The Good ‘Ol Days
article by Dan Chason
I’ve served in a lot of roles in my life. Personally and professionally. I never dreamed that my passion for fishing would some day require an advanced degree in technology just to catch a fish. My first depth finder was an egg sinker tied on a spool of decoy string. My first fishing pole was…..a pole. Cut from a stand of bamboo that my Grandpa found in the woods. I graduated to a Zebco 33, which I fished for years. Grandpa or “Pop” loved the Zebco 404. In fact, he caught a number of 10 pound plus bass on this rig, including his largest of 14.75 pounds from Lake Seminole. He threw two lures: His favorite was a frog, and his second favorite was a grape Texas rigged worm. Really simple. He got fancy at one point and bought a Lucky 13 top water bait, until it was taken away from him by a local alligator. His comment was that the “durn thing made too much racket anyway.”
I spent most of my young days with two main roles in my Dad’s life. I was his remote control (tvs back then only had a knob and a set of rabbit ears). For you young folks, rabbit ears were these two metal sticks that attached to the rear of the black and white television, usually wrapped in tin foil, which allowed you to pick up local television signals. There was no satellite TV, nor was there cable. When we got “rich,” Daddy bought an outside antenna that hung on a pole outside. This allowed you to pick up stations “way off.” My job was to go out in the rain (usually) and manually turn the pole while Daddy said “little left”…”more to the right” until he got a clear picture. Nowadays a kid won’t get off the couch to even look for the remote much less help their Father find the right sweet spot for his favorite show. Fishing was the same. I thought trolling motors were paddles. I spent most of my young life on the front of the boat, “skulling” or taking a short handled paddle and manually paddled while my Dad and I fished. I was his trolling motor. Today, you have to have a remote controlled 90 pound thrust motor to perform the same task. Boats fly across the water at 70 plus miles per hour and have built in ice chests, live wells (we used a stringer) and now even have automatic pilots that not only let you launch your boat with no hands, but the boat meets you at the dock after launch. How times have changed.
What hasn’t changed is what I long for each time I go fishing. Solace, quiet and the one on one challenge of making a fish eat something that isn’t real. Not only has our gear, such as boats and rods, changed, our lure selection has gone technical. We have depth finders now (graphs, LCGs, sounders, side finders, etc.) that can program the next space shuttle flight. We have devices that lock in coordinates received from a friend or Internet that can take someone who can’t catch their butt with both hands and put them on the sweet spot with the click of a button.
I long for the days of taking one rod on a fishing trip, throwing a frog in the quiet still of a foggy sunrise and watching a bass lose his mind and eat it. I long for the days when the boat was metal or wood and being that kid with the bright orange life preserver (that you wore whether you could swim or not), anxiously waiting for my Pop to tell me when it was ok to cast. I long for the can of sardines and crackers, potted meat and honey bun for dessert that to this day is hard to even smell while fishing. I long for those conversations about life, love and the future. Politics were always on the agenda, as we realized that things done in Washington, D.C. did affect us all. I long for that “Father/son talk” that never happened anywhere quite like it did while on the lake. I long for that smile of approval for that perfect cast and watching the skill of my grandfather as he fought a lunker bass to the edge of the boat. I long for the attitude of “leave it better than you found it” as I watched my Dad pick up trash that he didn’t leave in the lake. I long for the sound of quiet and serenity only found in the dark waters that held so many secrets. But those days are not gone. We move too fast and forget that we are in charge of the future.
My bass boat left my driveway less than six times last year. I have lost the desire to be competitive or to be the best at fishing. Instead, I ease out into my favorite lake now with crappie pole in hand. I do use a foot controlled trolling motor as my aching aging back cannot sit in a flat bottomed boat for long. I don’t use an outboard motor much and instead use these times to reflect. I reflect on where we were and where we are. I want my kids and grandkids to not miss the little things you miss when you fly down the lake at 100 mph. I want them to understand nature and the beauty that God gives us at every sunrise and sunset. I want to pass on the tips and tricks of fishing that my Pop and Dad gave me. I want that information to outlive me and my legacy. I want my grandsons to look back and remember what I remember. Men who taught me conservation and conversation: The real meaning of life and taking the time for those “talks” that molded my thought process and beliefs. There are lessons that can only be learned in the outdoors. Whether it be in a duck blind or on the deck of a boat, a youngster learns these lessons on a one on one basis from someone he or she respects. My desire is to pass it on. And take my future generations to places that no GPS coordinate can find.