Riege: Reflections and Resolutions for the New Year

Published 6:42 pm Wednesday, December 26, 2012

By Bob and Ginny Riege

Winter has finally come to all of us in the Midwest. It is a slower time of the year than the spring, summer or fall. It is a time of the year to reflect and to offer some resolutions for the upcoming fishing season. Sometimes at this time of year I catch myself day dreaming about events and memories of last fishing season.

Maybe a resolution for all of us is to take care or our wildlife during these cold months. -- Photo Provided

I close my eyes, and memories of last spring and summer fill my head like swirling snowflakes. Memories of cool nights spent prowling the riprap near the dam, listening to the restless chatter of southbound flocks of ducks resting on the river and the telltale splash of spawning crappies close against the shore. Memories of humid summer days that seem to hang like the drooping willow tree branches. I smile as I remember the large walleye that my Ginny caught while fishing at Slippery Winds Wilderness Lodge.

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I open my eyes, and the memories scatter like the autumn leaves blown away by the north wind. I also remember the lost 48-inch plus; Northern Pike that was lost because I didn’t keep my rod tip up and gave her some slack. That brings me back to reality in a hurry and reminds me that one resolution I have is to practice what I preach and that is to allow the rod and reel to do the work and not allow slack in my line.

Winter is necessary. Winter is the earth’s opportunity to lie fallow, to regroup, to prepare for a new season of birth and growth we call spring. Even the river, whose gray, cold expanse gives the appearance of lifelessness, is awaiting the transformation that will come with rising temperatures, a rise just as certain as the crawl of the sun across the sky.

Another resolution this year is to spend more quality time with my family. Sure we all say we will, but I think, we give this lip service and put it off for another day.

This resolution makes it evident that scores of people want to spend more and more time outdoors with people they know and love. They have resolved to become better stewards of the land, better teachers of environmental concerns, and scribes of knowledge to ones who are novices in outdoor pursuits.

The resolution is the beginning, but where do you go from there? Maybe gather friends together to make fishing or hunting plan or maybe you should gather the information at some sportshows. That is right, sportshows are coming in the month of January and you might want to start planning on fulfilling your New Years resolution starting now.

Of course I’m tired of winter. I am tired of watching fishing on TV and I ache to get out on the open water. The city is dull and dreary in the cold. As I watch the weather forecast of the upcoming storm, I reach for my file and start on the task of touching up those neglected hooks. It seems that the winter has just one color gray brown a depressing sight.

My next resolution is to do more exercise. As we all grow a little older we need to get up from the table sooner and switch off the TV and get out and enjoy some outside activities. I know that the fish are getting ready for the upcoming season so should I.

Bass swim in schools in the deep channels, waiting to move to shallow water to spawn. Other species slowly fin in dark holes nearby. Cold and sluggish at the moment, they, too, will cruise shallow water, searching out partners for their rites of spring. Trout and crappies, bluegills and perch, walleye and catfish, all wait in the depths while nature adjusts them. Occasionally they eat, but not often. Fat disappears as they swell with spawn.

I know that spring will not be to far behind and soon it will come. When the wind turns and blows from out of the south, and melting snow runs in slushy rivulets down wooded slopes and yes, even city streets. On that day I will be spooling up new Trilene XT line on my reels and tightening my drags. And on that day I’ll smile, my step will be lighter, and the world will be wearing a smile.

Closely thereafter, one fine afternoon when the temperature is comfortable climbing, the garage door will open and I will wheel out the boat and prepare her for the first spring voyage. The hooks have all been honed to an exact sharpness, the reels have been spooled up with Trilene line and the rods have been inspected to see if any eyes need replacing. The batteries are installed and the Mercury motors have been tested and approved. As the boat slips off the trailer into the cool waters of the river I will slip on my Stearns vest, I am the luckiest soul on the face of the earth.

Reflection is always good for the soul and the resolutions of today will make my fishing a little easier next year. To all of you and yours a very Joyous New Year, don’t forget to make and keep some of those reflective resolutions this year.