Remembering fishing Fourths

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 16, 2002

This Fourth of July weekend was really a scorcher. That’s a news flash I know, but there have been many other warm ones in the past.

I can remember one Fourth when my boys were young and actually thought I was Mr. Outdoors when it came to camping and fishing. We were camping with our neighbors at a campground on Lake Francis.

We were tenting, and when the temp reaches in the 90s and your tent is in the middle of an open area with no shade it tends to get toasty inside. When the sun went down it didn’t seem to cool off much. I thought maybe I had the only tent with insulated walls because that baby could really hold the heat.

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We had my small fishing boat with us and my neighbor, Rick, and I had plans to get up early and go fishing. This is where the vast knowledge I had not acquired yet showed up. We went to town and bought minnows, brought them back and tied them to the dock, in the 90-degree heat with no breeze.

We got up early, probably didn’t even sleep with the heat, and headed to the lake. Everything was ready. Took the minnows and off we went. When I went to put a minnow on my hook I discovered that they were larger, whiter and a whole lot deader than I last remembered. Of course the smell gave me a hint of what was really in the bucket.

After some deliberation I decided to resort to my tackle box. There was a Rapala Countdown No. 7 I believe. This was as close as I could come to matching a minnow. I put it on and Rick put another minnow-looking lure on and we proceeded to troll. I caught a walleye, bass and a small northern plus two crappies. Rick also caught a bass.

Before that

I had never caught anything on that lure. The main reason was that I had no confidence in it, so I would never use it for any length of time. I think a lot of lures work for people because they have confidence in them and they stick with them.

My wife, who always seems to have a way of bringing me back to reality, once asked me a question when I had just come from the store with some fishing lures in tow. &uot;Why do you buy all those fishing lures and then use live bait when we go up north? Don’t they work?&uot; She had me there. I guess it’s a guy thing, gotta have it: but don’t have to use it.

Her question must have had an effect on me because I don’t shop for lures as much as I used to and I now use lures more than live bait. Know what? They work! Not all of them, of course, but a lot of them really work. My favorite Shad Rap has replaced my favorite colored Countdown, and some of the other favorites have taken a back seat to newer ones but they all seem to work at certain times.

On the national news the other day it was revealed that camping is becoming more and more popular this summer because people want to fly less than they did before 9/11.

They also said there are actually places in California that rent you all the camping gear you need for a camping vacation; now that’s really unique.

I think we in Minnesota have called them outfitters for as long as I can remember.

If you are into tenting or camping or would like to try it, there are some really neat places to go right here in our great state. In Minnesota there are 3.2 million acres of managed State Forest land and many State Forest campgrounds where you can camp on a site for as little as $9 per night. These areas are rustic and do not have resident managers and unlike State Parks there are no fees to enter. They have fire rings, picnic tables, water, vault toilets, level parking and garbage containers.

Some of these have group sites, meaning more than one tent and RV can be on these larger sites. These are $30 per night where available. If interested in group sites they must be reserved in advance by calling area offices. Group sites only are reserved all others are on a first come first serve basis.

Northern Minnesota has many of these beautiful parks, and one of the nicest I have seen is on the Northeast corner of Lake Winnibigoshish.

Contact the DNR Information Center by e-mail (”) or phone at (651) 296-6157 or (888) MINNDNR; TTY: (651) 296-5484 or (800) 657-3929 with any questions or to get the brochure &uot;Minnesota State Forest Campgrounds and Recreation Areas.&uot;