How do you work this thing?

“Really. How do you work this thing?!”

To get a sense of today’s tech world from the viewpoints of both older and younger generations, the website “www.todayfunnies” has a cartoon featuring a dad relaxing in his easy chair reading a “print” newspaper and asking his elementary-school daughter the age-old question, “How was school today?” Rather than the forever answer, “Fine,” however, the daughter answers matter-of-factly, “You can read all about it on my Facebook account, Dad.” Another good example would be cartoonist John Deering’s throwback single panel cartoon of a mom, dad and their two young boys at the dinner table with the dad admonishing the boys who are looking at their “phones,” saying, “Stop looking at those phones while you’re at the table!” The kicker is there is a 1965 date in the background and the boys are looking at dial phones. Kind of reminds you of Chris Rock and Joe Pesci’s cell phone scene in the 1998 action/comedy movie, “Lethal Weapon 4,” doesn’t it? Point of caution, the scene is laced with a plethora of expletives.

Anyhow, how many times, especially in this day and age of quick technological obsolescence (outdated or no longer useable), do we, just as we learn how to run stuff, have it become outdated? Lest we begin to point an accusing finger at our Baby Boomers who always seem to be tech-challenged, consider those of that gilded generation were actually pioneers of modern radio, television, mobile (bag) then cell phones, personal computers, sonar, GPS and, of course, the Internet. To be crystal clear, however, those of that generation will be the first to acknowledge the dreaded DVD has been the bane of their existence.

If you want a clarifying breakdown of generational labeling, Baby Boomers were born between 1944 and 1964, Gen Xers - 1965-1979, Millennials – 1980-1994, Gen Zers from 1995-2010 and those born after 2010 are referred to as Generation Alphas. Some smart-alec non-Boomers, by the way, sometimes tend to classify as old fogies, no matter the age, those who double-space after sentences, as old habits are hard to break, just like when word processors first came out and those from the typewriter world instinctively hit return at the end of each line!

This column is not only just about technological change, though, but how we flounder when our routines or roles are altered. To get a sense of this taking for granted customary habits without even knowing they are engrained in us, try this simple experiment. Fold (clasp) your hands. Then, remember if your left thumb is over your right or vice-versa. Next, reverse it. Feels totally weird, doesn’t it? If you want to find out the “whys,” look up “hand-clasping,” it will bring you into the wonderful world of left and right brains and even personality traits.

A good case in point regarding this “routine-switching” happened last weekend when just before a fishing trip a trio of Baby Boomer fishermen became a duo due to a sudden change in plans. Needless to say, the traditional assigned boat seating chart was then disrupted because the fisherman whose dominion was the bow was the one who was not going. The solution to reposition the middle angler to the front sounds simple, right? Nevertheless, those who have been there know it isn’t. It’s sort of like putting a hockey forward between the pipes, although both play the same game, once out of position they are like fish out of water.

Without a doubt, the front of the boat has long been considered to be the “catbird seat.” To background, because most of you who are not “Boomers” have no clue as to what that is, according to the “Online Etymological Dictionary,” “The ‘catbird seat’ is a colloquial phrase used to describe an enviable position, often in terms of having the upper hand or greater advantage in any type of dealing among parties and is derived from the common catbird’s habit of making mocking calls from a secluded perch.” Those of you who paid attention in high school English will also remember it as a popular 1942 humorous short story by James Thurber titled, “The Catbird Seat.”

Anyway, if you have participated in the pretty much Midwest fishing technique of trolling backward, either with the “big” motor, kicker or stern mount electric, you know full well that because of its advantageous position of being able to arch 180 degrees and not being susceptible to having your line run under the boat when the boat captain meanders willy-nilly, the catbird perch is definitely a game-changer.

One thing “catbird seat” fishing underscores, however, is because the front seat carries with it some hefty responsibilities like manning the anchor and serving as the official drift sock (sack) overseer, there definitely is no such thing as a free lunch.

If you don’t know, a “drift sock” is basically a “sea anchor,” a parachute-like apparatus made of durable nylon or other modern synthetic fabric that slows down a rapid drift or the backward troll. Although the premise is simple enough, there are two ropes involved, a “towing” one that is clipped to the boat’s bow launching ring and a “haul-in” rope used to reverse the billowed sock, thus allowing the water to be released when the sock is brought back into the boat. Although this all seems simple, there are times when a novice “catbird” seater might just toss it in without attaching either rope, resulting in job security for drift sock makers and a loss of money for the losing boat owner as the unattached sea anchor slowly sinks. Another “grrrr” factor regarding the ropes is their cringe-worthy propensity to pretzel-wrap around one another.

If you are now remembering fishing’s glory days or tales thereof, back when an actual bucket was used, until the two-rope system was created, hauling in a bucket of water was, well, like hauling in a bucket of water. If you were wondering, a gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds, so a five-gallon pail filled with H2O would be 41.70 pounds – a Herculean lift. There are also other maladies to avoid, like either pulling a fish into the sock and losing it or, worse yet, hooking the sock and then jerking it as if it was going to come out like a light weed and then having to surgically remove it as the hook barbs have an extreme affinity to not wanting to leave drift sock material. This, of course, leads to eventual ripping and finally a new drift sock. Once again, talk about planned obsolescence!

On a more serious note, when you “drag a bag,” not securing the sock when travelling on the lake can have dire consequences as it can easily billow up like the car-slowing parachutes (“drogues”) on the salt flat speed racing cars and stop you cold, either throwing boat occupants pell-mell in the vessel or even in the water. Also, before the “catbirder” tosses in the sack, make sure there are no legs, feet or fishing rods entwined. Incidentally, when the modern drift socks were first introduced, many from fishing’s golden yesteryears either tisked and smirked about another new-fangled fish-destroying contraption or caringly yelled over that a rain coat had fallen in!

So, how did our “forward-turned goalie” do in the front? Save for a few not remembering to pull the sack prior to moving, a couple fish under it and one minor jig/sock encounter, admirable. Oh, there were the occasional grunts and groans when doing the unnatural pullings and hoistings requisite of drift sock duty, a minor two-step stumble while trying to net a fish that darted under it and that just missed grab at the dock pole when ramping up, by and large it was a stellar and memorable moment reminiscent of when 42-year-old Zamboni driver, David Ayres, who on Feb. 23, 2020, became an NHL emergency goaltender in Toronto after both the Carolinas Hurricanes’ starter and backup went down with injuries.

Interestingly enough, the new catbirder’s move to more responsibility must have kicked into gear a higher jigging skill set as he was simply on fishing fire, short-lining and catching the light-biting walleyes to perfection and at one time having the veteran boat captain down 6-0 and mockingly (with the brash attitude of a real “catbird”) sniffing the air as though smelling a “skunk.” Alas, the cruelty of mockery…who would have thought the ski jumping saying from Jim McKay’s 1970 ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” segment on Yugoslav Vinko Bogataj, who on March 7, 1970, at a West Germany 120-meter ski flying event infamously wiped out just a few feet from the end of the jumping platform, “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,” would not only show up in fishing, but be uttered shamelessly by a lifelong fishing partner and friend? Oh, well, it probably goes without saying that there’s no self-pity like a fisherman being skunked…

Nik and Rod Dimich of Dimich Outdoors are on Mercury Marine’s and Ray’s Sport & Marine’s pro staffs; Rod is also a pro-staffer for L&M Supply. To contact Dimich Outdoors, please email: Kristin Dimich contributes to this column.


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