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It has just turned Tuesday Jan 27 2009, and I am writing this after having passed out for nearly three hours due to exhaustion; not from laudanum like Coleridge when he wrote Kubla Kahn. I am somewhere nearing Toledo in a work van packed with tools, luggage, and tired workers.  I fell asleep with the heat on too high in hopes of killing any bugs I may be fighting.  I have waken hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable; but with an idea in my head.  It came to me in a fever dream.

Do Your Own Thing

Do Your Own Thing

I remember when I was substitute teacher years back in northern Wisconsin.  On one occasion a female high school student told me about her desire to become a crime scene investigator and I asked her why.  To no surprise, she replied that she loved watching the various CSI shows on TV and wanted to live the life that those characters lived.  As portrayed on TV, the lives of these professionals are great.  The men are always dashing, handsome, and ready to do the right thing.  The women are beautiful, quick minded, and ready to react at the drop of a hat.

I didn’t want to be the thief of dreams but I felt obligated to tell her that this was not the reality for people in that line of work; that these people are overworked and underappreciated, and that no one can look all that good after being up for 36-48 hours at a crack.  Those who are sleep deprived and sleuthing around in scummy ghettos are often overcome by viruses that their run down immune systems are not able to fight off.  At the very least they would have stubble, bad hair, and bad make up.  Dead bodies are rarely found with a plethora of evidence lying about or found period for that matter.  Also, most crime scenes are not expensive and beautiful natural settings that just happen to have a corpse lying in the middle of them.  Another thing that also almost never happens is the hysterical confession with no lawyer present after being presented with a small amount of mostly circumstantial evidence.  That’s my personal favorite.

The sounds of country music and snoring from the front seat are trying to make me stupid again so before that happens bare with me as I will get to my point.  I went on to tell this young woman and the entire class that they should believe what they see in reality not images once or twice removed from reality, dancing on a screen as in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.  They should believe what they see in reality.

Another student asked me about the television news and I told them not to necessarily believe that either.  And further more, that they should not let the magazines and TV tell them what they should think is beautiful (I have the tendency to go off on a tangent.)  I said they should trust their instinct based on what they observe in reality, and how what they see makes them feel.

These recollections have got me thinking about a couple of recent musky articles I have read to keep myself occupied during my down time on this trip. Should I really believe what I read in these magazines?  I mean I know what works for me, but if I get out in a real on the water situation, is what works for someone else going to work for me.  Experience has told me no.  What works for me are the techniques I have developed during my time on the water.

Sure it is great to hear about what has worked for one successful angler, but at what point does it become a bunch of self indulgent, self righteous, preachy bull shit.  In one article, I did however encounter a good stitch of truth though referring to those with elitist attitudes that scoff at all but the biggest muskies, that these people did not understand the true nature of the sport.  I couldn’t agree with this more.  I have personally rarely if ever encountered a musky that I didn’t like, it would have to be a very poor representative of the species for me to be displeased with it.

I love fishing trophy water, but I also love going home to my beautiful little flowages in Northern WI and catching a handful of muskies the likes of which could come from no other body of water in the muskies’ range.  They may not be the biggest muskies, but they represent unique populations and they mean the world to me.  And that is what it boils down to, personal experience.

Learn basics from the teachings of others.  Trying a technique that has worked for someone else is also a good thing, but be careful of those who claim to be on the cutting edge or act like their methods are the best way to catch muskies.  Lord knows I have been guilty of my own self indulgent bullshit articles.  But my best recommendation for those who want to become better musky anglers is to get out and fish and try to understand your target species as best you can.

Last summer my friend Ryan asked me what he should read to learn more about the sport.  I told him to read as much as possible but to fish more and find what works for him.  Late last fall when I hit a bit of a tough patch, he got himself on a pattern which I happily conformed to.  It ended up being my most steady and long lasting pattern of the season that also produced my second largest fish of the season.  Thanks Ryan, I could not be more impressed or grateful.

My point in all of this is that you should find what works for you.  Don’t mistrust every thing but take it all with a grain of salt.  Next time an article tells you to break away from the pack by fishing a cowgirl on a nine foot rood but doing it slightly differently, think before you believe. I think this is going to be a good one.  For once, I woke up feeling smart and I am glad I didn’t waste it.



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