Our Pledge To You


Passing it on: Fishing tradition

Patrick Curran picked the right spot to try to learn to fish river smallmouth bass.

Last week, he drove to the famed area around the Warner Bridge on the Kankakee River.

Then reality came.

He is not an experienced fisherman by any definition. None of us were born experienced fishermen. It is a journey and needs to be looked at in that context, taught in that context.

“I went out to the Kankakee River State Park to drown some worms and was having a pretty hard time with it until another friendly fisherman lent me a hand,’’ Curran emailed. “His name was Mr. Minas. He helped me learn the improved clinch knot and then set my hook up with some nice bait. After all of this he helped me to improve my casting and even reset my reel to a left hander’s configuration that would be more comfortable for me.’’

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMr. Minas is Norm Minas, one of the most notable and frequent of Kankakee River fishermen. Shown here from two years ago on Blackberry Creek.

I checked Curran’s story with Minas.

He said he couldn’t help but help when he saw Curran’s difficulties tying on a crankbait. To somebody like Minas, there was no choice. He had to help.

For somebody with Minas’ experience, there were tweaks, such as unscrewing the handle on the reel and switching it to the other side so it was a left-handed reel. Most spinning reels have that option now. Minas threw in a few casting instructions and Curran went to it.

“After shooting the breeze for a few and with a noted improvement to my casting, bam, I finally felt the tug of a fish at the end of my line, as Mr. Minas said, `I’m now hooked,’ ’’ Curran emailed.

He caught and released his first river smallmouth bass.

“It made me feel good,’’ Minas said. “That is what you are supposed to do. Be nice to somebody. Just pass it on some day.’’

Sounds like a line from “Pass It On,’’ the classic Gospel song. In this sense it was a sort of spiritual lifting on the secular side: “It’s fresh like spring/You’ll want to pass it on.’’

(Good Lord, I can go on.)

Minas and I then drifted into a discussion on teaching fishing and enjoying the outdoors.

My theory is that if fishermen or outdoors men and women took care of those immediately around them, their kids and their friends, passing on fishing and outdoor experiences would take care of itself. The disconnect from the outdoors, that much discussed disconnect, is there in a break by the adults in no longer working joyfully at passing it on.

That’s the context in which I was glad to hear this from Curran, “I’m looking forward to many more fishing adventures and hope that someday I can help some other 21 year-old city slicker to find his way.’’

Sometimes a fish is just a fish.

Some times, it is a bass with a past and a future.

* * * *

Notes and calendar from the Sunday outdoors page of the Sun-Times.


Tuesday: Informational Open Houses for Waterfowl Hunters, by IDNR, Des Plaines SFWA, Wilmington, 5-8 p.m.


Tuesday: Sarah Zack on aquatic invasives, Salmon Unlimited, Elk Grove Village VFW,, 7 p.m., salmonunlimitedinc.com

Tuesday: Sean Bermingham on bait modification, Chicagoland Muskie Hunters chapter of Muskies Inc., Park Ridge VFW, 7:30 p.m., (847) 677-0017 or dlrosset@sbcglobal.net

Wednesday: Guide Ryan McMahon, Fox River Valley chapter of Muskies Inc., Schaumburg Golf Club, 7 p.m., frvmuskie.com

Wednesday: Jim Tostrud on slab crappie, Lake Geneva Fishing Club, 6:30 p.m., Cabela’s, Hoffman Estates, lakegenevafishingclub.com

Thursday: Jay Garstecki, guide and founder of Take a Vet Fishing, Riverside Fishing Club, LaGrange American Legion, 6:30 p.m., RiversideFishingClub.com


June 4 and 6: Harvard, mchenryilhs@gmail.com

June 11 and 13: Millington, (815) 210-4995


Thursday: Turkey, fifth season, north, ends


20: Years that the 2-pound, 1/4-ounce perch, caught by Ken “The Lakefront Lip’’ Schneider on his 50th birthday on May 7, 1995, has stood as the heaviest verified (weighed at Jewel and Dominick’s) perch caught off Chicago (with Chuck Weis at Chicago Light)