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Cabin fever

Haven’t fished since the 8th of the month. Maybe it was the 9th. Seems so long ago that I don’t remember for sure. I do remember that the last time I was out, Jimfish and I each got a load of fish on topwater stuff. Looking at my rods in the corner, I still have an unweighted 5½” Freaky Fish rigged up from that day. Whenever it actually was.

But since then, conditions just haven’t been conducive for this old man to get out there.

First it was enough snow to make the thought of backing my boat up the steep driveway at the end of the day an issue. Then it was extreme cold, which hasn’t really gone away yet, and which has kind of limited how much melting has been going on. I’m still leery of backing the boat up my drive way.

Hopefully, a couple warm (It’s a sad state of affairs when you think of the low 40s as warm) days ahead will take care of that.

In the meantime, I’ve been shopping for a few items, which got me to thinking about some of the things I’ve bought over the years that didn’t work out so well, and more importantly, some of those that really did.

I think one of my worst fishing investments — two really, since I bought two of them — was a Berkely Tactix flipping stick. I wanted something strong and not too expensive, for flipping the chestnut, back when there was plenty of nut to flip at Champlain. The Tactix had a really, really heavy duty blank and all two footed guides. Perfect for pulling fish out of the thickest cover. The blank was a little heavy weight-wise perhaps, but power-wise, it was everything I could ask for in a rod designed for that kind of abuse. Unfortunately, it turned out to have the most worthless reel seat ever put on a rod. The plastic ‘nut’ to tighten the reel seat was inside the front grip, and would just jump threads if you tried to tighten it enough to actually use. My Berkley contact at the time sent out a couple new ones to replace the defective ones. They suffered exactly the same malady.

The two rods are still standing in the darkest back corner of tackle closet. I keep telling myself that one day I’ll have the ambition to strip the guides off one of them, take the belt grinder to the existing reel seat and replace it with something functional, then rewrap the rod.

Like that’s ever going to happen.

If you see this reel locking front grip setup on a rod, put it back on the rack and step away.

Now we’ll move on to something(s) that have more than earned their keep over an extended period.

The Cabela’s store in EastHartford, CT opened in the fall of 2007. I took a ride there to check out some foul weather gear a month or so later. Not sure if I got my insulated Guidewear on that trip or not, but this isn’t about the rain gear, per se. Eventually, I found myself in the “Bargain Cave”, where I came upon a pair of Hi-Tec brand, waterproof hiking boots in my size, for a price that I couldn’t pass up. As far as I could tell, the only reason they were in the Bargain Cave was a scuff mark on one of the toes.

10 year old, Hi-Tec Altitude IV boots that are still going strong.

It’s now been 10 seasons on those boots that cost me less than 50 bucks at the time, and they are still going strong. I probably wouldn’t have bought them at the normal price then. But knowing now how well the perform and hold up, I would do so now without hesitation. Then again, I suspect that this pair will outlast my active outdoor lifestyle in a cold weather climate, so it might not ever be an issue.  I wear them from late October through early April, every time I go fishing, which the past ten days aside, is a lot. I wear them working in the yard, and before the arteries in my legs went south and stopped me from doing it, I wore them hiking 5 miles a day in the woods.

I’ve gone through a couple sets of laces, and a couple years ago, I replaced the cushions in the soles with ones I lifted from a pair of athletic shoes I was throwing away. They may not look all that great any more, but the only time my feet have gotten cold or wet in them was when I stepped in water deeper than the boots are tall.

Atsko Sno-Seal – probably the reason those old boots are still waterproof

I do treat them once a year — sometimes twice — with Sno-Seal Beeswax leather protector, which is also a product that has been surprisingly effective. I got a 7 oz can of it longer ago than I’ve owned this set of boots, and it’s still nearly half full. Yeah, I’m sure it’s more work to apply than something in a spray can, but in my experience, it works far better, for less money.

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