Category Archives: Dear Ken

Dear Ken – Woman wants to Fish Alone, but Should She

Dear Ken: I live in the western suburbs of Chicago. Twenty years ago, when I was ten, my dad got me out fishing on the Fox River and some of its creeks. Over the years we’ve also fished a number of other rivers and creeks throughout Illinois. I don’t want to call it an addiction, but I enjoy fishing these waters more than any other kind.

I have more time on my hands now and would like to get out fishing a lot more often than the couple of times a month I’m doing at the moment. Problem is, finding someone to go with me. Getting other women interested in fishing like this has been like pulling teeth and I’ve given up on them. My husband likes to go those couple of times a month, but doesn’t show much interest in going more than that.

I’ve been reading your adventures out on the rivers and creeks over the years and you mentioned that you fish alone 95 percent of the time. I like your attitude about not having to rely on others to get out fishing and you just go when you feel like it.

Is fishing alone something you think a woman should do? From a personal safety standpoint, I’ve taken numerous self defense classes and feel confident that I can handle a confrontation if I need to. Is that enough and should I just go fish?

I am Woman,
Watch me Fish

Dear Fishing Woman: The short answer — Absolutely, go fishing alone, you’ll be fine.

The long answer — It sounds like you know what you would be getting yourself into. As you know, getting out of a bathtub or driving that one mile for a gallon of milk can get you injured or killed. Your chances of that happening doing either of those are much higher than when you’re out fishing. There is simply nothing about wading rivers and creeks that is all that dangerous. No more dangerous than a walk in the woods.

Well, okay, there was that time with the geese last year, but that was partially my own damn fault.

Since you said that you’ve been reading my adventures over the years, other than falling down now and then, you probably noticed that I’ve never mentioned feeling threatened by anyone. I attribute part of that to having grown up in Chicago. I have eyes in the back of my head and a sixth sense that lets me know when something isn’t right, but even if I didn’t have those, I’ve never felt in any danger from others while out on a river or creek, ever.

Thousands of hours in the water covering hundreds of miles of rivers and creeks without a single incident from another human being. I like those odds and think you’ll experience the same.

You’ll also notice I go to areas where my chances of even running into another human being are pretty slim. What difference does it make that I’m bush whacking through the woods by myself? There were no other cars around where I parked my car. I think it’s highly unlikely that there is going to be some perv lurking a half mile away on the edge of a creek out in the middle of nowhere waiting for a lone woman angler to come wandering by. Chances are, if you do run into someone else, it’s just another fisherman. Strike up a conversation, bid each other a good day at some point and head your separate ways. It’s part of the fun.

As for self defense, that’s a good thing to have under your belt. If you do get confronted, as long as they don’t have a gun, anything goes at that point even if you have to use a branch as a club and beat them to death. It’s you or them, I prefer them.

A little bit of research on where you want to go fish will help. Just avoid the more urban areas. Pervs love urban areas because it increases their chances at being, well, a perv. Fewer people, fewer pervs, that’s just the way it works.

Speaking of pervs, since I grew up in Chicago, as a teenager I spent a lot of time on it’s fringes hanging out in the Cook County Forest Preserves. Besides being party central for teenagers, the CCFP’s are perv magnets and should be avoided at all costs. They’re not so bad on weekends because there are other people that insist on visiting them, so you can take a chance then, but never during the week. I used to do it and put up with the pervs, but one day I reached the end of my rope.

Years ago I parked in one CCFP that has Salt Creek flowing through it. The parking lot was less than 100 feet from the creek. I hiked on shore up stream and fished my way back down to the car. The creek at this point had high banks and as I came up out of the creek at the parking lot, a guy was standing next to his car. His car door was open. He was standing there in his socks. Just his socks. Choking his chicken.

I will never go to another CCFP ever again because of that, even if it meant I had to give up fishing.

So go do it, get out and go fishing alone as often as you want. Make sure your husband knows where you’ll be or at least have a general idea of where you are. Bring your phone and keep it on at all times. You’ll be just fine.

Bring your camera and take lots of pictures. When you get home, jump on your husbands lap, turn on the camera, start showing him all the pictures of the scenery and wildlife and 18 inch smallies and say… “look what you missed…”

Ending “look what you missed…” with the words “ya jerk” is completely optional.


Sitting around a bar, drinking beer and doling out advice as long as it somehow relates to fishing, hunting or the great outdoors. Otherwise, I’m not all that interested.

