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97_98_articles/Tribune9.TXT

Fishing has to be one of the greatest sports ever created.

Surprised at that statement? Fishermen arenít. Oh, and neither are fisherwomen. But many basketball, football, hockey, baseball, and tennis fans are still reading that first line over to themselves in disbelief. And why donít some people like fishing? I think I have an explanation.

Take a look at one of the five sports listed above. Any of them, except tennis, have a high adrenaline level. The stadiums are lit up to the tunes of YMCA and...yecchh...Hanson, there are crowds chanting a playerís name, popcorn and cotton candy vendors walking around, and the audience is really excited to watch them play.

Now take a look at fishing. Youíre sitting either in solitude or with one or two other people, listening to the crickets chirp, and watching a bobber that hasnít moved in the last twenty minutes. What about music? Well, you can always have a little radio out there with you, and if youíre lucky, you can bring a tape of YMCA out with you (donít pack Hanson along) . The audience is pretty much nonexistent except for possibly the friend or two that youíre fishing with.

So thereís a big difference between fishing and all those other sports, right? Not really. The only big difference with fishing is that it's just a little harder to get into the whole spirit of things. Once you learn how to fish, though, you just might not want to go back to those other sports.

Most people start their fishing experience at the bait and tackle shop. They'll be in there all pumped up to do some serious bait and lure buying. They'll know their sinkers from their spinners, their lunkers from their polliwogs! Of course, most of these buyers won't be on the lookout for inexperienced clerks! I've heard someone who walked into a local shop before and asked for 12 suckers. Any self-respecting fisherman...I mean, fisherperson...would know the guy asked for live bait. But, as this person was ready to walk back with the cashier to the tanks where they kept the bait, the cashier instead stood behind the counter and started counting out twelve suckers. Orange, grape, cherry, and so on. The person asked her what she was doing, and she said, "Picking out your twelve suckers! Would you like another grape?" I guess they had a good laugh before she went back to get him the bait. There are so many things about fishing that appeal to so many different types of people, it's hard to know where to begin. For those people who don't like hooking on the bait, there's the lovely scenery around the lake for them to look at while someone else does the baiting. There are the huge, climbing trees that surround a lake to the wide open expanses of water on the river or by the ocean. There's plenty of wildlife out there, too, including huge geese that you won't get a chance to see during hunting season, and small things such as little frogs, salamanders, and little kids fishing with their dads.

That's another one of the great things about fishing; spending time with your family and friends. In any other sport, if you're playing with a friend or family member, you're probably either isolated from them on the field or are playing against them during the game. In fishing, you're all on the same team playing against the fish. But even then it's not in such a hating fashion as it is in football or even basketball.

Some naysayers also say that catching a fish is mostly luck, and not much skill is involved. I'm guessing these people have never caught a fish themselves. There really is technique to catching a fish. Grabbing hold of the line and reeling like a mad man that's had way too much caffeine is one strategy used a lot, but it usually doesn't work. You've gotta learn how to let fish know they should keep biting on to the bait and make sure they're hooked by using the right combination of reeling it in and letting the string out. Almost like being a salesman, but without getting rejected nearly as much.

In most sports, once the game is done, the experience is done. Sure, at the Stanley Cup or the NBA Finals there may be a bunch of cheering and sometimes people storming the field, but after a little celebration it's over and the only real fun is finally getting out of the crowded parking lot. In fishing, once you're done for the day, the fun has just started. If it's getting late, you'll probably want to make up a campfire and roast up the day's catch. Of course, as a little insurance in the odd case that you don't catch anything, always remember to pack along the beany-weenies. Not that I'm saying you'll be skunked!

Once you leave and get home, check for ticks. Also, fillet, don't scale, the fish. Filleting is usually much, much easier. Remember to pack up the tackle and put it somewhere where you'll remember where you placed it, too! There's nothing worse than not being able to find the tackle box when you're ready to leave on another trip.

Now that you know how great fishing is, next time a bunch of your friends or family want to go out and do something fun, pass on the football and take a breather from the basketball, and instead go out and have some fishing fun!




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