Thursday, February 25, 2010

My First Tackle Box......A Very Special Gift

In loving memory of Daniel J. Cahill Jr. 7-7-1932 to 2-25-1988

This archived post was written for Dad. Today would have been his 78th Birthday.
I thought it was a good time to share this post with all of you again. I will be going fishing in 23 days with my brothers, my son and a good friend. Dad I know you will be with us. I love you! -Kirk-

Some day I will have to do some digging to find the video tape my mother has of me opening my first tackle box. It was filmed on an old super 8 movie camera with no sound, but yes, it's in color and I'm not that old. Mom later converted all our movies on to video and added some cheesy background music to them. I haven't watched them for quite awhile, and I think it's time to entertain Shirley and Bryan with a night at the old house, watching some classic movies of a kindergarten kid in checkered (or were they striped?) pants.

The tackle box was made by Plano, a dark green hard plastic, with one white tray, and a clasp at the front . I sat on the patio and opened it up, remembering to this day the items inside. There was a new Zebco 202 reel, a hand held gray telescope, a few Mr. Twister spinner packages, and a couple of beetle spins. Also included were a package of red and white bobbers and some Eagle Claw hooks. By the look on my face in the video, and the shaking of my arms up and down, (with lures in hand) you would've thought that my parents just gave me the world. I wasn't aware of it at young age of five or six, but they did just that.

Thirty seven years later, on the 22ND anniversary of my fathers passing, I find myself thinking of that little green tackle box and all that was given to me inside. It was full of so much more! Items can be lost, worn out, or replaced, but the memories of that moment and the ones that were created from it, will be a part of me forever.

My father was the son of a Chicago fireman and a loving mother. Born, lived, and raised on the city's northwest side. He was a devoted husband, a dedicated father, an administer in education. Dad was a goofball most of the time, a trait that I seem to have inherited for the better. He coached our baseball teams, drove us around in his "taxi" to all our school events, games, and jobs. He made it to all his school meetings and functions, and yet it still seemed as though he was always there to coach a game, help you with homework, watch a fishing show, or take you where you needed to go. I have had three kids. Two are Shirley's and both are now in their twenty's and my son Bryan who is eight. I can't even begin to imagine having five. I know that I am a good father, and I will thank him, and mom always, for teaching me that.

So here I sit at 42 on the threshold of starting a new business. One which will incorporate so much of what my father was all about. Hopefully giving back to others and my son, all that has been given to me. I want Cast Across America to be just like that little green tackle box. Those of you who are drawn to it and open it up will find so much more than the content we put inside. The relationships that we'll make together, the fun events and clubs that we'll share. The strengthening of family values, and the education of fishing to our fans, no matter what age. I'd like to dedicate the blog from this day forward to dad, for sharing with me all the things that I found inside that little green tackle box.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

A Classic To Remember

I backed out of the garage, headed down the driveway, over the curb and turned right. My blue Stingray beneath me, and the sound of the knobby tires contacting the asphalt below. A fishing pole in my left hand and a tackle box in the right, gripping the handle bars, and pedaling as fast as I could. About three blocks up the road, turn left, down the valley, towards the creek. It was there I'd pause for a minute or so, check the condition of the trail, before descending down the dirt hill towards my destination. Holding on tight I'd hit the trail, bounce off a few branches, dodge a few puddles and if I was lucky, build up enough speed to make it up the other side. More often then not I wouldn't make it, sliding in reverse until I would gain control, walking the bike the rest of the way. At the top I'd pause again, check to see if any cars were coming, and quickly cross the road, ditch the bike in the weeds, and quietly step my way on to the drain pipe. "Good it looks like nobody is here", I quietly whispered to myself.

Windemere was a private subdivision of beautiful homes with a long pond right in the center. The pond was about two thirds surrounded with properties and the other third was grown over with trees and brush. Dotted amongst this part were a few openings here and there, and it was here that I fell in love with Bass fishing. A Johnson century reel, a Zebco fiberglass rod, some clear blue Stren line and a Beetle spin. It was all that I needed to be content, on a warm spring afternoon. Standing on top of the drain pipe and listening to nature around me, deciding where to place that first cast. Watching intently to the splash of the lure, the wake of the spinner and hoping to feel that first bump of a largemouth on my line. If I was having a good day, I'd get that chance, to see a bass leap out of the water with my white beetle spin in it's mouth, or make a long powerful run from one side to the other. On most afternoons I'd be lucky to catch a small one, but occasionally I would hook into a good one of 12 to 14 inches. Sometimes bringing it home, placing it in a bucket of water and trying to keep it alive until my father and family could see it. I learned more from Windemere pond about bass behavior and my deep appreciation for nature, than anywhere else that I have had the pleasure of fishing.

As with most things in life, eventually Windemere came to an end. I grew up and the residents didn't like a teenager trespassing on private property. The few remaining properties were bought up and the trees were cleared to make way for more homes. I'm sure there are still some nice bass in that pond and I am fortunate enough to have experienced one of those giant bass for myself.

It was a cool day in early April and I made my way to the pond as I always did except this time I drove my car, parked before the trail, and walked the rest of the way. Upon entering one of the clearings, I saw a floating log in the water that was rolling. "That has to be a fish or a beaver moving under that log", I thought to myself. Preparing to make a cast, I grabbed my bait caster, flipped a white spinner bait just on top of the log and it slid right down into the water. The water erupted into a boil and I waited until I felt the weight of the fish before setting the hook hard. The bass showed herself quickly and she tail danced for a few seconds before I reeled feverishly to keep tension on the line. It was all over too fast and I soon stood on the bank of Windemere pond with a 21.5 inch largemouth pinched between my thumb and forefinger. Now what to do? Release her? No one would believe me. I decided that I would mount this one, and I quickly ran to the car, held the bass above my lap, and drove the three blocks to the house. Busting through the front door of your house with a wiggling bass is not an everyday occurrence, especially while your mother is in the middle of giving a piano lesson to one of her students. "Get a load of this one" I shouted. The look on my sister's and future brother in law's faces when I showed them that fish was priceless. That bass will be one of my all-time classic memories of bass fishing, and the fact that I caught it three blocks from home, makes it even better.

