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Fishing frees the mind for Spehar family

Nighttime is the right time for angler Linda “Lynn” Spehar, but she will make time anytime to fish with husband Ivan or in the annual United Way bass tournament.

Spehar has fished most of her life, enjoying saltwater trips for bluefish off the New Jersey coast, family outings and lately as a teammate in the Muransky Companies Bass Classic benefiting the United Way on Aqua Ohio’s Pine and Evans lakes.

She’s about as avid an angler as one can imagine, particularly when it comes to fishing after dark. We recently asked her to explain the “why” behind her passion for fishing.

“I love it because I can forget about life for a while. No phones. No bothers. It’s me – me and the fish,” she said. “It’s so relaxing. I love the serenity. Then when you do get a big fish, wow!”

Spehar grew up in Girard and resides today with her husband in Liberty. She works for CTW Development, owner of the Kennsington golf course and live-and-work community in Canfield, among other local developments. In fact, her going to work for Chuck Whitman included a very important perk.

“I told him my deal includes fishing in the Bass Classic with CTW as my sponsor. He said yes!”

Spehar has competed in the annual Bass Classic since 2008, teaming her first year with Hank Mattern.

“I knew nothing about bass fishing. Hank was great. He showed me how to fish plastic worms and lizards. It’s been amazing how much I’ve learned. The United Way tournament pros have taught me a lot. I’ve never won, but I did catch the biggest bass twice. I love supporting the United Way and fishing.”

Her zeal for bass fishing is an extension of her love of nighttime fishing, which she kindled while dating Ivan.

“We were big-time night fishermen, going out to Mosquito to set out lanterns and fish in the darkness for crappies, walleyes and even catfish. We’d go for hours on end, not just at Mosquito, but also Berlin, West Branch, Pymatuning and Milton. There’s something so peaceful about night fishing,” she said.

“We got married 39 years ago and continued to fish a lot on our local lakes. Then we moved to New Jersey and we’d get on charter boats to catch bluefish. I was shocked how powerful they were.”

The Spehars moved back to Ohio and soon bought their first boat, a 12-foot Sears & Roebuck aluminum skiff, then later upgraded to a Bass Tracker before she gave birth to son Dalton.

“Ivan and I, when we dated, we fished, then we taught our son how to fish. At West Branch, I remember I took a length of line off my rod and tied it to a stick. Dalton caught a bunch of sunfish and crappie. He out-fished all of us. It was one of the best days ever.”

With all the hubbub of living and working, she finds peace hanging out on the water. “Whether I catch fish or not, it doesn’t really matter. I free my mind when I go fishing. I love seeing the sun setting and the tip of my pole taking a dip.”

Spehar also gets joy from the Hubbard Conservation Club kids program annually on the Saturday of Mothers Day weekend. “They stock the pond with trout and the kids win prizes. A lot of the kids never fished before. It’s chaos, pandemonium.”

She’s a big fan of Northeast Ohio fisheries.

“Fishing around here is off the charts. I love Mosquito Lake. It’s great. But I’m not giving up my spots! We have kayaks now. I love fishing off my kayak. It’s me and the fish. There’s nothing like catching a big Mosquito catfish and having it drag you around.”

She’s looking forward to teaming up again with a local bass pro in the United Way fundraiser tournament.

“I’ve always loved fishing, but I really learned a lot quickly in the Bass Classic. For instance, I learned from pro John Breedlove about fishing with a topwater frog. I like spinning rods and John was worried mine wasn’t strong enough to set up on a frog bite, but he tied on a frog and sure enough I got a good one.

“Hank taught me how to bounce the worm off the bottom and the first time I caught a bass on an artificial worm I was dumbfounded. Dr. Mark McMurray showed me how to tie knots and how to rig a worm perfectly. I love my finesse worm. I like the tequila sunrise color, but my favorite color is a secret.”

You can bet Spehar will have her secret color rigged on the first Saturday in June in this year’s Bass Classic.

“I’ll be there for sure!”

Jack Wollitz is the author of “The Common Angler,” a book featuring stories about experiences that help define the “why” behind anglers’ passion for fishing. Email Jack at jackbbaass@gmail.com.

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