Now is a good time for perch and crappies

Published 8:52 am Friday, April 16, 2010

The nice spring weather that we have been experiencing lately is enough to give any fisherman spring fever. Just like the first ice-over is supposed to be the best time to fish, so is the early spring when it comes to perch and crappie. From what I’ve seen the perch and crappies have been cooperating with area fishermen. This past weekend the fishermen were elbow-to-elbow on the Front Street bridge and they were indeed catching perch.

When I was a kid I would spend hours reading and re-reading outdoors magazines. I loved reading about fishing and while I was reading about some of these fishing experiences I could use my imagination and was almost able to put myself there.

One such article told of steelhead fishing in upper New York State. There was a picture of fishermen lining the banks of a river elbow-to-elbow with other fishermen in pursuit of steelhead. Although the writer didn’t once make any reference to tangles in my mind I thought that it had to be one big mess, but I still wished that I could be one of those lucky fishermen. Fishing in a strong current is difficult enough but to cast a line in a small area surrounded by fishermen could make things interesting to say the least. I am obviously a big fishing enthusiast, but I do have to draw the line when it comes to fishing in a crowd.

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Give me a nice, cool, clear morning on some secluded part of a lake and I’m there. I don’t really need to catch a lot of fish as long as I can enjoy being there. If I can find that special place and catch a few fish then that is a bonus. I have always enjoyed being on the water early in the morning and if I’m not in a boat then I’ll be at one of my favorite shore fishing spots at sunrise or before.

There is something about the early morning that is so exhilarating and this experience makes me feel that I am about as close to nature as I can possibly get. There is always something special about watching a sunrise and being able to observe wildlife as they welcome another day that makes it even better. If you’re in the woods, or by a grove, or pasture just hearing the birds chirping while the dew is still wet on the grass signals the start of a new day.

I’ve mentioned many times that the there is that ultimate thrill which I get out of sitting on a lake just before sunrise while watching the fog slowly lift. Having the lake to yourself, if even for an hour or so, can be one of the most peaceful experiences you can have. There are the times when in the early morning mist you can hear a fish jump or an animal swimming, but you can’t see them. Then there are the times when you can hear the splash but don’t see the fish jump and turn and witness the ripples that it made. This is what I consider a wonder of nature; it leaves much to the imagination and really gets the old adrenaline flowing.

Anticipating a strike on the next cast or looking for that “bump” on the next drop of the jig is what makes me feel like I’m that kid again. You know the one that would get butterflies in his stomach at just the thought of going on a fishing trip with Uncle Ben, or the same kid that would ride his bike to town to fish Fountain Lake for a day. That same kid would also ride his bike to the old “mink farm” on Bancroft Bay with a hook and throw line with a nut or washer from his dad’s workbench for a sinker and the bobber was an old thermos bottle cork, which worked quite nicely. That same kid would catch those big old yellow-bellied bullheads and huge bluegills with nothing more than that throw line. I would usually use earthworms for bait, which I had dug up in the back yard. You didn’t need a lot of money just a little imagination, some creativity and you could spend a whole day catching fish and having a ball.

I guess you could say that fishing the shores of Fountain Lake or back by the mink farm “was” my steelhead fishing trip or my trip to the mountains fishing the trout streams of Montana. As a youth I made the most out of what I had and truly developed a love of the outdoors.

Now my mother didn’t always appreciate it when I brought home a stringer of fish that I’d caught in the morning and had been dragging around for the better part of the day. Nobody liked fish more than her but once they were stiff and yellow they weren’t fit to eat so I’d have to bury them in the garden. I did eventually figure out that “catch and release” was better than “catch and bury.” I still kept fish to eat but made sure that the timetable allowed the meat to be fresh and edible.

Use caution when burning

This is the time of year that we need to be extra cautious when burning. Although our area of the state only has moderate fire dangers right now you will still need a permit to burn. With the dead grass and dry brush that we have around at this time of year we must always use caution when burning.

The fire danger in the northern half of the state is high and the top two-thirds of our state is issuing no burning permits but controlled campfires are still being permitted.

Until next time, get out and enjoy our great Minnesota outdoors and while you’re at it take some time to wet a line.

Remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers throughout the year.