. But the gears have long since gone on it, although I still keep it as a souvenir. Foolish, perhaps. But I'm really attached to both.
Just recently, two guides on that rod broke into a crescent moon shape, as I supposed the old metal is just weakening with age. But again, I wasn't about to part with it, or retire it to rod-rack status. The old cork-handled rod would see another day, regardless of what I had to do to restore it.
So, I took it in to a local fishing shop, and made plans to have all the guides removed and replaced with new ceramic guides. That should add a lot of years to its life.
I didn't use it much when I first came to Utah, but now I do. I've done everything from smallmouth bass fishing to vertical jigging for lake trout with that 5 A!A1/2 foot, medium-action rod. I even hook it up to my downrigger once in a while when deep-water fishing. It's worked great since it was broken in to western fishing.
I took it on one trip shortly after arriving in Utah, trolling with SpiderWire for trout on Strawberry. My fishing companion for the day really tore up the cutthroats, but I could barely muster a bump or two the entire day.
Cam told me that I still had it in bass fishing mode, and that it needed to be introduced to trout in a sort of baptismal ritual. He took one of his fish and slimed up my rod really good, and it's been a hot stick ever since. Not that I believe in that kind of thing, but it really works!
The part that is kind of difficult to justify is that these guide replacements cost more than the rod did originally. I saved up my small amounts of cash for a long time before being able to afford the purchase, and have loved that rod ever since.
The folks at the fishing shop looked at me like I should just go invest in a new rod, but that was never an option for me. I wanted my old Fenwick back in fishing condition, and that's exactly what I've had done. After all, I may want to leave that old pole to a grandson who could appreciate it and use it the way I have. The countless numbers of fish that it would catch would make for one experienced fishing pole.
But I'm willing to bet that many others have similar equipment they value for some of the same reasons. I'll have a stack of "stuff" to leave behind when my fishing days are done, and I don't want them given out at some yard sale, or hauled off to the dump because no one knows the intrinsic value of the items. So I'll likely give them away to family members who may cherish them as much as I do.
Just like a favorite fishing hat or vest, particular lures that always work for us, or a rod and reel that fits just right in our hands, I find it hard to depart with such gear regardless of how old it gets.
I'm getting older too, and I hope no one throws me out before my time is up. The same goes for that old Fenwick. Long live the Lunker Stik!
Brad Kerr is an avid angler who can be reached at email@example.com.