Peculiarly American, anglers today often are equipment-obsessed. Some of this is natural: Good gear and its proper use can make outings more comfortable and perhaps more productive.
But worry too much about not leaving home until you own the latest boat or gadgets, and time can be lost watching TV or even mowing the lawn that could better be spent casting for ...
Anything with fins.
I thought about this Sunday as my son Cole and I launched our vintage john boat, a 1970s-era Montgomery Ward Sea King 14-footer primarily used for duck hunting.
This was on a favorite muskie lake of ours about an hour's drive from the Twin Cities. Our bigger fishing boat was in the shop, and we could have sat at home and moped.
But we had planned to spend the day casting for muskies, and we were going to do just that, fancy boat or not.
Our chosen launch site was busy, as one would guess it would be on such a peerless summer day. But we saw no one else dump a camouflage double-ender into the water that they paid $200 for in 1982. Casting us in a weirder patina still, amidships in our little craft was a polycarbonate Just Encase musky lure case holding baits worth several times what the boat itself was worth.
But there you had it: Cole poised at the tiller as if auditioning for "Swamp People," and me, knees to my chin, squatting in the bow, looking every bit the middle manager downsized by a Gen X'er.
"Notice how people look at us like they feel sorry for us?" Cole said.
"Better that they feel sorry for the muskies," I said. "Hit it."
In truth, were we to tie into a big fish, I wasn't sure what would happen. Already the boat was filled with baits, a jumbo muskie net, a trolling motor battery, a gas can, a lunch cooler -- and us.
But not knowing what might occur was the attraction and ultimately why we were on the water and not at home online.
Sharing the lake with us were a half-dozen wakeboard boats and a fleet of pleasure pontoons, their skippers uniformly bent at the elbow, knocking back longnecks.
Fun ways to spend the day, each and all. But we had come to fish.
At sunset, when Ol' Flat Bottom was pulled onto its $125 trailer, we had two follows to our credit, one of which was a real monster.
A great day.
Dennis Anderson • firstname.lastname@example.org