Remembering family, friends and fishing

Published 6:00am Sunday, January 5, 2014

Column: Woods & Water, by Dick Herfindahl

This past year has been pretty good to me, and I am thankful for that. It started with the birth of my granddaughter Ava which is definitely at the top of my list. This past year, I once again had the opportunity to attend another governor’s fishing opener with my friend Jeff Anderson from Watertown, S.D. On this opener, we were fortunate enough to meet some very nice folks — Brett Kent and his wife Brenda — who are from the Park Rapids area. Brett turned a cold and windy day of fishing into a very memorable experience for Jeff and me. We are planning another trip to the area this summer to once again do a little fishing with Brett. I’ve met a lot of nice folks over the years on these fishing openers, but this will be the first time I will have actually followed up on an invitation to make a return trip. In May, Mark Runden and I had the opportunity to spend a little time at my brother-in-law Ron’s cabin on Wabedo Lake by Longville. He took us to a few different lakes, including Leech Lake, where I caught my own personal best walleye — a 28.5-incher.

2013 also gave Jean and me an opportunity to take our granddaughter Emma and her brother Dylan to the cabin for most of a week. After a few days, 4-year-old Emma was probably thinking we brought her along just to feed the mosquitoes. Emma is an outdoors girl, but the mosquitoes were so bad that she and grandma spent a lot of time in the cabin. I’d have to say that the mosquitoes were the one downside of spending time at the cabin this past year. I topped the year off with a late October trip north with my grandson Dylan. The weather cooperated just enough so we were able to get out fishing each day that we were there. Dylan caught a dandy northern on the first day of fishing which made the whole trip worthwhile.

Whenever I revisit my favorite lake in that area, Spider Lake, I have fond memories of times spent fishing with my boys and later with the grandkids. Spider Lake has a slot limit on northern pike where any fish 24 to 36 inches must be immediately released and only one over 36 may be kept. Certain spots on that lake hold certain memories for me whenever I pass by on the way to a new sure fire hot spot. I take at least one day each year to revisit Spider Lake, and I suspect that it’s not just for the fishing but also to reflect on the past and the many good times our family has enjoyed there over the years.

There were a few years when my sister Judy and my brother-in-law Mike would camp with us at Spider Lake. Our kids would play together, and I suspect the campfire and games of hide-and-seek that they played at night were more important to them than the time they spent fishing. I remember one particular evening when I took my son Brad and his cousin Jeremy out to do a little walleye fishing. Over the years, I observed an elderly gentleman who had a cabin on the lake as he fished one certain area. I discovered that there was a small rock pile right next to a weed bed so we anchored in that spot, and it wasn’t long before we caught walleyes — which might have caused the boys to believe I actually knew what I was doing.

I have a lot fond memories of those times spent camping at Spider Lake. Last year after driving past the in-drive many times, I finally took the initiative to stop and check out the old resort where we enjoyed so many vacations. The original owners long since moved on, but the new owner was gracious enough to let me look around and take a little stroll down memory lane. They no longer have weekly or daily camping, but outside of that I found that the place hadn’t changed much. Yes, it was good to take a little nostalgic walk around the place. For a moment I even imagined that I could hear the sound of our kids swimming and playing in the water down at the dock.

Spending time at the cabin with the grandkids is what I really enjoy. Although Brian’s boys didn’t make it up there with me this past year, I’m hoping we can make it happen a few times this coming summer. It seems like only yesterday I had to bait their hooks, cast their lures and untangle lines for them — I have to wonder where that time has gone?

I haven’t heard much about the fishing in the channel as of late, but I know the small walleye had been biting early on. There are a lot of houses on the channel and over by the beach. Last year the beach was pretty consistent for panfish and perch.

The cold weather that we’ve been experiencing the past week or more hasn’t made me too excited about sitting on the ice. Hopefully the weather will warm up in the not too distant future.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers in the New Year 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.