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The Tackle-Eating Tree JUST A FANCIFUL CREATURE OF THE IMAGINATION? I THINK NOT! / By Michael Romano

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ost of us are familiar with Charlie Brown’s iconic KiteEating Tree. It’s a normal tree until poor Charlie Brown breaks out his springtime kite and manages to launch it into the air, only to have it nabbed by the branches of this evil tree. A cartoon you say . . . a fanciful creature of the imagination? I think not! Not only are these trees real, but there appears to be a variety of the same species currently in existence. Almost all fishermen have encountered the infamous Tackle-Eating Tree at some point and experienced the heartbreak of lost fishing tackle that it has devoured. Tackle-Eating Trees grow close to shoreline angling spots favored by landbound fishermen. Their branches are usually thin and wispy but if you look closely enough you will see an array of fishing equipment dangling from their limbs. Lures of all kinds, bobbers and hooks, and lines and sinkers adorn these creatures’ arms, and many have the added hazard of unseen underwater roots and fallen branches that will snag an unsuspecting fisherman’s line as they attempt to catch dinner. By the end of the summer these innocent-looking saplings resemble a Christmas tree of sorts with many colorful ornaments blowing in the breeze – expensive ill-gotten gains. One such tree is located right here in Great Barrington, MA, at the boat launch of beautiful Lake Mansfield. If one parks at the launch and looks to the right, there it is in all its glory, the TackleEating Tree. Hanging from all parts of this tree are multicolored bobbers, silver and gold lures, carved minnows, numerous shiny swivels with leaders, and sinkers and hooks still attached. The tree is too small to be climbed but large enough to hold its prey tight, so none of the equipment can be recovered. The gear hangs there as a reminder to fishermen to be aware of the tree’s tacklegrabbing potential. I myself have lost items to this shoreside entity, but the last time I got snagged, a trout (believe it or not) helped me get my lure back! I had parked at the launch one day in the early spring and was delighted to see fish breaking the surface. I knew it was probably freshly stocked trout but I got excited just the same. I took my 14

Summer 2018 | www.OurBerkshireTimes.com

camp chair out of my trunk and grabbed one of the three ultralight poles I had rigged in the car. The rod I choose had a very small Rapala lure on it. Most Rapala lures are made from carved balsa wood in the shape of a floating minnow with several sets of treble hooks on them, and can be quite pricey. I took my first cast of the year and it landed kind of where I wanted it to, but as luck would have it a breeze caught the slack line and carried it directly into the Tackle-Eating tree’s clutches. Now, I have a technique for trying to get my stuff back from TackleEating Trees that involves finesse and patience (both are qualities I sometimes lack), but I decided to give it a try in this case. You have to slowly and carefully reel the line up the tree until the lure is within a few inches of the offending branch, then you give the fishing rod a sharp wrist snap that with luck carries the lure back to you, hopefully missing your face or other vulnerable body parts. I reeled the lure slowly and it left the water, dangling just inches above the surface. Then, all of a sudden, there was a startling splash as a leaping trout latched onto the lure. He hung there suspended in midair, as confused as I was by the sudden turn of events. Then, as he started struggling he managed to pull the line off the branch and both he and the line landed back in the water. The light line went slack and he was able to slip the hook and get away. I smiled as I finished reeling my freed lure back in to shore. Karma? The Tackle-Eating Tree had had me and I had the trout, but we both got away. Thank you hero trout!, I still have my lure and an amusing tale to share! ~ Michael Romano, a Great Barrington, MA, resident for almost 40 years, is an avid fisherman who in his own words “kind of treats fishing as a contact sport and has had more than a few misadventures in the process.” He has fished many local waters and also enjoyed quite a few saltwater trips. Michael is a retired chef – he and his wife, Susan, worked for years at the nowclosed Kolburne School, where he enjoyed taking many of the students fishing.

Profile for Our BerkshireTimes Magazine

Our BerkshireTimes Magazine, Summer 2018  

Our BerkshireTimes Magazine is your resource for local events, community news, and vibrant living in the Berkshire region of Massachusetts....

Our BerkshireTimes Magazine, Summer 2018  

Our BerkshireTimes Magazine is your resource for local events, community news, and vibrant living in the Berkshire region of Massachusetts....

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