Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

Taking the Good With the Pads

Fish'n, Outdoors, Friends

Pardon me while I make a brief commercial announcement -

I am now up to 42 readers.

At a Common Council meeting last month this guy introduced himself and told me how much he liked to see posts about hunting and fishing and the great outdoors.  

This was number 39.

Later that week one of the Aldermanic candidates mentioned that he enjoyed reading my musings (although he was probably not pleased with my prediction).

Sorry about that number 40.

Since then - two more readers have come out of the closet.

So getting back to the important subject of fishing - how many of you have ever observed a musky fisherman at work?

Slowly working a shoreline with a trolling motor all the time casting an artificial lure and ending each retrieve with the obligatory figure-eight movement of the bait. 

And doing it again.  And again.  And over again.

Always hopeful for the strike and the landing of a once in a lifetime trophy fish.

One word comes to mind.


My fishing buddy caught a musky once - quite by accident.

We were crappie fishing. 

When fishing crappie the tackle of choice is a light-action rig equipped with four pound test line. For reasons I'll get to I prefer a slip bobber and either a colored jig or hook tipped with a minnow. 

About eight years ago we were fishing an outlet on the Three Lakes Chain and something violently took the First Mate's bait and ran with it.  With the drag screaming he yells - Fish on!  It's a big mutha too.  You better get the net!

Struggling with a rod nearly bent-over double he works the fish.  Meanwhile I'm frantically trying to get a couple of lines in and stay out of his way as he stumbles about the deck.  The fish is having a good time of it too - having its way with him and making a couple of complete circles around the boat.

As per usual I'm rendering all sorts of unsolicited and generally useless advice.

Don't horse the fish!  Keep the drag on.  Hold your rod up.  Don't get tangled in the motor.  Hurry, get the fish over to the side of the boat and I'll net it.  Take your time - don't rush.  Don't bust the line.  Dammit!  Watch-out for my cigar!  

Eventually we boat the fish.  It's a dark-stained musky with a big ugly gash on its face.  And it's perfectly legal in the size department.

The First Mate (who now has a bad case of the shakes) mumbles - Look at that thing.  It's hooked right in the corner of the mouth.  Can you believe it?

Eventually he regains enough of his composure to have some pictures taken with his catch - after which we return the monster to the lake -  gently moving it forward and back to circulate water through the gills.

With a flip of the tail it swims-off.

This is no fish tale.  It was an amazing feat.

And it's the truth.

Since I lack the patience of a real musky fisherman I can only hope that sometime in my life I'll score a lucky break like that too.

When crappie fishing the First Mate and I prefer to keep our fishing experience interesting by seeking our quarry in their preferred habitat.

The polite term for this is locating and fishing the structure

In lay person's terms this would mean fishing the crap

We like sunken logs - especially if they're tangles of stacked logs scattered across the bottom.  Sunken stumps are good too.  And no simple emergent coon tail or pencil reeds for us.  Oh no.  We want lily pads.  Preferably lots of them.

All of this amounts to ample opportunity to damage your prop, tangle an anchor and lose vast amounts of tackle in all of that junk.

We've both gotten quite adept at casting a slip bobber so as to drop that bait directly where we want it.  But we're not so good so as to get it right all the time.  Our answer to dealing with snagged lines is to never leave home without at least a dozen rods in the boat.  Minimum.

A Cabelas MasterCard is useful too.

It's a good thing that only the Captain and the First Mate crew my craft as the language can sometimes take a salty turn.  Did you know that it is easier to land a 38-inch musky with a crappie rig than it is to dislodge a hook from a lily pad?

Trust me.  It cannot be done.  The pads always win. 

Nonetheless, if you make the effort the pay-off can be fish. 

Lots of them too.

Like these slab crappies...

The First Mate has a way of waxing philosophical when I am cursing under my breath while installing the spare prop on the motor's shaft after a day of fishing.

You know Tom - sometimes you have to take the good with the pads.

He's right.

Tight lines!

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