My eccentric fishing companions

Unhinged Alaska

Although angling for me so far has been about as spectacular as watching a sea slug race, I still enjoy the company of my two best fishing partners Thrasher and Grunge. Thrasher is my ancient rod and Grunge is what some of my more sarcastic associates call my tackle box.


It's easy to figure out how Thrasher got its name if you've ever scrutinized my dramatic casting skills. I had initially called it The Club until I found out my buds had started a rumor that I was using an anti-car theft device as a fishing pole.

If I remember right, Grunge picked up the tag because of its moldy green appearance which is a possibility since it was bright orange when I bought it. Or it might have derived from the rather unique odor it emanates when things start warming up. The bouquet might have something to do with the home-cured eggs I keep forgetting to remove each fall or the squid parts and a misplaced egg salad sandwich.

I can't deny that it can be a bit malodorous. So if I'm fishing adjacent to others who start giving me strange looks I blame the fetid smell on my sleeping hound Howard who tends to reek like a backed-up septic tank after a few rolls in stuff on the beach. Thus, I'm socially forgiven and usually offered free beer while being sensitively queried as to how long my dog has been dead.

Grunge is the quintessential tackle box. I've had it so long that there are unused lures lurking within that I haven't got a clue as to what I was going to use them for unless it was to test salmon for a sense of humor. Plus it contains an over-priced manly multipurpose emergency tool that can either dislodge a fish hook from a salmon shark's jaws or fine-tune an ocean-going ferry.

I was going to clean it out once and hold a garage sale with the contents but gave up when I realized it would take a couple of weeks just to get the gear unstuck and/or separated. Turk suggested that I could have sped things up by using mild explosives, while Willie figured I should just give everybody a break and "bury the sludge bucket with the backhoe".

I don't think my tackle box is any more repugnant than some of the ones I've seen my fellow fisherpersons use. In fact, there was a guy out at a fishing spot last year who kept smacking something (or things) inside his box with a hefty stick to keep it or them from squirming out. He was a visitor from the Deep South and since they're known to throw some pretty gross goo at the bass and catfish down there, no one would go within 10 yards of him. I don't know what it was he was trying control and never want to, but I'm going to try that "Bubba and the stick" trick this year with Grunge and see if I can't get a little more elbow room at my favorite holes.

While I'm talking about my tackle, I'd like to add that there are some inconsiderate and snobby self-proclaimed fishing savants who have made derogatory remarks about my old pole-n-pal, Thrasher. Admittedly he has corroded eyes and a worn cork handle that's only a duct tape covered memory but when I've been able to get his reel to work, he's managed to help haul up whatever I've snagged or hooked into without splitting apart for the last 20 years.

Ol' Thrasher has taken on lake trout, kings, mean-tempered Lings, huge halibut, and unseen things that would probably have eaten the boat if the line hadn't snapped before the prehistoric bottom feeding mutant made it to the surface.

It's a fact that the antiquated rig is prime-time ugly and has as many nicks and scars as a journeyman boxer but that elderly pole has more character and longevity in its bent butt end than a dozen graphite, megabuck, wiener rods the self-professed pros pose with. 

Thrasher and Grunge are a natural gruesome twosome that I wouldn't trade for anything. That's a blatant lie of course. I may be nostalgic but I'm not a total loser. I'll probably have them forever. Why? Because there's nobody out there dense enough to steal them.
Nick can be reached at if he and his tackle buddies aren't wandering around the waterways embarrassing themselves.


2 peninsula students earn Safari Club scholarships

Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula Chapter of Safari Club International wishes to recognize the accomplished young people who earned $4,000 scholarships this year, presented at the May... Read more

Enjoy the nerdy hand-me-downs

It’s been 27 years since I graduated from high school — and at least that long since a high school kid called me a nerd.... Read more

I just ran 10 miles for fun

I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into with the Run for the River this year.

Read more