The Free Press, Mankato, MN

August 11, 2013

Tackle Boxes: Tool Time for Anglers

The Mankato Free Press

---- — Fishermen really don’t wear out their tackle boxes.

They just out-grow them. Which was the reason I recently went out and bought a new one.

A collection of tackle acquired over decades of fishing had grown to several hard boxes and one smallish soft-sided bag, all still very serviceable. But with stuff scattered among them, on more than one occasion I had arrived at the lake to discover I had inadvertently grabbed the one stuffed with, say, panfish or live-bait gear when I really intended to grab the one filled with walleye crank-baits.

It was time to consolidate them into a single location.

I bought one of those soft-sided ones containing several removable, compartmentalized plastic boxes. Only slightly smaller than a steamer trunk, it has room for critical extras like a rain suit, fillet knife and inflatable life vest.

I’m still in the process of sorting through my tackle, organizing and arranging literally hundreds of items.And it’s nothing short of astonishing just how much stuff an angler can acquire over time.

I must have a short memory, judging by the lures I have which are of identical patterns and sizes.And here’s the real kicker in all of this. Most of the stuff has never touched the water.

Like most anglers, I'm inclined to fish with what I am familiar and/or comfortable with and most importantly, what has caught fish in the past. And while a new pattern of this lure, a different size of that one, sometimes is the key to tripping the feeding instinct of a fish, for the most part, I stick with what works — at least works most of the time.

The tackle transfer has been no small task. And going through all of the gear gets one to thinking about what kind of chore and expense it would be to start from scratch if it all should be lost or stolen.

At five, six or seven bucks a pop for the cranks-baits and various other lures, a few bucks for that collection of jig heads, a few buck more for another of another color, a another size — pretty soon, we’re talking some serious money.

All of this brings me to a memory of my dad.

A casual angler by most measures, with a couple of sons with a budding interest in fishing in a nearby lake, he initially maintained an open door policy to the modest contents of his tackle box. But that largess came to a swift end when on a fishing trip to northern Minnesota with some pals, he opened his tackle box to discover that his sons had virtually emptied it.

Thereafter, the steel, turquoise-green box was officially declared off limits. His message was clear: If his boys were going to be fishermen, they should be/would be responsible for buying our own tackle.

Fifty years later, I’m still buyin’.

John Cross is a Free Press staff writer. Contact him at 344-6376 or by e-mail at