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“Where’s Jack?”

This is a question Barb has no problem answering from April to October. If I don’t fish, play golf, or otherwise work outside the home, she knows the likely answer is, “He’s out in the garage.”

Our garage is the Fishing Headquarters when the season starts at high speed. It is a home out of the water for Bass Cat when not on a lake or river and is the base of operations for strategic planning and tactical preparations.

I enjoy wandering around the boat when I don’t have time. And when a fishing trip is on the horizon, I can think of a few better places to stay besides the garage to keep the boat and my fishing gear ready for action.

Garage time is cathartic. It is good for the soul and even helps calm the bones. When I’m in the garage, there are no bigger conflicts than the decision to tie the baits to poles and reels that go to the lake.

Choosing the right things can be a job. It varies from lake to lake. What I do on Lake Erie is a lot different than what I do on the Ohio River. Our local reservoirs also present different conditions that make it silly to go with a game plan that suits everyone. What works at Shenang is not necessarily what I have to do at Milton.

People who do not fish may not appreciate the effort required to succeed on the water. Happiness is not what defines a successful fisherman; it’s hard work.

I’m in the garage for two hours, sitting on the Bass Cat deck with bait boxes at my fingertips and sticks on hand, is my pre-match ritual. As my hands get busy, my brain starts to slip into fishing mode. I forget about problems and see water, feel the sun and imagine possibilities.

I guess it’s similar to a ball player going to the locker room a few hours before a hit, first throw or alert to prepare his head and body for the big game ahead of us.

Being prepared on the water depends on great attention to detail. The simplest tasks are just as important as the biggest decisions.

No fisherman wants to be a victim of Murphy’s Law. If he can go wrong, he’ll go out on the water. The rope must be wound evenly to avoid riots in the bird’s nest. The knots must be perfect or they will break under pressure. Hooks need needle sharpness. The baits should be stored neatly and exactly where the angler expects them on board.

All this makes the fishing trip go smoothly. But there is, of course, much more, especially in the maintenance of the ship, the outboard engine and the system and accessories. An ounce of garage prevention pays off in tons of safety on the lake.

Today’s marine electronics can work just as hard for a fisherman in a garage as it does on water. I can cut around a map of the lake on my Lowrance while parked at home to study the contours and points it is likely to produce tomorrow while fishing.

The garage is really a place that happens. It even includes reinforcement for the accessory box when a busy fishing day results in depletion of supplies of plastic and other baits stored on board.

“Fishing” it really is much more than just throwing and turning. I do a lot of my own “fishing” while the boat is parked in the garage.

It’s all for one day of work for a well-prepared fisherman.

So maybe that could be more accurate the next time someone asks Barb, “Where’s Jack?” that she declare “He works.”

Jack Wolitz’s book, “Ordinary fisherman”, dive into the ups and downs that combine to make fishing a passion for so many people. Appreciate reader emails. Send a note to [email protected]

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