Making use of the mild winterPublished 1:26pm Saturday, February 4, 2012
Here it is in February already and we have await the return of that once-a-year meteorologist, Punxsutawney Phil, who told us we’re having six more weeks of winter. I am no weather man but it sure feels like it’s been spring for most of the winter.considerably
Like so many of us die-hard Minnesotans, I am waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop. I know most of us feel in the back of our minds that we will pay dearly for this unseasonably warm winter weather that we have been experiencing. All that I can say is savor the moment and enjoy.
Last weekend was actually a perfect one for outdoors activities. The parks were open and temperatures were in the 20s so conditions were perfect for some outdoors activities like skating or fishing. It was a great time for a little ice fishing and my grandson, Trevor, asked his grandpa if he’d like to do a little fishing on Saturday afternoon. I jumped at the offer and was rewarded not as much by the fish but by the opportunity to spend some quality time with my oldest grandson.
I told Trevor that he was paying me back for all the times that I had taken him, his brother and cousin fishing at the channel or other places on Fountain Lake. Most of my time was spent retrieving bobbers from tree branches or trying to horse a sunken tree branch out of the bottom of the lake without breaking the line. This was all part of the learning experience for the grandkids, not to mention grandpa.
There were times when I didn’t understand why they couldn’t just cast it out and leave it alone until the fish were willing to bite. Trevor was never satisfied with that as he always had to be casting or changing lures at even a young age. Luckily he didn’t listen to Grandpa that much because he has indeed turned into quite a fisherman.
For quite a few years, before buying our land up north, he would go with me to the camper that we kept on Lake Tetonka. He was always fishing but if he went over to the lake on his own he had to always wear his life jacket and even then there was a good chance that he would come back with at least wet feet. He was never satisfied to sit on the dock and fish. He’d try to make his way along the shore looking for that perfect fishing hole.
When we first had our place up north Trevor, his grandma and I made quite a few trips up there. He and I would usually be the ones that went fishing but his grandma also went along on quite a few of our excursions to different lakes. One of the most memorable was on a little lake not too far from our place where grandma caught about an 8-pound northern, and I think Trevor was as excited for her as she was to catch it. Although I’ve caught muskies in the 20-pound class I’ve never caught a northern leager than 9 pounds This fall Trevor surpassed my family record with a 10-pound-plus pike.
There are times when I think back to my childhood and remember how I would dream about going up north fishing or of going to some remote wilderness lake in search of fish that had not seen another living person. The stories and articles that I read in various outdoors magazines always kept my dreams alive, especially during the winter months. My only ice fishing experiences as a youth were when the folks would take me to Beaver or St. Olaf Lake for their annual ice fishing contests. The folks would drop me off at the contest, and Mom would make sure that I was set up and before they made their escape to the store/tavern to socialize with friends. My mother would stop back periodically to check on me to see how I was doing and make sure I was okay.
Back then there were no snowmobile boots, just five-buckle overshoes, chopper mittens, long johns, snow pants and a parka which were the warmest clothes I had. There was no such thing as Thinsulate or Gortex just layers of cotton and wool. After a couple of hours on the ice my feet would start to tingle, and once they got chilled you may as well call it a day because the cold would go all the way through. The sacrifice was well worth it however because if you were lucky you might just land a 5- or 6-inch perch, which wouldn’t do much for your place in the contest but at least it was a fish.
It’s funny, but understandable, how a fish of any size can seem like a trophy to a kid. Kids don’t have to catch that record fish they just need to catch fish. I guess I was reverting back to my childhood the other day when fishing with Trevor because catching just a couple of small perch while spending quality time with my oldest grandson felt awfully good to me. It was a great time fishing on Fountain Lake with him and I think it made me feel a little younger, almost like that kid again. That is just another great memory that I will always have to cherish.