I have an organization sickness. Iíve known about it for quite some time and struggle daily not to let it overrun me. Nowadays, my ailment probably has a name, like over-compulsive something-or-other, but suffice to say, I just canít let things take up space.
Specifically, if thereís something in my house that hasnít seen use for a while, Iíd rather get rid of it than let it stand idle. I just gave away my wifeís entire collection of champagne glasses. Itís sick.
Such doesnít fit well with my lifestyle and career path. You see, my previous life was driven by bass tournament competition; the epitome of the useless collection of stuff. My new direction focuses more on multi-species recreational fishing. I find myself overwhelmed.
For several years now, Iíve struggled to organize and store volumes of tackle that I will likely never use again. The organizational freak in me wants to get rid of it all, but my past wonít allow for it.
These thoughts and more went through my head this week as I attempted to decide on a direction for my old gear. The first box held about 150 deep-diving crankbaits Ė most of which were brand new Ė and none of which Iíve tied on in at least 5 years. I wondered why in the world they took up my valuable cupboards.
The answer was one of logic. As anglers, we understand the overwhelming productivity of specific lures in certain conditions. As tournament anglers, we further realize that if we have a supply of those specific lures, and our competition does not, we stand a real chance to outperform the rest.
So, do I need 24 identical Rapala DT14 crankbaits in three different colors? No. But at one time I did.
What to do now?
Diving deeper into my complicated psyche, I further appreciate the effort taken to accumulate all this junk in the first place. Even more difficult is keeping it organized.
Again turning back to tournament fishing, itís extremely important for guys like me to know where everythingís at. In fact, when fishing, Iíd rather have fewer, organized lures than a boat full of things in disarray. A couple different worms in two or three colors is all I need.
But there was a time when I needed to haul around a truck full of tackle to some place Iíd never been, in hopes that I wasnít forgetting anything or leaving behind some item that may fly under the radar and give me an edge. And,once there, I had to find it in a hurry.
You know, it was a real struggle to accumulate all that stuff. It was costly, too. And now all this gear simply represents a life gone by, one that I may very well never return to and, if I did, would have likely changed so much that most would be outdated and useless.
But I just canít get rid of it.
When I moved from Michigan to Florida, I held two of the most epic garage sales ever seen in that part of the country. By then, I had accumulated 20 years worth of Great Lakes tackle, enough ice fishing gear to outfit a shanty-city and hundreds of duck decoys. None of it made it on the truck.
Sure, I gave lots to my closest buddies, especially the young guys just starting out; thatís a great feeling. But the majority of my gear went on the auction block, helping to fund a cross-country move that represented a complete life change as much as an address switch. What I saved had now become a burden.
I started through a tub of plastics, and came across the special little jig trailers I stored for trips to the Ohio River, where I won my first big tournament. There was a bag of craw worms Ė with pinchers dyed the perfect shade of orange to match the craws on the Mississippi River Ė still left over from my first trip to LaCrosse in 2001.
A box of old cranks caught my eye; here was a true gem. In it were old Poeís 300 and 400 deep-divers, the lures popularized by David Fritts during his run at bass fishing dominance. I had likely used one of these exact baits to win a big event that got my career going. Today, theyíre dinosaurs.
I opened a box of custom-made spinnerbaits that were absolute killers in tough conditions on the James River. I wondered if they still were. And there were flat-sided coffin bills that ran the table at Buggs Island and Gaston; some still had small snippets of line tied on. I reckoned my last trip there was in í07. I should have won that thing.
Berkley PowerBait by the pound. Ringworms, at one time all the rage in finesse. And lizards. My gosh, the lizards. What was it about a lizard that made it just a little bit better than everything else, even when fished in places completely void of amphibians? And what do I do with them now?
I canít get rid of this stuff, but I canít look at it any longer either. Sure, I could throw some of it up on eBay. But to me, these lures represent so much more than a few dollars. Theyíre memories of a simpler time, when nothing mattered but the perfect shade of green-pumpkin or finding a bait that hunts.
I dream of a day when I can use them all again and recreate the years gone by.
(Joe Balog is the often-outspoken owner of Millennium Promotions, Inc., an agency operating in the fishing and hunting industries. A former Bassmaster Open and EverStart Championship winner, he's best known for his big-water innovations and hardcore fishing style. He's a popular seminar speaker, product designer and author, and is considered one of the most influential smallmouth fishermen of modern times.)