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Anglers and journalists can’t take their tools for granted

Anglers have their lures, technicians have their tools and golfers have their clubs. It’s impossible to fish, repair or golf without them.

Writers have tools, too, chief among them the keyboard on which they tap out the messages that are rattling around in their brains.

As an angler and a writer, I speak from experience when I say that it’s easy to take lures and keyboards for granted. They are always there, ready for the call to duty.

They are there, that is, unless misfortune strikes – and that is when we realize we have taken our tools for granted.

All of this came into focus recently when I opened my laptop computer and it failed to boot up to perform the tasks I expect it to do. I tried this and I tried that, but nothing worked. I phoned a couple buddies who know much more about the digital world than me. Their suggestions made sense, but still the laptop refused to cooperate.

A boat without a broken engine is considered dead in the water. That was my predicament, too, as I came to realize that I was not going to meet my weekly obligation to the readers of the Tribune Chronicle and Vindicator.

Who can blame me for taking my computer for granted. I’ve written more than 1,700 columns over the past 34 years and I have failed to produce only three times. That’s how reliable my keyboards have been. The malfunctioning computer put the kibosh to last week’s column. By Monday, however, my MacBook Pro was back in action. To celebrate, I made plans to go fishing Tuesday. You know, I do have to do my “research.”

So I hitched up the boat trailer Tuesday morning and drove out to Lake Milton to take a swing at the smallmouth bass. Springtime smallies are perhaps my most favorite fish of the year, and Milton is a great place to catch them.

By late morning, I’d plucked a half dozen smallies from the rocky banks that rim the lake north of Interstate 76.

Satisfied that I’d figured out the shallow-water pattern, I reached into the Bass Cat’s rod locker for my cranking stick so I could drag deeper water in search of bigger bass. Then I rummaged around in the center compartment where I stow my lure boxes.

To my dismay, the box in which I store my crankbaits was nowhere to be found. There would be no crankbait fishing Tuesday for me.

The shallow water smallmouth bass bite seemed to be done for the day, but I lacked the tools to explore the mid-depth where the fish probably had retreated.

Funny thing is that box of crankbaits is almost always in the center locker of my boat. It is always ready. I actually take for granted that just about any lure I will ever need is in my boat. They are there, even when I don’t need them.

But Tuesday the crankbait box was on the shelf next to where I park the boat in the garage.

Lures and keyboards. After the events of last week, I’ll never take them for granted again.

Jack Wollitz’s book, “The Common Angler,” dives into the highs and lows that combine to make fishing a passion for so many people. He appreciates emails from readers. Send a note to jackbbaass@gmail.com.

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