Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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July 25, 2012

Age-old question: Where to put the leeches?

"One thing in the world I hate: leeches. Filthy little devils." —

Humphrey Bogart, "The African Queen"

As parasitic annelids go, leeches are unlovable. Unlike their earthworm cousins, a bloodsucking leech will never be the protagonist in a cutesy children's book. Leeches are compared to lawyers and Donald Trump.

However, there's one creature that loves leeches: the fisherman. For walleye anglers, the leech earns its space in the plastic cooler — even displacing imported beer. Many seasoned line flingers swear by leeches. I also utter a few choice words for the live bait that bites back.

While I can cast without hooking myself or the carotid artery of others, my fishing savvy is tied to bad knots and plastic bobbers.

My tackle box consists of very artificial looking lures, bent snap swivels and jumbled hooks. I don't rock the boat — literally or conversation wise — so there's always a standing offer to sit out in a lake and fish.

Such was the case last week when I got a call to rendezvous at a boat launch in Michigan. The instructions were simple: bring beer and leeches. It sounded like a fun night out on the lake or a "then things went horribly wrong" bachelor party. I set out for one-stop beverage and bloodsucker shopping.

Whenever I set foot in a wooden floor general store two old thoughts come to mind: pop in glass bottles tastes better and No Pressure.

As a kid I would fish the Au Sable River aboard a family friend's houseboat aptly named No Pressure. Of course the running joke was the boat's name came from its lack of pontoon flotation. Every fishing trip we stopped at a wooden floor general store for snacks, pull-tab Blatz and bait.

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