A little common sense goes a long way on the waterPublished 2:36pm Saturday, June 29, 2013
Column: Woods and Water, by Dick Herfindahl
It seems like we have spent most of the spring stuck in Minnesota’s version of a monsoon season. I have been tossing around the idea of calling the Department of Natural Resources and asking them about stocking my basement with walleyes. Last week, I wrote about some of the funny things that can happen to a guy (me) over many years of fishing. I’d be willing to bet that if you were to talk to any fisherman, he’d have a funny tale or two to share with you.
One of my darkest fishing moments came when I was with my grandson, Dylan, on a little lake not too far from our cabin. We had just launched the boat, and as I was backing away from shore I noticed water seeping into the back of the boat; that’s when the little light bulb in my head clicked on, and I realized we were in big trouble. I had forgotten to insert the plug, and the water was fast approaching the top of the transom. I quickly turned the throttle to the max in an attempt to get it on plane and suck the water out, but it had already taken on too much water. It was about that time that bad thoughts started to flash through my mind. I remembered the bilge pump and turned it on and it started working. After a couple of minutes, I was gaining on the water all the while buzzing up and down the small lake. I finally managed to get it on plane, and thus rid it of most of the water. That was the closest I have ever come to sinking a boat. Although I’d rather not travel down this particular memory lane, Dylan still reminds me of that day from time to time. It won’t be my favorite, but it is another memory from up north that both of us will always have.
Yes, I’ve had my share of bad or humorous moments, but I’ve also witnessed some that could probably top those. One of those incidents involved a friend of mine named Larry who had a camper at Best Point in Waterville at the same time that I did. He liked to partake in a few spirits from time to time, and on one occasion he and a friend of his decided to go out for a little evening fishing venture. After a couple of hours they decided to call it a night and headed in. I was down at my boat when they were attempting to put his boat on the lift. I could hear his motor revving up but he couldn’t get it on the lift then his friend noticed that the trolling motor was still down in the front. He had pretty much cut it in half, trying to get the boat on the lift so needless to say, Larry was not a happy camper (pun intended).
Another incident that could have had serious repercussions was the time that a boat could definitely be considered over-loaded with only two people on board. It seems that this person who was a regular camper each year had customized his old 12-foot fishing boat by adding two captains’ chairs out of an old pickup truck. Those puppies were mounted in that little boat on plywood, which made them sit quite high out of the water. The guy decided to try out his new invention by taking his buddy fishing. This buddy must have weighed well in excess of 300 pounds, so when he sat in the front of that little boat, the stern sat a little high in the water. As they were fishing, a boat went speeding past creating a wake, and when that little boat met the wake the stern (rear) of the boat came out of the water. At the same time, the big guy in the front lost his balance and toppled out. In a knee-jerk reaction, the front of the boat went straight up in the air, the rear went under and the boat went straight down like a rock. The boaters around them were able to get to the two guys but they couldn’t get the big guy into a boat so they had to tow him to shore. I don’t believe that there were any spirits involved in this incident, but there wasn’t a lot of common sense involved either.
Yes, we can laugh at these incidents now, but with a little bad luck there could have been some serious consequences. Use a little common sense while on the water and save the spirits for the nightly campfire.
I have to say that almost every time I have been up north at the cabin doing some fishing, I have gotten a text from my grandson Trevor. He has sent me pictures of big bass, northern and walleye that he has caught on the lakes in our area. It’s tough to justify driving 300+ miles and not get fish like he gets right at home.
I have said it many times that it’s not all about the catching, but it’s about the fishing when I’m up north. So far this week, as I sit in the cabin writing this column, the fishing has been spotty at best. I have noticed the vegetation, like lily pads and pencil reeds, are barely making an appearance, and it is almost July. I have to think that the late spring has really had an effect on every lake in this area to some extent. A good example of the way fishing was posted on the bulletin board at Frontier Sports in Marcell. Usually by now there are numerous fish pictured on the big billboard this time of year, but thus far there are very few. Most of the folks in the area say that the fishing has been pretty spotty, but hopefully it will turn around as the summer goes on.
The rain has been hard on us in the southern part of the state, but as far as fishing goes, it has been very good. Almost every species of fish has been biting and that is a good thing if you are a fisherman.
Now is a good time to wet a line and get out and enjoy one of our many area lakes.
Please remember our service men and women who serve our country so that we may enjoy the many freedoms that we have today.
Dick Herfindahl’s column appears in the Tribune each Sunday.