Monday, June 28, 2010

Fishing buddies

First, thanks to those that took the time and trouble to write and comment about my friend, Bill Baker, long time fishing pal, and his deteriorating health.
I realize that many of you reading this have pals you have fished or hunted with for lots of years. I'm certainly not the only one. And I'm not the first to have ever lost a buddy either.
But just like others, this fellow Bill, was special. He knew a lot about fishing, but mostly it was with bait of some sort.
When I came along, I was gradually getting more interested in artificial baits and catch and release.
We never butted heads over these points. When I fished the St. Clair River with him, I used live bait and kept what we caught that was of legal size.
I never used the hand lining Victrola he gave me. It's tucked away perhaps to be brought out and displayed someplace in the house as an antique.
He talked about leads and how they were hooked up. I never saw any nor did I fully comprehend what he was talking about.
He could chug with the best of them and catch fish. I never caught a thing except a sore arm and elbow from continually moving all that line and lures.
Those that know Bill would all agree on one thing: He would complain if he was hung with a new rope. I mean this guy never stopped. It got to be so bad that I would make fun of what he was ranting about just to show him how he looked. Eventually he would calm down and laugh about it.
I'm running out of guys that have been kicking around marinas, boats, tackle shops, and bayous. They all seemed to have been raised around that sort of thing.
While Bill wasn't much of a hunter, he lived to fish. And when his health left him unable to enjoy fishing, he found some interest and enjoyment from my fishing outings.
He always asked if I had been fishing. I tried not to go into too much detail because I could tell he was dreaming and thinking back to the days when he was able to throw a crawler on a harness half way to Canada from the shore near Port Huron.
I'm going to miss him.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Remembering an old friend

Good fishing pals don't come around regularly. You know if you've found one because you both share a lot of the same ideas, likes and dislikes.
Bill Baker has been my fishing buddy for more years than I care to admit. His fishing days are behind him now. He lies at home in the living room in a hospital bed. A Hospice nurse checks with his doctor about prescriptions he'll need refilled.
"You better come and see him. He's really bad," his friend and caretaker Lois Morgan said when she called yesterday.
Physically, he looks about the same. But 88 years is a long time. The effects of serving in the Navy during WWII have taken their toll just like time itself has.
Now, when I visit, he barely recognizes me. A stroke has left him with a speech impediment. Old age and no doubt the pain he's in from cancer makes him more cranky than usual.
He seems not to realize that those around him are trying to do for him. They want him to be comfortable and not suffer. They will do anything for him.
If he only new.
Driving to see him this afternoon, I wondered what I would say, how would I react. Like other things in life that are really important, those things somehow work out. The right words come, the feelings are dealt with, and sometimes we feel better for making the effort.
While Lois and his daughter from Texas, Carolyn had some dinner, Bill and I talked. We even shared a couple of funny jabs at each other.
As I was leaving I told him to take it easy and I would be seeing him. "No you won't," he said, looking me right in the eye.
Maybe he knows something I don't. I'll say a prayer for him tonight.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Rain doesn't necessarily make for a good garden

Mark Brumbaugh, a professional walleye fisherman from Ohio spends his off fishing time in fields around home.
Brumbaugh is also a full time farmer. He's put lots of hours both on a tractor seat and in a walleye boat.
He's familiar with both activities and knows what it takes to win. Fishing and farming god hand in hand.
They both are weather dependent, require some homework and prior knowledge before dropping a line in the water or turning a furrow over in the field.
In both professions, it's pretty much up to Mother Nature. Those who want to be in control would find out in a hurry they have to turn the reins over and go with the flow.
A couple years back, Brumbaugh plowed, planted and went fishing. Somewhere along the way the weather looked down on him causing to lose a years worh of work on the farm.
That's not new to him. Raised on a farm, it's still in his blood despite all the lack of control, and the ups and downs that go along with it.
This year he told me, "I've got all the work done on the farm. Crops are planted, now it's just sit back to see what happens."
With fishing, he has control over some things, but that weather still hangs around in the background ready to shut whatever grand plans he has, down, once more humbling the big guy I affectionately call "Farmer."
Now if my little backyard garden would get going and the fish would bite next time out, I would be one happy camper.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Affordable vacations