This past week I watched, along with many other fans, the best bass fishermen in the world, at the top of their game, competing for the Bassmaster Classic Championship. I can appreciate the struggles that some of them faced throught this year's event. Colder than average temperatures, snow, high muddy water, broken down equipment to name a few. There were some who went a whole day without a bite, or a fish or two. We saw the first woman catch a limit of bass faster than anyone else. Changing the sport forever, for the better. We also witnessed a master at his craft, systematically eliminating his opponents one by one, and proving to all of us again why he is the best bass fisherman in the world. Congratulations to Kevin VanDam on winning the 2010 Bassmaster Classic!

A tournament on Lay Lake or a casual trip to Windemere pond. There is something in it for all of us who love bass fishing. There is nothing like the feel of a good bass picking up a four inch tube bait from the center of a spawning bed, or the sound of a buzzbait being hammered as it passes by a protruding tree stump. We who fish, for sport or fun, understand this unique relationship between angler and bass. A study and understanding that is never completed, a challenge that is constantly changing, and stories that are forever unfolding. I can't wait until I place my next perfect cast. I hope it will be a classic!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Underwater Photography!

I watched the Superbowl Sunday night as I'm sure most of you did and I came away from the game and evening with a sense of pride for the Saints, the City of New Orleans, and yes even the Colts too! The game was well played with a story book ending that started way back in the center of a Hurricane named Katrina in 2005. Without a doubt, it was the shot in the arm that "The Big Easy" needed since it was left in such devastation just five short years ago. Congratulations again to the Saints! It was nice to see them get their chance at history and not disappoint the many Saints fans who have suffered for so long at the bottom of the NFL.

A final score of 31 to 17, (I predicted Saints 26, Colts 17) I had no idea at the time, that the Superbowl outcome would have such significance on my next day of fishing. What does the Superbowl have to do with fishing? I thought you would never have asked, but I am prepared with an explanation. Friday I managed to make my way out to a local forest preserve to try for a few tasty bluegills. I set up my shelter on the lake and fished hard, moving from spot to spot, from about 11:00 am until 5:00 pm, with only three dinky gills to show for it. Try try again. I went out again on Sunday from around 11:00 am until 4:00 pm and my nephew Tyler and I picked up a few dinky bluegills and a 6 inch bass. Try try again. I watched the game Sunday night at my brother Keith's house. While we ate and drank, the three of us started planning a fishing trip for the summer. By the time the game was over I couldn't wait to go ice fishing.

Monday morning arrived and I planned it perfectly. Shirley would drop me off at our neighborhood pond on her way to court (lead foot). She would call me from her cell phone and pick me up on her way home, after running a few errands. I got to the pond a little before 11:30 and drilled a few holes in different locations and started fishing. Now I was as determined as Drew Brees and the Saints to complete my quest for a few delicious bluegills. Around 12:15 pm or so my sister Cindy called to talk to me about her trip to the Bahamas. I wasn't catching anything yet so I was holding the phone and fishing at the same time. She got interrupted from some guys that were hammering on the back door of the foreclosed house behind her, and as a concerned neighbor she wanted to verify that they were legit, so she hung up to call the police. I went back to jigging and watching my line and she called back again. Somewhere in the next conversation, the phone slipped out of my hand, rode down my chest, bounced off of my right knee, and slid across the ice right into the hole I was fishing. It looked like a combination between a Peyton Manning perfect pass and one of Tiger Woods' miracle putts. After a few choice words and some laughs, I realized that the only thing to do now was to keep fishing.

I continued to catch a few more gills but nothing of any size. Around 2:30 pm I got a bite on my jig/spike combo and it hung on to the bait ever so slightly but it didn't feel the same as the other fish that I had caught. I set the hook lightly and the line raced off of my spool like Jeff Gordon's #24 in the Daytona 500. A few minutes later I was releasing a 14 inch largemouth bass into the icy water. Damn! No picture. Camera phone is at the bottom of the pond! Who's going to believe me? I went back to fishing, thinking I only had about 30 minutes or so until I had to leave. Wouldn't you know it I caught another one, only this time it was about 17 inches long. Damn again! No picture. The one time I don't have my camera, I catch two nice fish. Both of the bass were the biggest fish that I have ever caught while ice fishing! As always it's another story to add, to the many that I have been a part of, over my 40 years of fishing. It never gets old! Oh, by the way, the 17 points that the Colts scored, was the 17 inches of my biggest bass and the 31 points for the Saints was the combined inches of my two bass (14and 17). Did I forget to mention that I was using a gold and black jig?

Now in all this Superbowl and fishing excitement I had forgotten that the last words my sister Cindy had heard during our phone conversation was "Oh Shit!" as the phone slid like a hockey puck past a flopping Cristobal Huet. By this time the family had started to gather the search party to see if; A. I fell through the ice. B. I was mugged or C. I had dropped my phone in the water. Cindy guessed correctly! I was walking home from the pond, when she pulled up beside me to see if I was OK and offered to take me home. A great Superbowl. A great day of fishing (pictures or not). And to top it all off I get a new cell phone. I wonder if I can get one with a wrist strap?

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