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GENERATIONS: Doug Lewandowski: When the fever ends, the fun (fishing) begins

The fever comes on slowly. It’s not an unpleasant feeling, just a mild blush on the skin, subtle agitation and a shift in awareness.

Doug LewandowskiWhen the first catalog appears there’s a vague sensation of needing to wet the lips in anticipation, then an acceleration of thought and a rise in heart rate and blood pressure. A flyer from a Canadian locale and dispatches with colorful pictures start to appear in snail mail and over the net; symptoms intensify. Finally, the days grow longer and with the promise of snow melt, the fever hits its stride. There is little hope.

The warmer days of March bring a return of the Cabela’s and Bass Pro catalogs. The boat that served quite well last season has shortcomings. A new piece of marine hardware would make for a better catch, the boat seat that is ragged needs replacement, and an extra switch on the console will undoubtedly ensure reserve power from the batteries. If funds have been quietly squirreled away, the big stuff can be added, upgrading electronics or propulsion. The list gets longer and level of delirium soars.

With each day comes other incursions from the “In-Fisherman” on TV, feeding the fires. These guys never miss a beat or a fish. There is a rational part of every angler that says, “There is no way these guys can catch that many fish in a half hour!”

Things ramp up even more after the end of the dark house season. The windswept shanty towns on frozen lakes disappear as four wheel drive pickups haul away the remnants of what was once a fishing village.

When the last of the year’s snowfall melts and trickles off the blue tarp sheltering the boat, an undeniable urge to rip off the rest of the cover persists. This, despite the fact that 2 feet of snow must be navigated to even get near it. As more icy mounds disappear in the strengthening sun, the trailer is hitched up and towed to the middle of the driveway. Last season’s pine needles, leaders and dead minnows are removed, never mind that open water is at least a month or longer away.

Rotting ice and the submerging of a truck or two signals open water is approaching. Contagion spreads in the quest for an ice-free harbor as agitated anglers crowd boat landings for access. When a small lake is finally ice free, starters rattle as they turn over motors and clouds of oily smoke rise skyward with the roar of pistons. The fever has broken.

Strength returns after Spring’s discontent dissolves. Next comes tackle preparation and lure purchases and recalibration of electronic mentors. The wait for the official door to spring fishing can be tolerated.

After all, when the fever ends, the fun begins.     

More of Doug’s writings can be seen at