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Opinion: ROGER WILTZ: Uncle Bob is expert tuber

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opinion Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

On the morning of April 6, Jerry and I were fishing in the boat ramp basin beneath the dam at Pickstown with 16 other nearby boats. I don't mind not catching fish, but when all the other boats are enjoying success with nice walleyes, it bothers me. Such was the case that morning.

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Whatever was wrong, both Jerry and I were doing it.

I'd always enjoyed success other springs. I had to be doing something differently. What that something was finally occurred to me. Early last summer I switched all of my reels to Fireline. I liked its toughness, limpness, and especially its high visibility.

I like to watch my line for pick-ups, and my aging eyes could no longer see monofilament very well. I not only switched to higher visibility, I switched to bright chartreuse.

I could certainly see my line, but so could those finicky spring walleyes. Unfortunately, I didn't have mono on my extra spool.

There was a bright spot as I caught a huge buffalo that was so stubborn that I thought I had hooked the bottom for awhile. Enjoy the rough fish. They fight just as hard or harder.

Those guys on TV's "In Fisherman" catch bass, walleye, muskie, northern and catfish, but they also go after carp. Seize the moment and enjoy yourself.

For most of my life, I've been short on uncles. My father had no brothers and my mother's only brother died at too young an age from inhaling too much asbestos while building ships in Newport News, Va. So back on June 12, 1965, when I married Betsy, I inherited an uncle who, for almost 46 years, has been known to the both of us as Uncle Bob.

For all the years I've known Uncle Bob, he's lived in Huron -- not bad, but not exactly a mecca for ardent anglers. But Uncle Bob is an enthusiastic angler who makes the best of the waters that surround Huron. He also traveled to find fish and I vividly recall his exploits on Saskatchewan's Lac la Ronge in the early days. I then wondered if I would ever get that far north. It motivated me.

Why am I telling you about Uncle Bob?

Because we can learn something from him. As I approach 70 years, I am still an avid fisherman. Because of my numb legs (peripheral neuropathy), I wrestle with getting my boat in and out of the water. Perhaps many guys my age have difficulty getting the boat in and out -- especially when alone. So, other than bank fishing, is there a Plan B for all anglers when the boat isn't an option?

Bob will tell you there is.

For many years, Uncle Bob has been a highly successful tube fisherman. In my 40 years of columns, I've never written about tubes.

We are talking about a glorified inner tube, large or small, that is covered with canvas. The tube floor has leg holes and sewn on the sides are pockets for tackle, tools, lunch, water, etc.

Add a rod and landing net holder. A comfortable back rest completes the tube. Retractable fins or paddles can be added to one's feet for propulsion. This tube can easily be slid into a lake or river from the trunk of a car or the back of an SUV or pickup. It can also be inflated at the scene.

Uncle Bob, who is 80-something, does 95 percent of his summer fishing within 50 miles of Huron. Miller's Lake Louise has been one of his favorites over the years. Uncle Bob and Aunt Barb winter in Florida near Fort Myers. Although the tube goes south with them, Bob gets slightly apprehensive about tubing when 12-foot alligators cruise by.

So would I.

Uncle Bob sent us some Florida fish pictures a few weeks ago. He had found a small body of water that flows into the gulf within walking distance of their condo. Could it hold fish? No one seemed interested in it.

On his first outing at the new pond, he caught some 1-to-2 pound bass. He eventually learned that these bass liked yellow Mr. Twisters and went home with a 3- and a 4-pound bass. The pond may have been too big for a boat, but his tube did just fine. I have a few places in mind where a tube might just be the thing. Thanks, Uncle Bob.

Today's column is my last before heading to Patagonia, Argentina, for a hunt with my longtime partner Doug. International flights with "must" connections, customs lines and gun transportation make me a little apprehensive.

It will be a demanding hunt on horseback in the foothills of the Andes Mountains. I hope I can handle those demands. I will hunt fallow deer first and then perhaps red stag.

We will take our own rifles -- Doug his Ruger No. 1 in .308 and me my Steyr-Mannlicher bolt-action carbine with a set trigger in .30-06. Taking rifles to foreign lands is more about money than anything else, but it's cheaper than renting rifles.

God willing, next week's column will be about Argentina. I should be home by the time you read this. Buenos dias.

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