Spring is coming, but it’s a good idea to keep a shovel handy

Published 6:00am Sunday, March 9, 2014

Column: Woods & Water, by Dick Herfindahl

Let’s talk about the weather. It’s a subject I’ve probably written about too many times already. The local weather forecast for last Tuesday evening was originally 1 to 3 inches of the white stuff. Then it changed to 2 to 4 and ended up being anywhere from 10 to 12 depending on what area of the county where you reside. I’m beginning to think that the forecast changes when the original max has been reached, and it’s still snowing at which time a revision is necessary. Blaming the poor weatherman wouldn’t change anything, but the only thing I know for certain is that I’m running out of places to put all that white stuff. If we were located back East, 10 inches of snow would be national news. Although, we did make the CBS evening news on Wednesday. They didn’t put a name tag on it, but in our fair state of Minnesota, that much snow is just considered business as usual.

After watching some area fishermen scramble to get their fish houses extracted from area lakes in an attempt to meet the deadline, I’m glad I don’t have a permanent house for ice fishing. I often wondered why the word permanent is used to describe a structure that sits on a lake for only a few months and must be removed after a certain date. Just saying.

After the houses have been removed and last rites have been offered up for most of the fish in our area lakes, we are in that dead zone between hard-water fishing and open-water fishing. This is the time of year I get excited about restocking the tackle box, and this year is promising to be even better for me because I’ve decided it’s time to invest in a new light-action rod and reel. I must admit the thought of buying new fishing gear always made it seem like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to winter’s end. I guess it’s kind of like anticipating a summer vacation while shoveling the driveway. It keeps me motivated, and even a March snowfall cannot dampen my spirits because I know spring is indeed just around the corner. Isn’t it?

I remember when we moved to our current residence and our next door neighbor — at the time — was taking a March trip to The River in search of the wily walleye. I looked at him and thought to myself, “There’s still snow on the ground. Are you nuts?” After a couple of years, I figured it out. It was his way of trying to hasten the onset of spring — if only in his mind. There were times I’ve fished in weather that was cold, windy, rainy or even snowy. There are still times I can be found on the lake in those conditions, but it’s usually on the opener or late in the fall when I take my annual October trip north.

For some reason, I can usually justify in my mind being there at those times because it’s the opener or I’m enjoying a late fall fishing excursion with a son, a grandson or both. I enjoy the governor’s openers because I can connect with old friends, make new ones and the short time spent fishing in a certain area of the state can be very rewarding. Each area of the state that hosts that opener has its own unique story in itself, and I’m there to enjoy the area and share that experience with my readers.

My son Brian and I have taken an October hunting and fishing trip to our cabin in the Marcell area for many years. I don’t believe there’s a better time of the year to spend a few days in that beautiful area of the state than the fall. We are fortunate in that we have a little cabin in the woods to go to. This was always a dream of mine, and it wouldn’t have happened if Brian hadn’t asked me if I wanted to go in with him and look for some land in that area. After searching all summer, we found the spot we wanted — and could afford — on a small lake. It took us quite a few years to get where we are because we had to clear the heavily-wooded land for the driveway and clear a spot for the cabin that we built ourselves. It’s still a work in progress, but it was well worth it because when I reflect back on it, this is something Brian, my son Brad and my grandsons built with our own hands. Over the years when our grandsons were not assisting with work on the cabin, they spent many fun-filled days fishing, swimming and hunting on our little lake or on one of the many lakes in the area. When I close my eyes, I can still hear their laughter coming from the lake or see them sitting around the evening campfire roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. This is truly what makes it much more than just a little cabin in the woods.

Until next time, chin up! Spring is just around the corner – even if it doesn’t seem like it.

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

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