Every year about this time, folks begin looking forward to spring. Especially fisherfolks. Longer days, moderating temperatures, thinning ice, running water and the lure of big fish -- lots of 'em! -- all conspire to spark the imagination. Whether you brave the last vestiges of frozen water afoot, break the remaining rim of shoreline ice to slip a jon boat into a river, venture south for milder climes to intercept a prespawn walleye run, or do nothing more than rummage through your tackle box in anticipation of the new season, the magic is rekindled. The pilot light of eagerness may have been on low throughout the extremes of midwinter, with barely a glowing ember amidst the ashes clogging the fireplace. But once Mother Nature begins sending her subtle signals your way, you can't help bending a receptive ear. The siren song of spring is upon us, and along with it the promise of a new beginning.
In life, as in fishing, folks can cruise along year after year in a comfortable setting, basically fishing the same waters while avoiding change. Change, as they say, can be hard -- though not necessarily. It can also be exciting -- especially if it's not too big an adjustment, with a comfortable ring of familiarity. Testing new waters can be both exhilarating and intimidating, but if you begin by probing the shallows, rather than leaping off the deep end, chances are you won't get in over your head. At least, theoretically. On the other hand, off the deep end you learn how to swim, and right away -- or else.
Sometimes, even the most stationary among us feels the allure of new waters and senses that it's time for a change. Not a midlife crisis, mind you. Nor even a major course correction. Just the growing desire to explore a different channel along the river of life tugging gently but insistently at your soul. What if?
Those of you who've been reading Walleye In-Sider awhile know that I've been writing these leadoff articles for a long time. In fact, if you dive into the In-Fisherman archives, you'll find me peering out of the pages going back some 28 years -- even before that, as an outside contributor. That's a career, almost a lifetime, for many folks nowadays, in an age where "jumping ship" every few years is considered good for enhancing your prospects. I've gone from entering the business at an early enough age to be labeled "the kid," to now having a new generation of kids referring to me as "Mister." Despite this tenure, Uncle Sam still feels I have a long way to go until I qualify even for early retirement, so I fall into the odd category of being not too old, not too young, but ripe for a change.
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It is with these thoughts in mind that I've elected to trade hats, moving just a couple of miles down the road (see, not too adventurous after all) to rejoin some of the old gang who started In-Fisherman, at their newest enterprise -- Lindner Media Productions. New waters, yet not totally unfamiliar; a new adventure, with the comfort of knowing the folks I'll be working with are old friends, much like the ones I'm leaving behind.
So, I thank you, our readers, for putting up with my odd blend of experience and irreverence all these years. We've always tried to blend fishing education with a bit of humor, taking the sport seriously without taking ourselves overly so. I've learned a lot from all my fellow staffers, so I take this space to thank them, too, for sharing their experience, insight and encouragement to help me become a better angler, educator and author.
And a special thanks goes to all the Professional Walleye Trail pros and staff with whom I criss-crossed the country the past 16 years, testing new waters and systems while learning from some of the best in the business. Your discoveries and contributions to both Walleye In-Sider and Walleye Guide have been terrific, propelling the sport of walleye fishing forward at an amazing pace. Old and new friends all -- then, now, and into the future: It's been real, and it's been fun. I'm sure I'll see many of you on the water; I'm still more than glad to share your best spots.
So, as I trailer on down to the next launch site, I do so with a mixture of appreciation and excitement, treasuring old memories and looking forward to making new ones. And feeling certain that the next wave of authors and editors will pick up the torch and run with it. A changing of the guard, with new guardians of change at the helm.
And you never know. I just might be able to sneak in a future contribution or two to Walleye In-Sider now and then. The old(er and wiser) dog still may have a few new tricks up his sleeve, hopefully for many moons to come.