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Hook and bullet club

Tauno Maki brought in a copy of a clipping from the Ely Fish Facts, a summer publication of the old Ely Miner newspaper. The piece was entitled, “WARNING: FISHING POX! Very contagious to adult males. “Symptoms: Continual complaint as to need for fresh air, sunshine and relaxation. Patient has blank expression, sometimes deaf to wife and kids. Has no taste for work of any kind. Frequent checking of tackle, catalogues. Hangs out in Sporting Goods Stores longer than usual. Secret night phone calls to fishing pals. Mumbles to self. Lies to everyone. NO KNOWN CURE.“Treatment: Medication is useless. Disease is not fatal. Victim should go fishing as often as possible.“(Signed) Wiley Bass, Department of Public Health.”There’s got to be a few people out there who can sympathize with those words, and up until the last week, having a case of the fishing pox could be even more troublesome.It was no real secret that the walleyes were not jumping in the boat. Not on Shagawa, not on Vermilion, not even on Basswood. Slow. Insert your reason here. Weather. High water. Too much feed. Not hungry. Don’t know. This will drive a fishing fanatic right to the edge. It’s one thing to long to be out on the water drowning minnows, it’s quite another to do so for hours on end and not catch anything. You know the saying: The fishing’s great, it’s the catching part that stinks.I even had a long-time fish pig tell me he had a good time on Basswood Lake when they only brought home three walleyes. I found that hard to believe until he threw in the part of bringing home a cooler full of empty plastic beer bottles. But maybe there is a time in each angler’s life on the water when he or she is able to say, “Just being out here is enough. I don’t care if I catch a fish or not.” Not that any of them would actually say that out loud and risk angering the fish gods. No, this would be more of a thought posed to one’s self with the hopes that it would help bring the fish back to being hook eaters instead of passers-by.For the fisherfolk with the new underwater cameras, this whole situation has to be even more frustrating. Imagine sitting in the boat all day watching fish not bite your hook. I was talking to a guy in the bait store the other day who told me he watched walleyes chase minnows in six feet of water. “With one of those cameras?” I asked.“No, with my bare eyes. Didn’t even need a camera for this,” he said with disgust. “Enough to drive you nuts.”Despite his best efforts to dangle a minnow on a hook in front of the walleyes’ noses, no deal. Of course, there are always those guys who go out and catch their limits and make everybody else think they have some expert knowledge or new-found technique or something.That’s not the case, they just got lucky. Right place, right time, right bait and a $20 bill and you can walk into the local grocery store and buy walleye fillets. If you’ve got luck on your side you could drop a rusty Daredevle over the side of your boat in 30 feet of water and nail a 10 pounder. Looking at the entries in this week’s North Country Angler contest, you can see the tide has turned and more fish are coming in. There’s even a 12 lb. 10 oz. walleye registered this week.And if the guy who caught that fish didn’t have fishing pox before, he does now.

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