Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Tackle Box Hell






    It's mid-February and while much of the mid-west and east coast is suffering through brutal storms, here in Alaska it's uncommonly warm. Today the sun is shining. I looked out on the bay and it's like a mill pond. Everything within me wants to go drag some gear around and see if I couldn't hook into a few King Salmon. I spoke to my friend, Captain Jim Dybdahl the other day. He's on his way down to Sitka to join the troll fleet there and get his share of the winter harvest. He mentioned that about 37,000 Kings have been caught of the 47,000 that is allotted to the winter troll season. It usually runs from October 11 to April 15 the following year, but for the past few years the weather has been mild and the fish have been plentiful. If I had brain number one I'd go join him, but no one ever accused me of being too smart. The good weather has, however, gotten me interested in getting my boat and tackle squared away in preparation for the spring. For years I've had the thought that I should go through my gear and get rid of stuff that's not working for whatever reason; try and get the tackle boxes cleaned up so I could find what I wanted without wasting precious time during a bite trying to find the lure that the fish are biting on. Usually I never graduate beyond the thinking stage. Sounds like a good idea but.... fill in the blank. I wish Rod Serling was still alive. Remember Rod from the Twilight Zone, the show where all manner of bizarre and creepy things happened to every day people? Maybe I could hire him to run a few episodes of Tackle Box Hell. I can almost hear him now...." Join me if you will as we venture into a land that few have ever dared to travel. It's a land of bent spoons and broken, rusty hooks. Once bright hoochies lay in dirty plastic bags, their bead inserts chemically melted into their heads. It's a land of broken dreams, hopes of large catches of fish now drowning in the bottom of the filthy tackle box mixed with spilled coffee and fish scales. Hang on to your souls, you're about to enter Tackle Box Hell." As you can see, there is a world of difference between the top picture and the bottom. I have two tackle boxes that I use. The top one is used mainly to store the new hoochies and spoons. The other handles an assortment of other smaller things that I need- Jinkai sleeves for crimping the eyes in the line, gumpuckies - sounds nasty doesn't it- for inserting into the head of the hoochies, swivels, several crimping tools, an odd assortment of hooks that never made it back to their original boxes, some fairleads, doughnuts, a line zinc, beads, snaps and other assorted and sundry items, plus hoochies with leaders, to say nothing of the rust and dirt languishing in the bottom. Tackle boxes can be both exciting and scary places, especially ones that have been around for awhile. They hold not only the gear needed to make a trip successful but the hopes and dreams of a profitable season. Also they kind of stink. Years of handling gear with fishy gloves and spilled coffee and bread crumbs, along with  the vinyl scent of some lures all add up to a unique scent. Not totally unpleasant, but not one you'd like to sprinkle on your bed sheets either. Of course the two boxes are just a small part of the massive amount of gear that I've collected over the years. There is a cupboard down in the focsle that is devoted to boxes of flashers and hooks on one side with room under the sink on the other side to store some old troll wire and trolling blocks. I have the top of my bunk pretty well covered in plastic storage bins that have pre-tied hoochies and flashers with leaders of different sizes for the type of salmon I'm fishing for. I have dozens of old spoons hanging from racks both top side and down below. Most I'll never use again. The paint has faded or been scratched off from the swinging of the hooks or perhaps the teeth of a number of fish. I can't bring myself to part with them though. I'll see how it goes with the tackle box cleaning. I suspect I'll sort through different bags of gear and see that the leaders have gone opaque and the hooks have rusted. The hoochies are stuck together or dirty or dull. There will be others that I'll look at and remember, oh, I caught nine kings on these purple ones thirty years ago, I can't get rid of these. Of course it won't matter that I haven't caught anything since. Or, green is my favorite color, these might work good this year, so I'll stick the olive green lures with the lime, chartreuse, forest, white striped, black dotted ones and dream of the possibilities. I don't doubt that I'll sort through the gear, and I'll probably get rid of some stuff that I just can't justify saving. It will hurt, but on the positive side, I'll have a little more room for some new gear.

10 comments:

  1. Loved the Twilight Zone intro! Well, you fishermen certainly have a lingo all your own - I didn't know all those things weren't just lures and hooks! I do love the sound of "hoochies", don't know why, but it sounds so, well, naughty! I know what you mean about trying to clean out and probably ending up pitching very little - same thing happens to me when I try to clean my sewing room and quilting tools. Have at it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jill,
      If you think hoochies sounds naughty, try gumpuckies on for size. Those are the little rubbery inserts that fit into the heads of the hoochies in order to make them fill out a little and I guess give them some body so they'll look more like an octopus or squid. Hoochies came about when a pilot was shot down I guess in the Pacific and noticed that the fish were biting at the threads of his torn clothing. Apparently after the war he got the idea of making plastic or vinyl lures that resembled octopus, and because the legs kind of danced around they were called hoochies, after the hoochie koochie girls of the time. The name stuck, and only the most proper person( not a real fisherman) would go to the tackle shop and ask for a package of vinyl octopi. They'd probably be laughed right out of the store. By the way, I did actually get rid of a fair amount of gear that I hadn't used for years or that just didn't produce. One of my friend's daughters loves fishing gear, and as soon as she saw the bag of hoochies got the idea to make earrings. A young entrepreneur in the making.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the hoochie history! Love it!

      Delete
  2. Good blog dad. I love all the different colors of the fishing gear and the hoochies :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Camille,
      I love all the colors too. That's why those wicked people at Tideland Tackle put the hoochies and spoons right at the front of the store, so hapless fishermen like myself, who can't help themselves, will be assaulted by the colorful display as soon as they enter. Of course I have no self control, hence, two tackle boxes full of gear.

      Delete
  3. Good blog dad, I can totally picture the voice from Twilight Zone...however the one with Tully was always my favorite...with the creepy doll...good times! That aside, I always liked playing with hoochies, so colorful!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ol' Rod Serling had quite the imagination. He probably had a hand in Steven King's success. It's funny that something like hoochies can appeal to babies as well as adults and everyone in between. I should probably make myself a mobile out of glow in the dark hoochies and hang over my bed to use as a night light. Perhaps I could even market them for use in assisted living homes. Ah, the next great idea. They just keep on coming!

    ReplyDelete
  5. The hoochie mobile is a great idea. I wouldn't mind having one for Noah :) He would LOVE it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Camille,
    I'll have to see what I can do. Unfortunately I gave away all the hoochies that weren't producing, but I'll see what I can find. It might be nice with a couple of pieces of driftwood. Remind me again a little later in the season

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks Dad. If you do make one and it turns out good you should defiantly market it :). Love you

    ReplyDelete