Column: Winter seems intent on holding on as long as it can

Published 2:57pm Saturday, April 13, 2013

Are we there yet? How much longer? These are questions a little kid might ask while on a trip. These are also questions about spring that I have found myself mumbling at times to no one in particular. I have found that it’s getting pretty hard to get all that excited about spring, when winter seems intent on holding on as long as it can. Over the years, April has brought us an occasional snowstorm. But, as much as I embrace the four seasons of Minnesota, I really feel that it’s time to move on to the next season.

My grandson, Trevor, has been hunting snow geese this spring with some pretty good results. It gives me a good feeling to know that he likes all facets of the outdoors experience. It is great to see not only Trevor but my other grandsons get involved in hunting and fishing. I am looking forward to introducing my two young granddaughters to the outdoors as well. When it comes to our youth, as sportsmen we really need to do whatever we can to promote the sports of hunting and fishing. There are too many kids out there who haven’t been exposed to these outdoors activities, and our youth are our future sportsmen. They need to get unplugged and get outdoors, because they will be the ones to carry on the tradition of the outdoors heritage that we enjoy in our great state.

Once the weather straightens out and the ice is off of area lakes, we can begin seeking out perch and panfish. There was a time when it was fashionable to fish bullheads, and spring was the best time to do that. It just doesn’t seem like there are as many of those whiskered fish swimming area lakes as there once was. My father and mother in-law used to look forward to fishing bullheads each spring, and my wife Jean and I were usually invited to tag along. We would go to a variety of places around the Twin Lakes and Emmons area in search of the fish that they classified as a delicacy. I had learned early on that you never stood behind my mother-in-law when she was fishing bullheads. If the bobber went under, the fish was coming out of the water. Once the hook was set, she’d rip the fish out of the water, and the bullhead usually go flew over her head and landed somewhere behind her. I had a few near-misses before I learned to pay closer attention.

Now we Norwegians take our share of good natured ribbing for eating lutefisk, but a lot of those same Norskies, along with many non-lutefisk eaters, have also devoured their share of bullheads. As an adult, I usually didn’t go out of my way to fish for them, unless I was with my in-laws. I have to say that catching those big old yellow-bellied bullheads back at the old mink farm when I was a kid sure was a lot of fun. In case you haven’t noticed, when it comes to fishing, I still consider myself a kid. Kids don’t really care what they are catching — as long as they’re catching something.

This kind of gets back to sharing the outdoors with our youth. It doesn’t take an expensive rig to catch fish in our area lakes or any lake for that matter. Getting a kid hooked on fishing is a great way to start them on a lifelong adventure. There are a lot of places to fish in our area, and there are other nearby lakes that can make the experience seem even more exciting. Both St. Olaf and Beaver Lakes have nice fishing piers, and a short drive to a different lake can seem pretty special and can be pretty exciting to a young fisherman.

I can remember as a kid, my mom would sometimes pack a picnic lunch for a Sunday afternoon of fishing and a picnic. Even now, I still look back on these times and remember how much I enjoyed spending the day at the lake. If you don’t want to leave town you can dig some worms or buy some minnows, pack a picnic lunch and visit Edgewater Park for an afternoon of fishing and enjoying the outdoors. Sometimes simple is better, and it can give a child memories that will last he or she a lifetime.

If you would like to try your hand at trout fishing, you don’t need a fly rod. Only a spinning reel and some crawlers are necessary. The Department of Natural Resources released the following information regarding trout fishing near St. Peter:

Trout fishing on Paul’s Creek began April 13.

Rainbow trout fishing will return to Paul’s Creek near St. Peter, as the Minnesota DNR begins stocking operations for the April 13 stream trout opener.

“Stocking Paul’s Creek has become a tradition for area anglers and the DNR,” said Scott Mackenthun, DNR fisheries assistant area supervisor. “We know a lot of people of all ages look forward to it.”

On the eve of Minnesota’s stream trout opener, the DNR will stock 1,500 rainbow trout yearlings into the St. Peter trout ponds, also known as Paul’s Creek.

Stream trout are defined as splake, brook, brown and rainbow trout. Anglers are limited to five fish of combined species. Only one trout may be more than 16 inches long.

All anglers age 16 and older must possess a Minnesota angling license and trout stamp validation. Fishing hours for stream trout on inland waters are from one hour before sunrise until 11 p.m. each day. All stream trout must have head, tail, fins and skin intact when being transported.

Until next time, let’s get out and spend a little time in the great Minnesota outdoors.

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

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