Introducing the youngest family member to the outdoors

Published 5:59pm Saturday, June 30, 2012

This past week my wife, Jean, and I headed up to our cabin, and this was going to be a special trip that we were really looking forward to.

What made this trip extra special was that our son Brad was bringing our little granddaughter Emma up to the cabin for the very first time.

It had rained pretty much nonstop the day that they arrived and continued for part of the next, but that didn’t seem to dampen her excitement of being at the cabin for the first time. I don’t really know who was more excited about the visit, Emma or Grandma and Grandpa.

Her dad and Grandma took her out in the paddle boat on our lake for the first time and grandma helped her catch fish with her Barbie pole.

The next day we took our fishing boat and headed to an area lake where I soon discovered that Emma liked it when we were going fast across the water.

She caught the first fish, with grandma’s help, but she decided right away that it was more fun to play with minnows than to fish.

After she had caught her fish and her dad had caught a couple, old Grandpa was starting to get just a little nervous, but eventually I caught fish, and we all enjoyed a good day. To Grandpa and Grandma the fishing was great, not because of fish caught, but because we had taken Emma on her first extended fishing excursion. She was really good in the boat and never really asked to go in until the very end. I think that we might just have another fisherman in the family.

Once she arrived at the cabin it took Emma no time at all to start enjoying the outdoors. She really liked feeding peanuts to the chipmunks, and it wasn’t long before she was petting them. That was fun to watch, but when she made a move to pick one up, we all yelled at the same time.

I do believe that she was the only one who wasn’t worried about getting bit.

When we decided to have a campfire she helped her dad carry wood to the fire pit. Grandma had the fixins for s’mores and I think that Emma had as much marshmallow on her face as she did in her little tummy.

It sure was great to spend time in the outdoors with our youngest grandchild, and it’s a great feeling to be able to share the outdoors experience that we all enjoy so much. I know that Emma really liked it at the cabin because when it came time to pack up and go home she didn’t want to leave.

For quite a few years I had a camper parked at Best Point Resort on Lake Tetonka where I was able to enjoy one of our area’s finest resources. It seems that no matter what time of the year it was you could always catch fish on that lake.

We have a valuable resource right here at home, but there are many great places to camp within a 50-mile radius.

This is what makes this state so great for anyone that enjoys the outdoors.

The Department of Natural Resources has issued the following news release regarding Lake Tetonka and other lakes in that watershed:

A comprehensive survey of anglers on the Upper Cannon chain of lakes this summer will help manage and improve those fisheries.

The survey, also known as a creel, involves interviewing anglers while they are on the water. The creel clerk will ask questions about fishing experience, fish caught and harvested, and information about the anglers themselves. Anglers will also be asked for their opinions on proposed muskellunge management on Tetonka Lake. The creel clerk will also do a boat count to measure recreational use

When the creel data is analyzed, it will help provide a unique picture of the fishing quality and recreational pressure on the lakes. It will be also impact future management plans for the lakes.

“It’s been nearly 25 years since we’ve done a creel survey in this area,” according to TJ DeBates, DNR area fisheries supervisor. “This is a high priority for us and we’re anxious to use the data being gathered.”

The creel clerk will conduct surveys on Tetonka, Upper and Lower Sakatah, and Cannon lakes in Le Sueur and Rice counties. The clerk will split days between lakes and interview anglers from a boat.

DeBates said the creel clerk will be easy to recognize. The clerk will be in a DNR uniform and will be driving a boat that displays a DNR sticker. The creel clerk will approach anglers on the water and ask for permission to survey them.

“The more information our clerk gathers, the better we will be able to manage this chain of lakes. By helping us, the anglers will help themselves.”

Reports from the first two weeks of the creel survey show anglers have been very successful with walleyes, northern pike, white bass, bluegills and crappies on this set of lakes.

Until next time, take some time to enjoy a little fishing and experience the magic of watching a bobber as it bounces lazily in the breeze; it’s a great way to spend time in the outdoors.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers because they are the reason we are able to enjoy these freedoms that we have.

Dick Herfindahl’s column appears in the Tribune each Sunday.