By Joe Sills

    I hate winter ! I hate winter ! Always have, always will. Growing up in rural West Tennessee, I hated getting up on those cold, frosty mornings. Stepping out of a warm, cozy, heavily blanketed bed and on to that freezing, wood floor made for a swift dash to the kitchen, which was the only room heated in the house at night. After breakfast, it was slopping over to the little barn where my task was to milk our Jersey cow for my little brother’s whole milk, which was required for some sort of deficiency. The next daily trial was standing behind a sheltering cedar tree waiting for the school bus. Incidentally, that old cedar is still there, sheltering the newest generation from those bitter north winds.

    At the time, it was possible to step out the back door with my 16-gauge pump, whistle up my cur dog, and wander the fallowed fields and brushy ditches for a few hours of rabbit hunting. Still have a weak knee from jumping a creek with a game pocket full of cottontails. Most of us, of that era, were not fortunate to hunt deer ‘cause there were none! Duck hunting was for the rich sportsmen who owned duck holes or belonged to a duck club. The rest of us dreamed of warmer days when our Christmas gifts of rods and reels, and maybe a few lures, would be ready for bass action. Even then, it would be weeks before the fish moved shallow in our local farm ponds.

    We would fritter away the gloomy days playing Monopoly, watching our parents’ black and white TV, or maybe gluing together a model airplane or hot rod. However, for us “Bass Nuts”, it was time to prepare for the “bass wars” to come. Sharpening hooks, touching up lures with model car paint, cleaning and restringing our Zebcos and Johnsons, and reading the latest “ Field and Stream” or “ Outdoor Life” magazines. Our favorite writer was “Peephole Hall”. Whom ever he really was, we’ll never know, but he was the most bass savvy fisherman ever! In addition to a few pertinent fishing articles, we learned how to catch salmon and trout, kill a grizzly, or chase down an elk. Totally dreaming, too. Reading the ads was very inspiring. The Charles Atlas body building ads were a great motivating factor to fifties-era youngsters. Then came the WWII surplus ads featuring rifles, tents, jackets and rain gear for incredibly low prices. One could buy a Jeep, packed in a box, for less than five hundred dollars. Assembly required, however. And then came a fishing reel made in Sweden that was guaranteed to end backlashes, the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur! At $19.95. Who wouldn’t buy one, after all, our Zebco 33 and Johnson Century sold for $5.95! But even that price was a small fortune when the going wage was about 35 cents and hour.

    These days, when expediency is paramount, we rarely take the proper care of our equipment. When something messes up, we just toss it aside and purchase a new one, usually the next step-up model. Guess what, the fish don’t know the difference between a basic model and “The Latest and Greatest”. Think how much money might be put to a better use if we did take care of our “stuff” and take this off-season to do the proper cleaning and restoration of, not only our tackle, but our boats and motors. Spring will be here very soon and it behooves each of us to be prepared. Get Ready ! MSHFN.

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