Dear Ken – Fishing Dad at the End of His Line

Dear Ken: I have an eight year old son “Bobby” and a ten year old daughter “Susie.” I’ve been trying to get Bobby and Susie interested in going fishing with me for the last few years and I seem to have hit a wall in their interest.

Three years ago I bought them both some really nice spinning gear outfits. They’re ulltrasensitive and have extremely lightweight TR97 graphite rod blanks. They have stainless steel guide frames with titanium inserts, as well as a soft-touch comfort grip for all-day casting comfort…

I’m at my wits end in how to get them interested in going out fishing. I’d like to have them as fishing buddies as I get older and spend more time out chasing any brutes that swim, but I’m out of ideas on how to get them to want to eagerly come along on these Hawg Hunts. You got any suggestions for me?

BassMaster Bill,
The Hawg Hunter

Dear BM Bill: Well, about three sentences into your three paragraph long technical specs on fishing gear, lures and your boat, I was awakened by my forehead slamming into my keyboard in some bizarre narcoleptic reaction to what I was reading. After I wiped up all the blood, sealed the cut shut with some Super Glue and sucked down 24 ounces of black coffee, I was able to finish reading your letter.

I hope you don’t mind that I cut out most of those three paragraphs so my dear readers don’t suffer the same fate as I.

That being said, if this is the way you approach fishing with your kids and this is what you talk about while out with them, no wonder they cringe at the thought of going with you. I wouldn’t go with you if this is what I had to look forward to. You couldn’t be doing a better job of sucking all the fun out of fishing if you tried.

Kids like to play, get dirty, run around, play with bait, don’t care about fish size and basically go out and have fun. You, Bill, have turned into the Black Hole of Fishing Fun.

First and foremost you have to get your kids interested in fishing and catching fish. Take all that equipment that you so painfully described in excruciating detail and pack it all up and put it in storage in a corner of your garage somewhere.

Now go buy three cheap Zebco spincast combos paired with some Model 33 reels. You need three of them because even you are going to fish with one Bill, so deal with it, accept it and move on. While you’re out shopping pick up a few packages of Size 10 Snelled Hooks, some bobbers, a package of small snap swivels and some small split shot. Below is a picture in case you’ve forgotten what these things look like.

The first time your kids stand there waving their rods around in the air, you’ll come to appreciate this set up. It’s much quicker to cut off the snell after they’ve wrapped it around their pole a few times. Cut it off, undo the snap swivel, put on another snelled hook and you’re ready to go back to fishing. One small split shot a foot above the hook and a bobber another foot or two higher and you’re ready for panfish action.

That’s right, bluegills, green sunfish, maybe some crappie and anything else willing to hit. Kids don’t care about bass, brutes, hawgs or whatever you want to call them. They just want to feel something tugging on the end of their line.

Don’t forget bait. You can have some fun and let the kids get all dirty by letting them go dig up night crawlers by themselves, it’s part of the fishing process. You definitely want to pick up a couple of containers of wax worms or maggots. Maggots are far superior to anything for panfish. If you go with the night crawlers, you’re only going to be using about a half inch of one at a time. Once they get over the gross out factor, kids get a big kick out of cutting them up to more fish bite sized pieces.

Find a pond in a park, forest preserve or subdivision and make sure it has plenty of space for the kids to run around. They have an attention span shorter than they are and chances are they’ll fish for ten minutes and run around for ten minutes. It’s just what they do so let them do it.

Like I said, maggots are the best and you want to pile 4 or 5 of them on a hook. For shits and grins, keep a few under your tongue and when you go to bait a hook, make sure the kids see where you’re getting them from. The dry heaving doesn’t last long, so don’t worry about the kids, they’ll be fine.

When you do catch fish, which you will if you do what I say, every fish is a big fish to them. If it hangs over each side of their little hand, then to them it will be a Monster Fish and you should tell them that. Let them touch the fishes eyeball, rub their scales and even kiss them before putting them back. The fish will be just fine.

After an hour, call it quits. Chances are they’re already getting bored and they’ll only start whining if you insist on keeping them there cause the bite is hot. Now it’s time to go do the best thing you can do on a fishing trip, stuff them full of any kind of high fat content food they want.

That’s right, hot dogs with everything, cheese burgers, large fries, large cheese fries, chocolate shakes, chocolate cake shakes and anything else that might sound disgustingly good. When you’re all done stuffing yourselves you can all lean back in your chairs, patting your bellies and tell yourselves this was one heluva good day of fishing.

And you’d be right.

