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Fishless Joe

After a short spring break, I returned home to find nearly all of the local waters still iced in solid.

By mid-week, however, pussy willows were in full bloom, there were ospreys in the sky and loons on the pond.

It finally happened; winter's hard top was removed and we could hit the water. The morning dawned cool, but the sky was bright. We got an early start. Snow was still in the air and the breeze was stiff along the gunnels as we headed out of town.

Tom, my regular fishing partner, had in his possession an old, battered rod with a squeaky reel that was still spooled with last season's line. It coiled with memory like a Slinky toy as it unwound.

He brought along an old tackle box that he claimed to have found in the garbage. It contained a lone Wabbler, a few lures that defied description and some rusted hooks. Not even a bobber!

I had stayed up until the wee hours the previous evening, oiling and respooling reels, sorting through mounds of tackle and readying all sorts of unnecessary equipment. I made sure that I replaced the batteries in the depth finder and even remembered the net.

Fly boxes were emptied and repackaged. My tackle box was cleaned and a wide assortment of lures, jigs and spoons were carefully polished and the hooks sharpened.

Weapons of mass destruction included an 8-foot, five weight, graphite flyrod fitted with fast sinking line and a stiff, 6 1/2-foot spinning rod for trolling. A smaller, 5-foot, light action rod for casting completed the package, but I threw in a small pack rod, just in case.

After an entire winter spent dreaming of giant brook trout, I was ready to do battle. Each armament had been carefully selected for a purpose. I could cast, troll, jig or still fish until my heart was content.

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