Rigging in the Late Cretaceous Period
How We Invented the Stakeout Pole in 1957
I just realized that, despite never owning a Hobie or a Native, I've got over six decades of experience at rigging "pedal-powered fishing kayaks". I ran across a couple of internet articles recently about the "Cape Cod Canal Rats", a bunch of (mostly old) guys who fish "The Ditch" from tricked-out bicycles -- and, man, it was Flashback City.
This 18-second video pretty much says it all:
Other articles are here:
Growing up in Miami in the Forties and Fifties, I had a 24-inch single-speed "beach bomber" I originally used for my first newspaper route, and I soon completely tricked it out for fishing the bridges, docks, piers, seawalls, beaches and canals. Had a pair of big saddle baskets over the rear wheel and a flat center rack (where the tackle box was bolted) directly above the wheel between them. Two rod holders attached to the rear of the saddle baskets, and a huge front single basket (attached to the handlebars and braced upwards from the front axle) with two more rod holders. And I'm not just talking about riding your bike a few blocks down to Ye Olde Fishin' Hole -- we could carry enough gear to camp for a few days and do some serious fishing.
My pal Eddie and I would range some pretty incredible distances, but we were tough little fourth-generation Glades-and-Keys-raised Crackers, and nothing was like it is now. You could park your bike somewhere Friday and paddle out to an island in Biscayne Bay in a little inflatable, and the bike would still be there Sunday when you got back. You could walk around with a belt knife and nobody gave you a second look. Our parents let us fish (or shrimp) places like the Bear Cut bridge catwalk all night in the summer. They weren't irresponsible, though: they were seasoned sportfishermen, and their basic attitude was "if you can field-strip it blindfolded, you can own it and shoot it". It wasn't just that "men were men" back then, it was that if you were a boy that seriously acted like a man, you got treated like a man. We knew we could expect a visit from a beefy old cop once in a while, but they all knew us, and most of them knew our folks, and every one of us was capable of telling solid folks from walking trouble at a glance.
And, brother, that bike was a fishing machine! But, just like a fishing kayak, it not only made you put some serious thought into rigging, it made you come up with durable and effective but simple (and lightweight) solutions.
For example, one of the things you can't do with an ordinary bicycle is use the kickstand in beach sand (and you certainly don't want to lay your bike down in the stuff). Well, eventually we came up with a solution that any modern kayakfisherman would immediately recognize as a stakeout pole -- we toted a sharpened broom/mop/rake handle, and when you reached a likely spot, you pulled one rod from its holder and drove the broom handle through the holder into the sand. You could park the bike into a pretty stiff wind and it would stay upright all day.
In fact, when I got to pondering, I realized just how many similarities those days had to modern kayakfishing. We learned quick (and hard) lessons in shaving ounces versus does-the-job -- and with a lot heavier materials in general than we have now. (And we spent a lot of roadside time with wrenches, or with matches and adhesive inner tube patch kits.) And, come to think of it, it was definitely a "sit-on-top"! ^o^
But a lot of the same advantages applied, too. We could get into or onto places you couldn't with a car, and yet still bring a toadload of gear. And you could do so quietly and unobtrusively, and the whole outfit could run all day on a peanut butter sandwich.
We didn't even think about "going green" in those days (I don't think the concept, let alone the phrase, even existed -- gas was 17 cents a gallon!), but now that I cogitate on it some, I guess we were a lot "greener" than the vast majority of people are now in this modern eco-conscious age (my fellow paddlefishermen excepted, of course).
Well, maybe if kids today were allowed to do stuff like that by the Corporate Conformity Police and the Helicopter Moms, we'd have less whining babies walking around in adults' bodies. (And maybe a few of them could actually read a tape measure, too.)
Don't just teach a kid to fish, teach a kid to RIG!
"Oh, THAT scar? A pterodactyl tried to pick me off on the way to school. They say I was a handsome child before that, though."
Have rigging questions or a good idea? Found a good fishing product? Tell us about it.
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