This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

March 11th, 2002

Go Fish!

I've 'officially' welcomed Spring, that having to do with the arrival of our first Hummingbird. The fact we got 4 inches of snow within a few hours of that doesn't count. It's gone. Like my dad used to say, "The sun's too far over the yardarm to have the snow last." One of our readers was concerned we might have a 'hummersickle', but the hummer is fine, he makes several stops at our feeder a day. We named him Fred; we always name the first one of the year Fred.

March Snow

My Spring memories include something very special to me. I wasn't very old, first grade I think, and once the sun warmed the shallows of Lake Michigan the perch were hanging around the big break-wall at Ludington, Michigan. The break-wall protected the harbor where the car ferries docked. Best of all it was a glorious place for a kid with a straw hat (isn't it funny the things we remember?) sitting on the break-wall between my parents fishing with a bait casting rod. Minnows were the bait, kept in a minnow bucket of course.

That is my first memory of fishing. As the years went by I fished the summers with my grandfather around the Rogers City, Michigan area. Eventually at age 11 gramps taught me how to fly fish. But at that time I did not own a fly rod, and when I fished with my folks on Saginaw Bay (Lake Huron) it was with a spinning rod. Zebco as I recall. The only time I can remember fly fishing with my dad, who was a fly fisher, was back on Lake Michigan. He wasn't fly fishing on this trip. I was the only person on his boat who was. It was doing something in a different way for sure. We were fishing out of Frankfort, Michigan for the first returning Coho salmon which had been planted a couple of years earlier.

The wisdom of the experts was that salmon (any salmon other than Atlantics) would not take a fly or a lure and the only way they could be 'caught' was by snagging. Regardless, there were plenty of folks willing to troll the depths with whatever to try and catch them. Coho Fever.

I had read about fishing for Atlantics and wanted to try using a fly. Dad humored me; we ran the fly line through a down-rigger set-up and while the rest of the folks on the boat threw Lure Jensen lures or trolled them on down riggers, I stuck with my blue and white polar bear streamer. I caught several very nice Coho that day. The only salmon taken on the boat.

I've also fished for catfish, bluegills, bass, sturgeon, walleye, marlin, tarpon, dorado, jack cravelle, bonefish, trout and salmon of course too. A wonderful lifetime of fishing. It hasn't all been fly fishing, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

My daughters all have been at least exposed to fishing and fly fishing. Where they go with it is up to them, but they know it exists.

How about your kids? How about the grandchildren?

There has been a lot of improvements on what is available for kids to fish. The idea of 'Snoopy rods' was/is great. South Bend has some very neat outfits just for kids. Spin and Spincast combos, some one-piece, some two-piece easy for kids to use. One called Character Combos has the spincast rod, reel, a dial drag so kids can learn how to fight fish. Each outfit includes a practice casting plug and a fold-out lawn target with easy-to-understand instructions. Some of their combo's even have a tackle box with tackle. And the best part, these kits include tips and instructions for moms and dads who also might be first time anglers!

Hurrah for South Bend! They are not sponsors here - but I personally think it is so important to get the kids out fishing, I'm willing to put in a plug for them here. Just get the kids (and it wouldn't hurt to get the parents out too) fishing. It doesn't have to be fly fishing, and frankly when a kid starts pestering you to learn to fly fish they may not have the coordination or attention span to learn yet. Just get them fishing!

What will their memories be? Computer games? Rap music? Any appreciation for the outdoor world at all? And what will they value? Our world has changed a lot since I started fishing. But I can recall every fishing experience I ever had, with love and joy.

Fishing is the ground of my being.

Got kids? GO FISH! ~ LadyFisher

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