Sunday, June 10, 2012

Fishing, Technology, and Uncle Lester

Have you noticed lately how high tech has invaded the world of fishing? Is my bias showing? As I have paddled through stretches of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa I have seen lots of “gear” on fishing boats that helps anglers find and catch fish.

There is some good news to report, however, as I hear of lots of “catch and release” fishing. Perhaps I am “old school” but I thought fishing was about learning where the “holes" were by years of studying their habits, trial and error on the water, and fish tales from old-timers. Satellites that can follow my movements from space scare me and give me some compassion for my brothers and sisters underwater trying to elude “fish-finders” from above. One of my dad’s 10 sibs was Lester. Uncle Les was the family fish guru.

Picture a round, rosey-cheeked, white haired man with a straw hat and bib overalls. Lester was a rural mail-carrier primarily so he could fish after delivering the mail. Two of his sons became college professors, so he was a smart fellow. But his “applied” study was the life and habits of fish within 50 miles of Decorah, Iowa. As I paddled through that stretch of water recently, the spirit of Uncle Lester and I communed. Really!

He knew where the crappies, walleye, and striped bass all lived because he spent time on the Mississippi. The river and its creatures had been his teachers. I took my son, Erik, to visit Decorah one summer to meet Uncle Les. I knew this master fisherman would deliver the goods where his father had generally failed. So off we went to the river. He asked, “Erik, what do you want to catch?” Erik said,  “Anything!”
So off we went to one “hole" after another and in every case caught a lot of fish. Erik was amazed. But I wasn’t because I knew that my uncle was a real fisherman who did it the “old-fashioned” way... 

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