The Wide Angle: I’m fishing for compliments

Published 4:58 pm Friday, September 2, 2022

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I think we can all agree that outdoor living probably isn’t my strong suit. I’m not a hunter — don’t even own a gun aside from the pair of guns attached to my shoulders … HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Moving on.

The last full week of August I was on vacation with my partner — a vacation I might add that we usually take with family the first week of July, however, this year the far better half of me couldn’t get the time off and with that we were relegated to going later in the year.

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We once again immigrated to the same resort on the pleasant shores of Bad Axe Lake near Park Rapids, so in the end the usual things took place. It wasn’t a loss by any stretch other than missing out on seeing old friends.

Still, we visited Itasca State Park, ate at Rapid River Logging Camp and fished. Oh, and ate entirely too much, but that’s kind of a foregone conclusion for the week. Most nights will end feeling uncomfortable.

But for the course of this column we have to take a step back to the fishing part. It’s really the only outdoorsy thing — aside from hiking — that I’m at all good at, complete with my technique of casting, reeling, casting, reeling, so on and so forth.

I don’t know all of the nuisanced aspects to fishing that fishing shows demonstrate to really bring in the whoppers. I’m more of a “screw around long enough until I fall in” sort of angler.

And yes … yes I have fallen in, not that you’re all that surprised by the bit of knowledge.

Even by my minimalistic standards of fishing, we usually do pretty well that first week in July, bringing in enough crappies and sunfish for meals. This late in August, not so much. If the lore is to be believed, and honestly, I don’t have enough smarts to dispute this (the solid C average student I was), the fish went deeper in the face of warmer waters and thought they were in waters we either couldn’t find or couldn’t go deep enough.

Each day, though, we found time to float around the entirety of the lake throwing out lines and hoping we knew just enough that a fish would take the bait.

Naturally, that was working around the hijinks that usually occupy my fishing journeys. For example, I excel in tangled lines. So much so that it just happens naturally.

There are few things in life that I excel at. Procrastination, finding ways to not do something, taking extraordinary efforts to avoid getting anything done.

And tangling fishing lines.

Believe it or not, there is a progression — usually. This year I managed to tangle it in such a way that when I made a cast, suddenly there was a giant weave of tangled line where once there was none.

I would call it a talent if I knew how it happened.

What I have been able to discover over the years, which has included extensive study, is that there is a process to the tangle.

First, the day starts innocently with well formed casts that hit the water some 30 feet out with a graceful arch through the air. This number can be anywhere between five and even 20 casts. The science isn’t particularly clear on this point.

Then, on say the 21st cast, a loop seemingly appears out of the inner folds of the reel where before the line had never really been exposed. This is an unexplainable mystery of science that once discovered could very well lead to direct proof of Dark Matter or the existence of theoretical parallel universes as I have no other explanation as to how the loop forms.

The number varies after this as to how many casts can be made before the loop generally doubles in size. At this point it has become a visual distraction because it’s now drawing attention to the very real need to attend to the loop before it becomes a real (get it — reel, real — I gots jokes y’all) problem.

It’s at this point that an extra element of anger enters the perceived equation hinted at by the Loop Paradox. Do you ignore the loop and let the anger grow until you inevitably have  a fish on the line, thus exacerbating the fiasco or do you attend to the problem and risk the lure dipping to the bottom in order to deal with it now?

The loop, in some cases, decides for you as on the 24th cast, three casts into ignoring the issues, the loop has now tangled with the line and stretches to such lengths as to require nimble precision in order to cope with it and save the line.

Twice this very scenario occurred over the week and twice it required me to cut the line in order to fix it. Surprisingly, the equation didn’t include swear words.

This leads to the challenge of attaching the lure back to the line after cutting away the tangle and slack — which helps bypass all irritation that would have been created by trying to untangle the fishing line.

Ever try untangling fishing line? Latin has been learned quicker.

At this point though, I was somewhat satisfied with the effort and the lure was attached in a way I thought was satisfactory.

“Still attached?” my dad asked from the front of the boat as I cast and watched the lure continue casting into the horizon.

“Not any more,” I replied. “Pass me another lure please.”