Then and Now

By Capt. James McManus

I am writing this on 9/11 and just realized it has been 18 years, that’s half of my working life. I’ve been thinking about what has changed since that time, both personally and collectively, in all things outdoors. The state of our local lakes has certainly changed. Back then we were trolling Glenville and it was nothing to spend a couple of hours dragging Shad Raps or, as one of our drinking buddies would say “Rolling Shad Traps”, and end up with several nice limits of fat walleye. After some heavy rains, a couple of small ponds up Pine Creek were overrun and for years we caught beautiful rainbows up to nine or ten pounds. I hooked one by myself once, at the island just past Mill Creek, and fought it all the way into Norton Creek opening, before landing it. My buddy, Marty, and I had a standing date to fish on New Year’s Day for those trout; it was as close to saltwater drag pulling runs as you could get in Jackson County. If you were a jig fisherman, a brown, orange, and black jig would yield smallmouth catches totaling several dozen fish on almost every trip. Chunking nightcrawlers to the bank on cat’s paw spinners was another surefire way to catch everything. We had really basic fishfinders then, nothing like the beauties I have now, but then we didn’t need them, the fish were that plentiful.

The same goes for Fontana, although I do remember saying back then that if you hadn’t fished in a couple of weeks, you had to basically start over to find fish. Nowadays, the advantage is that we really do have the technology to look for and find fish, whether it is beside you, below you, or in front of you. The bummer is that it seems like it takes all that to locate fish every trip now, there just aren’t as many fish as there used to be, more and better fishermen and less to catch. I whine too much about that in these articles so I will just leave that subject and move on. I recently purchased a new trolling motor with a walkie-talkie sized remote that I have to put around my neck. It does everything but parabolic imaging (not even sure what that is, but it too seems out of my scope of fluency). There are so many programs you can run that I haven’t even tried but there is one I have mastered; A GPS anchor-lock. All I have to do when I want to stop is push that little button and the boat aligns itself with the stars and there is no fighting to stay put over fish or structure. I remember one trip when my sister and husband came for the weekend and we rented two small boats from Almond. No trolling motors and just small outboards, so to fish, we were using paddles to scull the banks and throw nightcrawlers for “pike”. In March on Fontana, the walleye would be on the bank and would eat a crawler but in March, the wind could get up pretty good and all I remember was trying to paddle both boats along the shoreline with breaking waves since neither sis or her hubby could scull. We tied our boats together and I basically cussed the wind at every breath for the whole afternoon. Not sure if they have fished with me since, so kudos for new trolling motors.

Speaking of improvements, the rod and reels I guide with are way, way beyond what we used to use. Gone are my Zebco “33’s” and gone are those heavy tipped metal handled casting rods. The rods I use now can be thrown all day without a masseuse needed at the end of the trip. Gone also is most of my monofilament. I have converted almost everything that I cast to braid and with heavy fishing, have to change out line only a couple of times a year, and that coincides with big tournaments. This doesn’t mean I necessarily save money, my leaders cost what my rod and reel combos used to cost, but time spent changing out line is greatly reduced with far superior casting ability, even for beginners. That brings me to my fishing platform that, at present, is a Bay Ranger center console. Even used, for me, it cost more than any vehicle, land or water use, I have ever had. It is, however, loaded with all the aforementioned goodies, so it is a pleasure to fish out of, wind, rain or sun don’t much bother me anymore. Something I have done in the past, and hope to continue and encourage you to do, is support our warriors. Wounded or not, they are what stand between us and those that resent our lifestyle and values. That hasn’t changed in the years since, and here’s a “thank you” for all who protect us year after year. Hang on to the good and be willing to change as our sport and passion changes and give me a call if you want to catch a few. Later, Capt. James

Capt. James McManus is the Owner of 153 Charters. Give him a call for a great day of boat fishing!