As I See It: Fish tales

Everyone has a great fishing story or two

Photo illustration /
We are part of The Trust Project.

Are all fishermen liars or are all liars fishermen?

This has been the question for ages and probably won’t ever be answered.

We have all heard stories about “the one that got away.” And occasionally we hear stories of someone’s biggest catch. Those are normally accompanied by photos of the actual fish or one that is now mounted and conspicuously displayed on a wall at one’s home.

But those don’t all encompass the art and joys of fishing. I stock the fishing rods, reels, line, lures and equipment at a local store, and I can attest to the wide range of preferences for specific lures, jigs, color combinations, artificial “worms” and so much more.

It is obvious to me that it all must work to some level of satisfaction since nearly everything sells.


My fishing career began at a lake in Washington Park in Milwaukee. I and two intrepid friends had some pieces of bamboo poles, string and open safety pins for hooks. With some worms or grubs we managed to dig up for bait, we sat on the bank of the lake waiting for Moby Dick’s younger cousin to bite so we could haul him in.

What we did catch was much closer to the tropical fish in our aquarium at home. That didn’t matter, even when we seemed to catch more crayfish than anything else.

I don’t ever remember paying for live bait either. Soaking the front lawn on a summer evening was certain to bring up the night crawlers. Armed with a flashlight, one had to be very fast to grab them before they shrunk back into their holes once the light hit them.

Read more of 'As I see It'
Members Only
Columnist Pete Abler talks about similarities between a mouse utopia and the world today
Members Only
A few thoughts on the state budget surplus.
Members Only
Columnist Pete Abler shares thoughts on Christmas
Members Only
It is a feeling I believe everyone should have the opportunity to experience
Members Only
Columnist shares post-election thoughts and more
Members Only
I ask you to say a small prayer for the safety of all the men and women of our armed forces – not just on Veterans Day, but every day
Members Only
How abortion rights are shaping the upcoming election.
Members Only
Climate change, abortion “rights,” the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues have been, and are being used, to push us down into another form of slavery where the citizens must obey the dictates of the government

Angle worms could be found in any soil that had a reasonable amount of organic material and moisture. My grandfather had the mother of all worm beds in his dirt-floor basement, which he dutifully fed with coffee grounds.

And they still make minnow traps, so folks can catch their own bait.

I heard a story of a young boy named Ethan who was fishing with his father. Ethan was eating a doughnut and started dropping small pieces off the side of the boat without any success.

He decided to drop the colored sprinkles, which immediately attracted any number of fish. I don’t recall if his father had any more success because of this.

I had two notable stories about the one that got away.


The first was when I was 13 or 14 fishing with my father. We were staying at a resort on Lake Roosevelt. My dad awakened me at some ungodly hour. It was still dark as we motored out, and I couldn’t believe we were doing it at all. I don’t remember either of us getting any bites for quite a while and then one hit my hook.

Looking back now, I think it was probably a walleye. I lost him just about the time he was coming close to the surface.

The second one was about 10 years ago in Canada on a fly-in trip when what had to be a humongous northern broke my rod. I grabbed the line and started hand-over-hand - not easy with bare hands - but he must have snapped his head and cut the line.

One final anecdote. I was fishing on a Memorial Day weekend off the Florida panhandle with a number of fellow Air Force pilots and our boss. We had spontaneously set up the trip at a party Friday night, and at midnight we left home in Georgia for Mexico Beach. At 2 a.m. in Tallahassee we grabbed a hamburger at the golden arches and arrived at the pier around 5.

My wife had made me a peanut butter sandwich and insisted I take a large yellow sun hat to keep from getting burned. I ate the sandwich about 9 a.m., hoping to quell the rumbling from the earlier burger. The sandwich seemed to stick halfway down, so I drank a beer to wash it down.

That made things worse.

Out on the water, we were fishing for king mackerel. Every time we found a run I was the only one who hit and caught a fish. I began to fear for my life as my jealous compatriots grew unhappier.

Added to that was my queasiness from earlier, and by now the boss who was running the boat was maneuvering to rock the boat as much as he could so he could make me hurl - a faux pas that would have earned me humiliation and a new call sign.


Pete Abler - As I See It.jpg
Echo Journal Columnist / Pete Abler

Additionally, I was wearing no shirt and a large, yellow, woman’s sun hat. And apparently, a number of boats were trying to pass by closely to catch a glimpse of a topless woman fishing!

In conclusion, I have found the true joy in fishing is not catching a lot of, or even any, fish. It is the time to be at peace with any number of things.

One thing I do know, fishermen and fisherwomen will never lie as much as politicians.

That’s the way I see it.

Opinion by Pete Abler
What To Read Next
Even Thomas Jefferson wasn't immune to feeling morose, but we can learn from him
Members Only
It's not always as easy as it looks, especially when the temperature is 30 below zero
"If we are unwilling to admit that the racism exists in our power structures, people of color will continue to pay a deadly price."
We could all use a good laugh to start out the new year.