Learning from fishing magazines

When I was a kid there was almost nothing I wanted to get my hands on more than fishing magazines. My Grandpa had saved a bunch of old magazines from the 70’s and 80’s and I used to pour over those issues, reading many of them multiple times. I also tried to get any current magazines that I could by any means possible.  

Sometimes I would spend a day cutting grass or shoveling snow for our neighbours so I could buy the latest magazines on the store shelves, like The In-Fisherman or Ontario Out of Doors. I even went so far as to walk around our neighbourhood with a little wagon asking folks they had any old fishing magazines laying around that they wanted to give away. I got hooked up a few times but I’m sure most people probably thought I was weird. 

As I grew up through the 90’s and 2000’s, fishing magazines were where I would learn about new techniques and tactics to catch fish. Even then, bass were my favourite but there was great information out there on all species, even ice fishing. Many of the well-known writers from that era have retired but there are still a few that are still going strong today, including Gord Pyzer from Kenora who had a big influence on my career in the fishing community and on the writing that I have done. 

One of the subjects that still stands out for me today that I learned from these magazines was the effectiveness of jigging spoons for ice fishing for walleye. Growing up around Lake of the Woods, we used a jig and minnow for ice fishing, it’s what everybody used. The thing was, most articles about ice fishing for walleye were all about using spoons tipped with a minnow head and figuring out the right jigging sequence to trigger strikes. It seemed like more fun to me to make a spoon dance and try to trick a walleye into biting it. I started using spoons when I was a teenager and have used them pretty much exclusively ever since, catching thousands of walleyes on them. I will write about this topic in next week’s column.  

Growing up, Jeff Gustafson learned much of his fishing knowledge from reading fishing magazines.

With the Internet and the popularity of social media today the landscape for print media and magazines has gotten a lot tougher. They are expensive to produce and advertisers are finding it cheaper and maybe more effective to reach consumers through the Internet in many cases. It kind of makes me sad because I have so many good memories from my magazines but there are still some good ones out there. I’m also a big fan of print newspaper as well, I just like a hard copy in my hand more than I like reading on a screen, am I old school?  

The great thing about magazines, especially the ones that have been around for decades is that they offer more credible information in many cases than what you find online. The print publications pay better than websites do typically, attracting the best writers. The career writers who have a good reputation are going to give you good information through their own knowledge and through the sources they use.  

If you enjoy fishing and learning about fishing, consider subscribing to the fishing magazine you enjoy the most or just pick up a new copy from time to time at the news stands. If you don’t support them, eventually they are going to go away.