By Leon Archer
I have commented, read that, “grumbled,” about the cost of one of my favorite sports in the past, but from time to time it still rankles me when I run into fishing sticker shock.
When I had to pay $2.50 for 25 worms, I remembered how I had once sold them for 2 cents apiece on a regular basis, and paying about 10 cents apiece seemed almost like an abomination.
However, that price paled in comparison to what I paid near 30 Island Lake in Ontario, Canada just a few weeks ago. The going rate was $5 plus tax for 18 night crawlers.
When the tax was included, the cost of each worm was more than 30 cents apiece.
Fishing used to be a poor boy’s sport, and it is still within reach of the average person like you and me as long as you pick up your own worms and don’t lose too much terminal tackle.
My spring supply of worms has long since evaporated, and I can still catch some good sized pan fish on small feathered spinning lures like Rooster Tails, Panther Martins and the squirrel hair dressed Mepps. They all will take the larger punkinseeds and bluegills. Every once in a while a nice bass will hop onto one of those small spinners too.
Those lures are not too costly, and you can catch a lot of fish on them before the feathers or hair gets worn out. The only thing you don’t want to do is lose them on bottom or on a fish.
Once you move into the hard body lures and stick baits, the price of tackle starts going up. The more popular lures are $7 to $12. It makes me cry when I lose those babies.
I have had really good luck with Yo-Zuri jerk baits in Florida. They are very effective. I use the suspending lures that stay just under the surface down to a foot or so.
I have to shell out $11.95 for them, and I have had those hard chomping blue fish cut off as many as three or four of them in a day’s fishing. That gets expensive fast.
I have never used the jerk baits fishing in New York, but I’m going to give them a try. I suspect they will be equally effective here.
Probably some of my readers are already using them. The lures that stay near the surface can be easily seen by all the predators. When the fish are biting, those lures are fun to fish with.
I have used flatfish ever since I was a kid, and they are still a good, productive lure. That big, wide, wiggling action is hard to resist, and using the flatfish is less demanding than using a jerk bait; just cast and retrieve or troll it behind a boat.
The first walleye I ever caught took a flatfish I was trolling on Sandy Pond. Back then walleyes were as scarce as hen’s teeth in Sandy Pond.
The price of baits and lures is high, and good rods and reels aren’t cheap either.
While it’s possible to buy a spinning rod and reel combination, the quality leaves something to be desired. Those inexpensive rigs work, but once you wrap your hands around a quality rod fitted with a really good reel, it is hard to go back.
A good rod and reel will last a long time and give great service as long as they are washed down and cleaned after being used. It is especially important with the reel, but clean the rod if for no other reason than keeping it looking good.
Lines are the other item that has grown in cost, and there is a bewildering variety of kinds of line to choose from. You can buy cheap line and it will suffice for a while, but it gets stiff, holds a curl coming off the reel, and it loses its strength as well.
If you choose your line well for how you will be using it, and spend more for it, you will be a lot happier if you are doing much fishing. The more expensive lines hold up longer, but none of them are immortal. They degrade over time.
I replace my line just about every year on most of my rods, but in Florida, I often change them twice a year. They get beat up pretty good down there. I also use some fluorocarbon line in Florida. I splice in a terminal piece of 20 pound test about 10 yards long on my regular spinning line. It is not easily detected by those wary ocean fish. It makes a difference.
I hate spending the money, but good line is worth the cost. Professional fishermen may change as often as after every tournament. That should tell the average fisherman something.
In the end, fishing is not as cheap as it once was, but it is still one of the most fun, most relaxing sports I know. So I guess I’ll just keep on up grading and replacing everything, ever so often, and ignore the cost.
I’m just glad that part of the year I can save a few bucks and pick up my own worms. Now every time I pick up a night crawler in my back yard, I can figure I’ve saved 30 cents, and at that rate, I’ll save up enough for a new reel. Even Sweet Thing can’t argue with that logic, now can she?