The move to buy American has found it's way into Michigan. Some have taken the idea and concentrated their efforts to "Buy Michigan."
That includes buying products that are raised or otherwise produced here, by Michigan people and sold in Michigan stores.
Will it change the way the economy looks? Probably not a whole lot. But it is another step in the right direction, and it certainly calls attention to the tremendous downturn many have felt here.
If it helps the economy a little, puts a few more people back to work, and generates a little pride around here, it's all good.
Going along with that thought, this year consider taking your vacation, well, here. Stay home, or stay in the state. Goodness knows we have lots to do and see right here.
And those tourism bucks stay in the state, in many cases going right back to work for us in the form of monies received through taxes on purchased goods.
Roads can be fixed, some jobs generated, and the best part, you can stay near home for a lot less than travelling to some far-off place.
Save that trip for another time. Now is the time to get out and explore Michigan. It's another way to support Michigan in many ways.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Oil Spill, not the only form of pollution

Without minimizing the gulf oil spill, which seems to be not going anywhere fast in terms of stopping the leak or clean up, there are other forms to think about.
The pollution-some may not think of it that way-that we breed every time we thrown something out the window or into the lake or river we're on that moment is a constant source of irritation to those that don't use public areas as their own private trash can.
Besides, in the end it's costly to clean all of this up. Remember the saying that "we all live downstream." That means that sooner or later we're all affected, yes by oil spills, but other forms of pollution like littering.
Several years ago I wrote about my youngest son, Mark who was with me on a trip to Grayling and the AuSable River.
We stopped at a canoe ramp to look around. Just as I stopped the truck, Mark jumped out began picking up trash lying all about. The partially used trash receptacle sat there in the middle of bottles, cans, paper cups, fishing line, fast-food boxes and all the rest we so often see.
Put trash in it's place. Whether that is in the pocket of your fishing vest, a bag like an onion sack you carry along for that purpose, or whatever you use, carry it out with you.
We often learn by observing the actions of others. Wouldn't you feel great if someone were to tell you they saw you picking trash up, thought about it, and realized they had been littering but your action has made them stop and think.
From now on they'll clean up after themselves-and just maybe-others too.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Help-Oil spill assistance desparately needed!

During one of his addresses, the President said he wasn't an expert when it came to cleaning up the oil spill in the Gulf. He suggested he was putting together a team of people that were experts in the field.
That's the way to proceed. Find someone you can count on that is knowledgeable in that area, put them in charge, then stand back and let them run with it.
Forget placing blame, what political appointee or administration did or didn't do what. Instead, fix the problem.
Recently, the people that discovered the wreck of the Titanic were featured on 60 Minutes. Why not contact them for their help? They have a good-size ship equipped with remote underwater vehicles that can go down, look at the problem, light it up with powerful underwater lighting, and in some cases, operate arms remotely to do some work at those depths.
Someone said there had been a significant oil spill near Saudi Arabia and that it was cleaned up quickly by using oil tankers who reversed their pumps, sucking in all the oil and preventing a potential problem.
It seems we hear of all sorts of people with ideas, technology, and the willingness to pitch in to help.
Someone give them a call.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Environmental issues come with drilling.

Not too long ago, a permit was requested that would allowing drilling under the AuSable River for gas.
Called directional drilling, this is thought to be a safe way to recover these gases and other minerals.
But there were and are other considerations. For instance, the drilling company would have had to cut down tees to allow heavy equipment onto the Mason Tract. This alone would have damaged soil, displaced animals, and created an eyesore to an environment that was intended to remain as it is, pretty much pristine.
Another problem was noise. Even though the drilling would be directional, there would be need for drilling apparatus to be running, making for lots of noise.
Through the efforts of The Anglers of The AuSable, Trout Unlimited and others, the permit has been denied, so far.
Look for others to try to get at it through any means necessary. It seems that whatever puts the jingle in the pockets of executives from these companies is all that matters.
Turn this around and ask whether they would like to approve a permit for directional drilling in their neighborhood, or on their street? Probably not.
With our requirements and dependence on gas and oil, don't look for exploration to stop or accidents like the current one cease.
This was and is a monumental problem that won't be solved easily.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Staying in shape

The older we get the more we need to pay attention to our bodies, what we do with them and what we put in them.
With two successful total knee replacements, I've got a good idea about the paying attention part.
Now to lose some pounds and take the strain off not only the knees but the back, feet, heart and probably many other parts I'm not aware of.
Fishing can sometimes be troublesome. When I have to kneel on the ice or the deck of a boat it's tricky. The new knees don't like kneeling unless there is a lot of padding under them.
In and out of the kayak sometimes presents a problem because they are designed to bend just so far. And so far it hasn't been much of a problem.
To keep knees healthy, look for low impact sports instead of ones that cause a lot of pounding especially on those knee joints. Oh, they are designed to take it but down the road you'll pay.
Being blessed with good genes would help a lot but isn't something you have control over. I think back to the days of long distance running-usually 6-8 miles daily-never giving a thought that these joints were taking a beating.
So what's the trick? There isn't any. Enjoy life but in moderation in all things. It definitely pays off the older you get.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Outside fun!

