It’s hard to predict the unpredictable

Published 3:31pm Saturday, March 22, 2014

Woods & Water, by Dick Herfindahl

I was having coffee with a few friends when my friend Russ and I began reminiscing about our past experiences. I love taking a step back to remember the good times, and occasionally someone will bring up an instance that was not all that memorable.

However, in this case it was all good and definitely something we both can sit back and laugh about. It was late June in the summer of ’76, and my wife Jean was about a month away from giving birth to our second son, Brad. The previous year, we vacationed with Russ and his wife, Sue, at Big Sand Lake in northern Minnesota. Because of the impending birth of our next child, we felt it would not be wise to venture too far from home.

Sue’s parents had a cabin on Lake Tetonka in Waterville, and they were nice enough to let us stay there for a week. I brought my little 14-foot car-topper boat along. After we settled in, Russ and I — in all of our wisdom — decided we would carry that light little boat down the steep hill to the lake. Now, this seemed like a piece of cake for two intelligent, strong, agile and macho guys like us, so off we went. The boat only weighed 110 pounds, so there should have been nothing to it. Somewhere between the top and the first landing, we discovered that even a light boat was still shaped like a boat and navigating around bushes and tree branches was no easy task. Have you ever started to do something and then about halfway into it realized that it may not have been a good idea? Did I mention macho?

After wrestling that boat down the hill, we came through almost unscathed except for a few scratches and scrapes from the branches. Now all we had to do was carry the motor down, and we would be fishing before you knew it. Even though the motor was heavy, it was easier to carry than that little boat.

It was pretty warm outside, and after that workout, a nice shower looked pretty good. Unfortunately, the water heater was on the blink, so it was a cold shower or no shower. After resisting the urge to take a cold shower, it was finally time to face reality and jump in with guns-a-blazing. No blazing there. Those cold streams of water coming out of the nozzle felt like needles being stuck into your body. I believe it was the coldest water I ever felt, so it was in and out without spending a lot of time getting wet. Did I forget to mention macho?

Once we were settled in, we began to fish. Right away, we caught some nice striped bass. We caught quite a few fish that week, which made overcoming a few obstacles almost worthwhile. One morning when Russ and I were out, we started catching walleye, but they were just a little too small. It was unique because I’ve never had a whole school of walleye follow my lure all the way to the boat like they did in that instance.

Another time, Russ and I decided to take a short trip to a little lake not far from Tetonka. The lake is named Fish Lake and is west of Tetonka Lake. It is a small, clear lake that has bass, northern, crappie and a lot of small sunnies in it. The lake also has a horsepower restriction, limiting motor size to 10 horsepower or less.

Once we launched the boat, I decided to troll and put on my favorite bait at the time: a Beetle Spin tipped with a minnow. Russ used an old gray — it was once white — twister tail with about half a dozen split shot about 8 inches from the jig. Upon seeing that, I just shook my head and mentioned to Russ that I really didn’t see him catching anything with that rig. He just shrugged it off and went on fishing saying that it would be just fine. Now I, after all, was the one who had a subscription to In-Fisherman magazine and had pretty much put Al Linder on a pedestal, so I should know what I was talking about. But I just left him alone thinking he’d change when I was catching all the fish. Did I mention macho?

Unfortunately for me, as the day unfolded it was Russ who reeled in fish after fish, while I dragged the same dead minnow around all day. After that, I no longer offer up any free advice unless I am asked first. Sometimes no matter how much you think you might know about fishing, there is no way of knowing what will work on any given day. Russ said he finally lost that old Twister a few years ago. Thanks Russ.

Until next time, it’s spring so get out and enjoy the outdoors so you can start making a few memories of your own.

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.