Once upon a time, fishing was a pretty simple affair.
A rod-and-reel, some bait and tackle, perhaps a rowboat if you were lucky, and you were in business.
While the basic premise of angling — to catch fish — remains, it sure seems to have grown more complicated.
Visit a public boat landing on any weekend, but particularly this weekend which happens to be the opening of the bass season, to understand this.
Many bass-fishing aficionados will be motoring away in sleek boats sporting 200-horsepower motors and bristling with an array of electronics, including side-view sonars and trolling motors that read signals from satellites, to enable them to hover over a particular spot.
And those are just the things you can see.
Likely as not, tucked away beneath the deck are several $200 rods sporting $150 reels, thousands of dollars worth of tackle — all of this to catch a fish that few of the anglers are inclined to keep for dinner.
Walleye and panfish enthusiasts are not much different, except that they might toss a few fish into the livewell.
Regardless of which species trips your trigger, it’s not at all that difficult to burn through $60,000 or more for all of this, just to get a tug on a fishing line.
Certainly, that kind of dough gives new meaning to that old definition of a boat as a hole in the water that one pours money into.
But not much about fishing is as simple as it once was.
Forty years ago, when you bought your license, the list of regulations and laws that came with it was contained in a few pages of a fold-out pamphlet. Over the years, it has grown and grown some more.
In 1998, it took 67 pages to cover everything we needed to know.