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 Tackle-Eating 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 tackle-grabbing 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 camp chair out of my trunk and grabbed one of the three ultra-light 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 Tackle-Eating 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 now-closed Kolburne School, where he enjoyed taking many of the students fishing.
Read this article in the Summer 2018 issue of Our BerkshireTimes Magazine.