As the years go on and the kids are still interested, you can pull that other stuff out of storage and put it to use. Don’t be surprised though 15 years from now when your kids tell you to get out the old Zebcos so you can go do some panfishing at the pond. It will have nothing to do with the fishing at that point and everything to do with what greasy spoon you’ll be hitting when you’re done, so make sure you have that lined up ahead of time.

Sitting around a bar, drinking beer and doling out advice as long as it somehow relates to fishing, hunting or the great outdoors. Otherwise, I’m not all that interested.

Dear Ken

Dear Ken: My wife and I have been together for 25 years and married for 20 of those. We have three wonderful kids all in their late teens. We love each other, respect each other and have a lot of common interests that we enjoy doing together.

Our sex life was never hot and heavy, once a week or so at the beginning, but for the past 15 years it’s been virtually non-existent. I’ve done everything I could possibly think of to change things around, but nothing seems to work.

I am at the end of my rope on this. I don’t know where to go from here. Should I continue to struggle to make our sex life a reality, or would I be better off going out fishing?

I’m the only one holding the rod,
maybe I should go fish with it.

Dear Rod: Years ago a well known advice columnist took a sex survey geared toward her female readers. The response was astronomical, but I can no longer remember if it was 20 thousand or 50 thousand. Either way, survey takers world wide would kill for those kinds of numbers.

50 percent of the respondents said that they would be perfectly content to never have sex again. It sounds to me like you married onto the wrong side of the percentages.

At this point you have a few options. The one you should rule out immediately is cheating on your wife. Nothing good will come of that. If having a sex life is that important to you, then leave her and start over.

Which brings up divorce. Sounds to me like the two of you get along fine except for the lack of sex. Divorce will just make a mess out of things. They never go well. There’s a good chance you’ll wind up broke and all the things you’ve worked hard for will go away, including most of your fishing gear. You’re kidding yourself if you think she’s going to let you walk away without making you miserable somehow. You’re kids will never understand since they only see the two of you as getting along. One of you will become the bad guy and I’ll bet it won’t be her.

Since you get along, you can simply accept the fact that you’re her companion and that’s all you’ll ever be. I’ll bet she’s not even aware of your frustration, everything is fine in her eyes. She’s got a companion to grow old with and keep her company, what more could she want? You’ve got all these things you’ve accumulated for the past 25 years, good times with your wife, memories of things you’ve done with your kids that will last a life time and 95 percent of your life probably isn’t too shabby.

Can you live with that?

The thing you have to do immediately is stop trying. Stop doing anything you’ve been doing that you thought might get yourself some. It’s not going to happen. You didn’t do anything wrong and you can’t do anything right to change the situation. She’s not interested in sex and that’s that. Quit wasting time thinking… if only I did this, if only I did that… you’re just wasting brain cells that would be better off thinking about fishing.

And yes, you should go out fishing. You’re change of attitude about having to please your wife in the hopes for sex should free up a fair amount of time. I’ll bet you go grocery shopping with her, don’t you? Well, stop that. She knows how to drive and I’ll bet she can lift up to 20 pounds and knows how to push a shopping cart. You know how pathetic guys look following wives around pushing shopping carts. Look at the guys faces the next time you pass one. They’re just like you, hoping they’re earning getting laid points, but their expression will tell you they even know they’re wasting their time.

That’s three hours of your life you could be out fishing. Besides, you don’t see her climbing up on the roof with you to clean out gutters, or getting up on a ladder to paint the house, or cutting the lawn, or shoveling the snow, do you? It’s a trade off, you do what you can do and she can go do what she can do by herself. You don’t need to be there.

Speaking of things you need to do, start looking at just that. How many of the things that you do around the house need to get done while the sun is out? The floors don’t care what time it is when they get cleaned. Neither does the bathroom. I never do laundry while the sun is shining and you shouldn’t either.

Doing household work while the sun is shining is a waste of perfectly good fishing time. The rivers and creeks are flowing along at normal levels. Smallmouth bass are busting minnows on the surface. Great blue herons are stalking the shore lines and deer are coming off the islands to warm up in the sun. Why in the hell would you want to be in a house cleaning a fucking toilet while all this is going on?

The toilet can wait.

One last thing, get a subscription to Playboy or Penthouse. They may come in hand for those days where you really wanna get yourself some.


Sitting around a bar, drinking beer and doling out advice as long as it somehow relates to fishing, hunting or the great outdoors. Otherwise, I’m not all that interested.