For many of us this is the time of the year we have been waiting for since putting the garden to bed last fall, storing the flower pots, picking up the lawn furniture and winterizing the boat.
By this time a lot of those things should be out and being used. We have been busy with our small garden and flowers at home. Seeds we seemed to have just planted are already sending up little shoots.
The lawn chairs have been out and used. We like to build a small campfire at night and sit around hardly talking.
A campfire is a lot like a river. Both evoke certain calming emotions in each of us and require no verbal communication between those nearby.
With two shows under my belt and one fishing tournament, you would think I had some time on the Hobie Outback with peddle drive.
Twice I had it on the water, the wind was very strong making it a chore to stay on course, peddle, and fish. That would have been true with any "yak."
At shows, people are interested in Hobie's unique Mirage drive that usually makes propelling them easy.
Hopefully, sooner than later I'll get a chance to get it wet again and dangle a line. Get outdoors while we have decent weather but be sure to have the mosquito dope on. That and long sleeves and trousers will save you from the bites.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Close by activities

Anyone not heading north this summer can find plenty to do right here at home. That's because we are blessed with many lakes, several with public access, just waiting for you to enjoy your favorite water sport.
Whether that be skiing, tubing, scuba or snorkeling, fishing, or just motoring around a particular lake, there is something for everyone.
We have some great golf course here as well. Two that come to mind are county parks Springfield Oaks and White Lake Oaks. For public tracks these two are always in tip top condition. May a tee time ahead as waits can be long.
The Metroparks also offer golf, boating and fishing along with hiking, biking, or just relaxing. There are parks that offer shooting at gun ranges, disc golf and camping.
Stay tuned to my column in the next couple of weeks for the park-of-the-month and get more details on things to do right here at home.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pontiac Lake Go Get Outdoors Show

Where were you? I didn't see you in front of the south shelter facing the beach At Pontiac Lake Recreation Area.
I was parked right in front of Waterford resident Glen Uhl who brought his fishing boat- rigged to troll-out to show the public.
I had a new Hobie Outback fishing kayak loaded with fishing gear all set up and ready to drop in the water.
This was a nice little gathering that included Michigan Mountain Bike Association, Pontiac Lake Equestrian group, and others interested in sharing their knowledge or expertise about camping, fishing, hunting, using a GPS, nature and hiking and others.
One fellow that was there was "The Goose." You can read about him in this Thursday's Oakland press sports section.
Next year when this little show rolls into town, mark the date and show up. It's really a worthwhile event and not even a tank of gas for most of us.

Friday, June 4, 2010

It's human to make mistakes

I hate to keep this old saw going, but the umpire, Jim Joyce who missed the call that would have given Armando Galaraga a perfect game should be forgiven and allowed to move on.
He's had the guts to apologize to the Tigers, fans, and most importantly, Galaraga. Hos apology, heartfelt, has been accepted by all that matter.
It's the fans that keep this thing alive by bringing it up day by day, hour by hour. Now some have even gotten down to threatening Joyce's family. That's way out of line in anyone's book.
By all accounts, Joyce is a seasoned ump, having been in that position for 23 years. He's respected by Major League Baseball and pro baseball players-once being voted the number two ump in the majors.
He's been selected to officiate at many games at the play off level. That shows trust in him. It's time for fans to move on and accept a mistake was made, a sincere apology was made and accepted, and life goes on.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Where have all our manners gone?

Just like the folk song, "Where have all the flowers gone," the same could be asked about our manners and what has happened to them.
Common courtesies like please, thank you or excuse me seem to have gotten out the door we were holding open for a stranger, and not to be thanked for our efforts.
This Thursday's column talks about being courteous on our rivers and streams when fishing. Local fly fishing guide Kip Lowrie is a huge believer in ethics, conservation and consideration of others, especially when fishing, as I found out during a spring outing with him.
n "I would rather we concentrate on what to do and not do on a stream," Lowrie said as I began asking him all the usual questions about kinds of flies to use, how to tie them on and present them, and when fishing would be at it's best.
Take look at the story. Maybe there are some things in it that will remind you to walk a little more quietly and be considerate of those on the river.