Spring it’s a great time to enjoy nature

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 26, 2006

By Dick Herfindahl, Outdoors Writer

Looking ahead to the summer can be a refreshing experience but it can also be frustrating. Spring is here! So let’s get on with it. For some reason winter seems to be letting us know that even though we have had a pretty mild one it’s not going to leave just yet. Flirting with temps near 40 degrees and dropping into the 20’s overnight is about as close to torture as it gets.

I know that before too long we’ll be wondering where it went and why there is no relief from the heat. We are actually pretty lucky to be living in Minnesota because we have it all &045; four seasons to enjoy and believe me, I can’t wait for the spring part of that to kick in.

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I look back to some springs gone by passed and remember the times of crappie fishing with friends and the family. I also remember the times we went with my mother-in-law and father-in-law seeking out the early spring bullheads. My mother-in-law considered this a true delicacy and we enjoyed many a meal of spring bullheads.

Now, cleaning bullheads is probably not at the top of my list of favorite things to do but the end result can be rewarding. We spent many evenings in Twin Lakes enjoying the fruits of our labor devouring plates of bullhead as fast as Jean’s mom could fry them. Bullheads, fried potatoes and a taste of Milwaukee’s finest to wash it all down with. With spring in the air and fish in the frying pan it just didn’t get any better than that.

When the boys were young their grandpa took us to a private lake that a family friend lived on. The boys still talk about those huge yellow-bellied bullheads that we caught that spring. It goes to show that catching fish can be one of the greatest memories we can take from our childhood.

It’s not the kind of fish but the fun you have catching them.

These were special times and a lot of great memories were made on these early season outings.

The best part was that we were virtually almost right in our own back yard.

I know the grandsons will be waiting for the carp to start running in the &8220;crick&8221; because they have a blast catching those fierce fighters. Each year they look forward to this and each year they have a blast. Carp have broad shoulders and in a current they will really give you a run for your money. They are definitely not an eating delicacy but you can have fun catching them and you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy it, just a kid at heart!

I think that some of my fondest memories growing up are of the spring and when the streams and lakes started to open up to the next season. I spent many hours not far from our house just hanging out at &8220;the bridge.&8221; Where are you going? Someone would ask and all you’d say is the bridge and everyone knew.

Us kids would head down there as soon as the spring thaw was complete and the water started to go down to its normal level. We&8217;d be on the lookout for the first sign of minnows and would always be hoping to spot bigger fish.

Bullheads were the next to move into the area followed by carp and a few pumpkinseeds and what we called &8220;rubber tails.&8221; One or two of us from time to time had claimed to have spotted a northern on a couple of different occasions.

But without any witnesses and without collaboration it was just a story.

We would fashion drop nets out of old screens and try to catch the minnows in them by waiting

for them to swim over it and pulling it straight up. This usually was pretty effective and we

would sometimes marvel at the fact that we could outsmart a school of minnows. If we caught small sunfish or crappies with the minnows we would also marvel at the fact that such a fish was hanging out at our bridge then throw them back in hopes that they would grow and we’d meet again another day.

Watching the tadpoles as they transformed themselves into frogs and was something we did almost daily. The &8220;crick&8221; was alive with wildlife, for kids that loved the outdoors &045; it was almost like having our own zoo. It was fun to watch the redwing blackbirds as they’d nest and to monitor the progress as their young emerged from their nests among the cattails. Hearing the unmistakable call of this bird still gives me a special feeling that stirs memories of those days.

Spotting yellow wing blackbirds was also quite an event and we would stand for indefinite periods of time just watching the birds flutter from spot to spot. It was simple fun that we enjoyed and it taught us respect for nature and all the wonders that it has to share with us.

Until next time play safe and enjoy the outdoors.

Remember to keep the troops that are serving our country in your thoughts and prayers.