Five foot steel rod. Shakespeare baitcasting reel. Braided dacron line. Steel leader. Dardevl, red and white of course. Learned to cast, more or less, with that rig in 1954 from a dock on Lake Roosevelt. A kid's casting education in those days had as much to do with the puzzlement of untying bird's nests as it had with the enjoyment of the rare, long arcing line. Being young but not dumb I would occasionally sneak a glance toward the plaid clad sages near me. I quickly learned that solving the mystery of the bird's nest invariably involved language as blue as the water of Lake Roosevelt on a sunny day. Almost got me smoking Luckies. Eventually did. Coulda looked great. A real man. Seven years old, beat up hat, plaid shirt, khaki pants, filterless cigarette butt hanging from my lower lip, calling down the wrath of God on the friggin' monkey's fist inside my reel and reaching for my hip flask at the break of dawn 'cuz, by gar I'm on my vacation and no dad gummed reel's gonna ruin that.
Flash forward two summers. Same rig, same round-headed, blond-haired, buzz-cut kid looking like Charlie Brown in glasses. This time he's standing on the rocks below the dam in Melrose, Minnesota. Had a heckuva headache but kept throwing my spoon into the riffles of the Sauk River as day turned into night. I was spending a week with my Aunt Lavina and Uncle Joe. As usual I was fishing with my teen age cousins who'd already figured out the Lucky Strike side of the sport. Maybe the flask part also. 1956 was a turning point in my life revolving around my introduction to Mad magazine. I owe that warpage to my cousins George and Tom. And finally, after more than a half century, I admit it was me who forgot to put the minnow bucket back in the river. On what turned out to be my last cast of the evening, I hooked and landed my first northern pike, a twenty-two incher. In celebration we killed it of course. Catch and release wasn't even a concept in the '50s. After trudging the mile and a half home, my cousins filleted the mini-beast. The next day it was served with dinner. None for me thank you. Fish tastes fishy.
Bird's nests are a way of life. Don't happen as often as they used to but the quality may be better. Guess the good things in life get worse and the undesirable; gotta be careful with the undesirable. Don't want to be bringing down the curse of the gods. Tippy-toe around that which can bring you down or it'll do just that. We're not here for eternity and don't want to cut it short through stupidity. Let's just say, bird's nests still suck on the one hand, on the other they made that twenty-two inch pike look mighty good (end with smiley face, a peace sign and a groovy day to everyone).