The recent news that Minnesota fishing license sales are down 20% is disturbing. I'm concerned that the perceived cost of going fishing is a barrier. It needn't be. Pictured above is an image of me on one of my first angling adventures. The sum total of my fishing gear then was a five-foot cane pole, a length of plain old string, a sinker that I clamped on with my teeth, a hook and a cork bobber. For bait, I crawled around on my hands and knees after dark on dew-wet grass with a flash light and a coffee can filled with dirt. The nightcrawlers were free.
Marketers in this country are great at building simple recreational sports into multi-billion dollar industries. Witness bike riding. Gone are the old Schwinn bikes with the one-speed transmissions. Today the "on your left" crowd would be embarrassed to be seen on anything but a 20-speed Italian bike made from carbon fiber and sporting a price tag of $1,500 to over $8,000. Then there's the must-have Lance-look-alike Lycra outfits, the wind-streaming helmets, the eye-glass mounted rear-view mirrors, and so on ad nauseam.
Another simple kid activity -- sliding down a snow-covered hill -- has become a sink hole for some rather adult sums of money for the apres ski aficionados. "Aren't those Lange Super Banshee ski boots featuring the World Cup shell you're wearing?"
Biking, skiing and fishing are not fashion shows. They are simple recreational activities. If you've got the bucks go ahead and pop for the St. Croix Legend Tournament graphite rod and match it with a Fin-Nor Santiago reel. Load it up with some Sufix 832 Advanced Superline. And don't forget your lighted, odor-emitting lures before you crank up the 200 horsepower Honda on your Super Ranger outfitted with twin fish finders.
If you're not exactly loaded with expendable income in the current economy, grab any old fishing pole and a can of worms and go find a dock. Take a close look at the picture. Do you really think I was having any less fun than today's deep pockets anglers? Oh, and on capturing those nightcrawlers, if you pull 'em slow and steady they'll eventually come out of their holes in one piece.