I read before I go to sleep, and when I am learning a new technology, or when I am looking up how to fix something, or if it is my kid's phenomenal school story about his camping trip. But I don't tend to read casually. If I have a bit of time to kill, I am doing something - fishing, coaching, creating, kidding around, or just plain sleeping.
But there is one book I've kept by my side since I first got a hold of it. In fact I called the author, Dick Pearson
, when I heard some hard copies were being published. I caught him just in time and got 6 top-numbered editions, one for each of my best buddies who've made our annual (now bi-annual, darn family life!) Canadian muskie fishing trip a grand tradition. That's pretty hard-core for someone not in a book club.
When we began hunting muskie, the internet was not common, and its content meager. I ran across a few muskie books at the library and at used bookstores, but never was overly enthralled by any. Then we discovered "Muskies on the Shield
". Now we just call it "MOTS", making it easier to reference in our 15-hour-a-day hunts.
MOTS hits home on a different level than books focusing solely on lures, rods, reels, boats, and all the other gadgets that apparently make it easy to catch the legend. MOTS, to put it simply, is more zen-like. It is less about how to cast and retrieve, and more about the nature of the fish and its environment.
It is where I learned about structure and species seasonality. It simplified things a bit more. Instead of thinking "OK cloudy skies, I've got to throw on thingamajig with a grape-colored body and fluted this and that," it got me thinking about where the fish would be and what they'd be doing. It got me thinking about water temperature, water clarity, hunting the hunter, and above all - paying attention to what was going on in nature.
FishExplorer.com was born in part because of this book. Wanting to hunt muskies in Colorado, I needed to know several things that Dick discusses, like:
- Which lakes have muskie?
- What are the water temperatures?
- What is the forage base and makeup of the lake?
- What is the barometer doing?
- And so on....
Thus, the website began. I met Dick at a muskie show in Chicago a few years ago. We were fishing a new lake and had brought a big map. I approached him at the show and asked if he could look it over with us, and to my surprise he agreed! Over lunch, we huddled around him talking about the lake's structure, and soaked in some wisdom. It was a highlight of my fishing life. He's not just a lawyer-turned-muskie-legend/author, but a modest, kind and helpful man who then went on to announce his "retirement" from his fishing career that afternoon in front of a crowd, breaking down as he spoke of his supportive wife and life chasing muskie.
MOTS plays more of a role than just fishing for muskie. I draw upon its content when I am fly fishing for wiper, walleye, bass, etc. It taught me to focus less on switching flies or lures, and more on focusing on where the fish and their food are located. It is likely the reason I tend to stubbornly stick with one fly most of the time.
If I had to take one book with me stranded on a Canadian island, this would be it. It is the only book I have read more than twice, and each time I read it I pick up on new things. I consider it a foundation book, one you have to read so you can make sense of everything else if you care to read anything else.