Outdoors: Holiday weekend was filled with fun

Published 10:15 am Friday, May 30, 2008

So far this year it seems like old Mother Nature just can’t let go of the cold stuff. Although we did have a pretty decent Memorial Day weekend that hasn’t always been the case. When I look back at the years we camped every Memorial weekend it always seemed to rain or be cold and windy or all of the above. It seemed like the best weather was the day you packed up and headed home. This year the weather was pretty darned nice and actually waited until the last day to turn.

My wife, Jean, and I headed north this weekend to spend time with our family. We left Friday afternoon and when we arrived at the cabin it was definitely time to put a log or two on the fire. Friday night was pretty cold but the rest of the weekend was almost perfect.

Fishing wasn’t all that good and after discovering that the water temperature was still in the low 50s I could see why. It seems like everything, from trees to grasses, is a couple of weeks behind normal. Another thing that I noticed was the lack of people for a holiday weekend. The late thaw, cold weather and high gas prices all probably played a big part in that. The fuel thing was probably the biggest contributor.

Email newsletter signup

I noticed that the traffic just wasn’t as heavy as normal and as you got farther north there were less and less cars. Lakes that would normally have a good number of boats on them this time of year had just a few. The same could be said for the bait shops and convenience stores. If the gas thing doesn’t get fixed I can see that a lot of the businesses that depend on tourism will definitely feel the pinch.

There is a little sports bar and restaurant on the south end of the town of Big Fork that serves up some mighty good food. When I saw the lack of fishermen in the area I couldn’t help but think of how they would be affected. I have already seen some of our favorite places in Grand Rapids close down and the number of resorts is dwindling each year.

The one good thing that we have going for us as lovers of the outdoors is the chance to vote on the dedicated funding bill this fall. It has been 10 years in the works and has finally been approved to put on the ballot. It will give desperately needed funding for clean water, habitat, game and fish and also music and the arts.

When we first arrived at the cabin Trevor, the oldest grandson, said there were trees down on the lakeside of the cabin. There was a big pine lying with the tip resting on the steps but luckily it hadn’t reached the cabin. The next morning we discovered several trees had been blown down by what must have been straight-line winds. Our neighbor Chris told us he’d had about a dozen trees blown down near his cabin and also said he had one fall on it about a month ago. When he climbed the ladder to cut it down he fell off the roof and broke his ankle. Dealing with fallen or leaning trees can be dangerous business. On Sunday morning while Grandma was making breakfast all the grandkids (Trevor, Taylor, Grant and Dylan) took the paddleboat out on our lake for a little spin. About the same time another family member took the canoe and went for a little spin around the lake.

The kids were done for awhile but Dylan decided he wanted to go again so Brian said he’d watch him from the dock. When Dylan got a little ways out he told Brian that something was the matter with the canoe. It was floating upside down and the skipper of the canoe (who will remain anonymous) was in the water and holding onto it.

Our neighbor Chris and his wife, who have the place next to us, saw that the canoe had capsized and paddled out with their canoe to lend a hand. After everyone was transported safely back to the dock in the paddleboat the neighbors towed the canoe in.

It seems like there is always a little family adventure that unfolds every time we go north. Breakfast was a little cold that morning but I don’t think anyone really cared because except for a little dip in the cold water everything turned out okay. As far as breakfast ­— it still tasted mighty fine.

Canoes aren’t the sturdiest of watercraft so you really have to be careful, especially when going solo. As for me I think I’ll just stick to the old Lund.

While we were up north we did a little lake hopping with the hope of finding a few fish. The key word is “few” but we did manage that. We only had the small boat to fish from but we managed to fish in shifts so that everyone that wanted to got to do a little trolling.

Trevor and Dylan talked to a couple of guys at the access that had caught some bass and big bluegills from shore at the west end of the lake. We had to head back but I told Trevor we’d go back in the morning and try from shore. The weather had turned cold overnight and it was misting and windy that morning but we headed to the lake to try our luck. I had a couple of dandy bass on and of course Trevor caught two and then the rain and wind picked up and we decided that we had better head back and eat that big breakfast their mom was fixing for us.

It was a great weekend spent with family in the north woods. The weekend was topped off for Brian, Kim and the boys when a moose walked across the road and stopped along the roadside ahead of their van. Just another sight that you don’t see every day.

A few fishing reports:

WATERVILLE — Walleyes are hitting leeches and nightcrawlers in 12 to 15 feet at lakes Sakatah, Horseshoe, Sabre, and Gorman. Look for sunfish and crappies in the channels between lakes Sakatah and Tetonka. Trolling spinnerbaits has produced numbers of pike at Sakatah and bass seemed to be active in the shallows of all lakes.

MANKATO — Tube jigs have been producing numbers of bass on Lake Washington. Baker’s Bay on Washington also has given up crappies in 10 to 12 feet of water and some walleyes in deeper water. Madison Lake and Lake Elysian are giving up walleyes during the evening hours. The south end of German Lake and the west side of Lake Francis are worth noting for panfish in 10 feet of water or less.

FAIRMONT — Walleyes and northern pike continue to hit minnows and leeches in shallow water at Hall Lake and Tuttle Lake. Fathead minnows are producing catfish on Amber Lake and Fox Lake is the area’s best bass option. Crappies remain active in the channel between Amber and Hall lakes as well as at the power plant on George Lake.

FARIBAULT — The shallow sand areas of Shields Lake and Hunt Lake are holding sunfish. Spinnerbaits and plastics are triggering numbers of bass at Shields and Cedar Lake. Trolling spoons has been an effective way to catch northern pike at Roberds Lake. There’s an evening walleye bite on the 15-foot rock bars of French Lake with fathead minnows.

Until next time, take a little time to enjoy the outdoors – good luck and good “fishin’.”

Memorial Day is the day that has been set aside to honor our fallen soldiers. It would be a good thing to remember them all year long and to show our support for those that are still serving their country today.