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Memories help Berlin return to 2020 plans

Winter is the season for the strategic planning meetings I conduct with myself after a busy year of fishing on all of my favorite waters.

Perhaps in your business, strategy meetings are contentious. Mine are not. It’s just me, myself and I working through the trends, conditions and competition to determine objectives and goals.

Successful strategists know assessment is important so we can understand where it happened and where it did not. So it was with me this week as I looked back on the past year or two and ahead to what I hope to achieve in 2020.

In the process, I discovered a gaping hole. Berlin Reservoir was missing in action.

For many reasons, Berlin is not my favorite lake. Nevertheless, it is special to me, rather like the weird relative who can be fun for an hour or two but who is not someone we’d invite on a month-long vacation.

Given a list of options for a day of fishing, I would hardly ever pick Berlin. On any given day, I would opt for Mosquito, Pymatuning, Shenango, Erie and even the Ohio River before I’d hitch up the boat and tow to Berlin.

But all of this is based on criteria that aren’t always the true measure of success on the water.

It is easy to find fault with Berlin. It is usually overcrowded. Its water level fluctuates too much. It lacks vegetation and its wood cover is deteriorating. It tends to fish small and the water color often is dingy. The fish often don’t seem to be much inclined to bite.

Other than that, Berlin is not a terrible place.

Berlin is the first place I recall going night fishing. I was probably only 5 years old, but I still have the image of a hissing Coleman lantern hanging over the side of the boat to attract baitfish while my father and uncle dangled live minnows under bobbers for crappies.

Berlin is where I learned the magic of spitting on a gob of nightcrawlers to make them more tempting to catfish, thanks to coaching from the elders in our fishing group one hot July night.

Berlin is where I first experienced the thrill of a high-speed boat ride, although that 35-hp outboard certainly was a slowpoke compared to the big Merc powering my BassCat today.

Berlin is where Barb and I caught a bucket of yellow perch one day and were half of a foursome to reel in more than 50 walleyes on a May weekend in 1977.

Berlin is where I first witnessed the catch of a muskie exceeding 40 inches and where I caught my first ever 4-pound smallmouth.

Berlin is a place where I learned the value of perseverance and attention to detail when fishing is tough.

Considering all that and more, the fact Berlin has been MIA is just wrong. It will never be my favorite lake, but it really is special. My 2020 schedule definitely will include a return to the lake where many fishing memories were made.

See you out there.