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The Tackle Box
Ralph B. Spoerl

This is a sad time for the Tackle Box.  I sit back and look out the window, knowing I can’t get in the boat and go fishing.  Soft-water fishing, as we know it, is at its seasonal end—the ice is here.  Oh sure, we tournament bass fishermen could poke a hole in the ice and cast to it, but it’s not the same.  And besides, I hate this winter weather.  No.  For me, fishing is over for the year.  Mother nature is claiming her winter rest.

My thoughts now return to the past tournament season.  Even though my tournament schedule had dropped off a bit, I fished more and caught more fish in a more relaxed atmosphere.  Dollars-and-cents-wise, I feel I saved some.  Yet, over all, I missed a lot as well.  And with the approaching winter… well… it will be a long wait for spring.  Being a tournament person, it hurts to have to give it up—even temporarily.

Oh, we have important work to do to prepare for next year—cleaning reels, sharpening hooks, painting lure, putting new line on our reels, checking our guides for nicks, etc.  And we’ll go to all the fishing seminars and sport shows, being sure not to miss any of them.  If need be, we’ll take the family or a friend or two with us.  But it doesn’t matter who goes along (they don’t understand what we’re going through during this time of the year).  Although, that reminds me of the other important “work” we do at this time of year… a little hunting, playing with our kids, chasing the wife around the kitchen table a couple of times.  But at the end of the day, we will miss the fishing.  Winter, for a northern bass tournament fisherman is a painful waiting game.

Okay.  Enough whining!  Let’s get back to preparing for next season.  I don’t know about you, but I’d like to get better at this sport we love so much… bass fishing and competing in bass tournaments.  The past year wasn’t too bad for me at the club level.  I won a couple of the club tournaments and finished second in the club standings.  That might be okay for most, but not me.  I always remember the words of the great Vince Lombardi… “Finishing second only makes you the first loser.”  And that, my friends, is just not good enough for me!  I want to get out there and win!  So part of my preparation this winter will be map reading, book learning, and rereading articles by winning bass fishers like Jim Jones , Dan Brovarney, and Jimmy Johnson.  It’s going to take some time to draw up a plan, but hey, that’s one thing I’ve got now… plenty of time!

Maybe it’s not such a bad thing that I have the long Wisconsin winter buying me some time.  As a matter of fact, maybe winter really isn’t so bad after all.  The waters rest and we have time to reflect and regroup our thoughts.  And who knows… maybe if we do our homework right, we’ll be able to add a few dollars to our Tackle Box next tournament season.  Here’s hoping!  See you then!