Classic fishing book stirs memories of old-school walleye and bass tactics

Tim LesmeisterAs the snow began to melt – for the tenth time – in this frozen tundra they call Minnesota, I began some spring cleaning. I never throw anything away, I just rearrange it. Someday, someone might want to listen to one of those old cassette tapes from when Mark Strand and I were hosting Cabela’s radio, even though right now even I don’t have a cassette player. I’ll keep the recordings anyway.

As I was going through the books that have accumulated for the past 40 years I concluded there are benefits to age. I could read 90 percent of these titles again because I don’t remember what any of them said. I happened on one I acquired a few years ago from my brother who paid 25 cents for it at a garage sale in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This book is titled, "Minnesota Fishing Guide" and was written by my friend Ron Schara. I couldn’t help but take a break from my mundane cleaning chore to look inside the cover of this classic that was published in 1978, 35 years ago.

Change may be inevitable, but there is much in the fishing world that remains the same. Bass fishing was becoming more popular in the late 1970s. Schara stated in his chapter on bass fishing that, “The largemouth bass has become the national superstar in freshwater angling. In recent years, mature, responsible fishermen have gone dingy over the fish. They ride in $5,000 bass boats; they wear bass-fishing clothes; they use bass rods, reels, lures and buy any gadget as long as it promises more bass.”

You can see nothing has changed here with one exception. The price of a bass boat today is over 10 times what it was 35 years ago. Bass anglers are still “dingy” over their favorite species, and they'd buy 20 lures of one brand and style if it won the Bassmaster Classic.

Another bonus to opening this book was it contained some great images of anglers who became legends in the sport. There’s Mr. Walleye, Gary Roach with no beard. Roach is sporting big pork-chop sideburns, but his chin is clean shaven. An image of Al Lindner shows that he hasn’t aged much. Time has been good to him.

There’s a healthy dissertation on the benefits of understanding lake maps in the Minnesota Fishing Guide, which today might have been an explanation of GPS usage and map chips, but the basic premise is you must understand why fish choose a part of the lake, and how to find it.

After I put Schara’s book away I dug through the rest of the pile and there were many how-to books on fishing, shooting, hunting and other outdoor sports. The pattern was the same. Some things never change; the basics are universal and unaffected by time. 

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