Column: Avoid those messy camping fiascos: Fish close to home

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 25, 2002

Memorial Day weekend is here already and it doesn’t even seem like we have had a real spring.

Memorial Day is a time to remember not only those that made the ultimate sacrifice but also those who served and those who are serving now. It is also a time to remember our loved ones that have passed on.

For many years, we went camping every Memorial Day weekend with a group of friends. The weather always seemed to be about the same, cold, rainy and sunless.

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When we first started going we tented. It was fun, but the rain would always seem to get to a person after a couple days. One year it rained all weekend and we ended up sleeping in the back of the pickup, which only had a small topper at the time. That year our son, Brad, shared a bout of Pinkeye with our fellow campers, which they would periodically thank us for over the next few years.

There was one year we were a little late leaving town, but we had a hot tip from a friend about this &uot;free&uot; camping spot. When we finally found the campsite, it was dark. There were three couples and we had a brand new three-room tent that nobody had ever set up before. After wrestling with that thing in the dark for the better part of an hour we finally got it set up. We hardly had time to step back and admire our work when another camper came by and told us we were on somebody else’s camp spot.

We tore it down, moved it and started over. After the second time, we decided it was time for a campfire. There was no firewood to be found.

Being the proud male species and providers of good things for our mates, we set off into this pasture. Gathering twigs and old broken branches, we were ever so careful to maneuver around thistles, burdocks, barbed wire and a herd of Holsteins that seemed intent on letting us know we were on their turf.

Upon our triumphant return with torn clothes, heavy, smelly shoes and a few measly twigs, we found our wives sitting in front of a roaring campfire. It seems the guy that told us we had to move felt sorry for us and gave us all the firewood we would ever need for the weekend.

At least in other years the weather would warm up before the holiday weekend and cool down for the Holiday. This year it has skipped the warm part, so maybe the weekend will be better.

The fishing in northern Minnesota is behind because the water hasn’t really warmed up and the fish aren’t in their usual pattern for this time of year.

Locally, fishing has hinted at picking up. I have heard of some good fish coming from some of the lakes in the area. If the warmer weather holds on through the weekend, fishing could be pretty good. To fish the lakes around here you don’t necessarily need a $20,000 rig to catch fish.

Shore fishing is an economical and sometimes even more productive way to fish some of these lakes and streams.

I prefer to cast because it is a good way to cover a fair amount of water in a short amount of time, but there is always something magical about bobber fishing that draws my attention. I can be casting and someone with me can be bobber fishing and it seems like I always end up watching the bobber; mine or not, it doesn’t matter. The anticipation draws my attention. I don’t think there is a more relaxing way to spend an evening than finding a nice place along the shore to fish and put on a simple hook, split shot and bobber, along with your favorite bait.

Relaxation, to me, is kicking back and watching your bobber. Self-gratification, on the other hand, is taking two or three grandsons fishing.

Last summer I spent one gratifying evening getting bobbers out of trees, trying to get lures unsnagged from the lake bottom, taking weeds off and unhooking bullheads that had swallowed everything but the fishing pole itself.

My second oldest grandson, Taylor, had it figured out. &uot;Grandpa, you didn’t catch any fish because you didn’t have any time to fish.&uot; That didn’t stop them from rubbing it in about who didn’t catch any.

If you were going to fish locally it would help to know what fish are biting and what the majority is being caught on. You can save a little money that way. I’ve gone fishing many times and brought a supply of minnows, leeches and crawlers and ended up using only one thing. Sometimes just a small bobber and a small jig and a twister tail cast out and reeled in with a little twitch can bring good results.

Remember the Tribune’s &uot;Catch of the Week&uot; contest. If you catch a fish and snap a picture, bring it in. Good luck and good fishin.’

Have a safe Memorial Day.