Looking forward to the fishing opener again

Published 5:54 am Saturday, May 1, 2010

This year I will once again be attending the Minnesota Governor’s fishing opener, which is about two weeks away. I am really looking forward to this year’s opener because it will be held at Lake Kabetogama, which I have never had the opportunity to fish. Each year when I attend these events I not only learn about the bodies of water in the area but about the communities as well as the history of the area.

I know that it’s a fishing opener but there is so much more to it. The main purpose of these events is to expose that particular area to extensive media coverage and to not only promote that specific area but Minnesota tourism as a whole. Even with all the work involved this is still a win-win situation for the host community because they get their area exposed to media coverage that they would not otherwise be getting. It is always impressive to see how much time and work the residents of these areas put into hosting these events.

Just the experience of learning about Lake Kabatogema and getting a chance to do some fishing on this body of water that I have read and heard so much about over the years will be great. I still have fond memories of the year when the Crane Lake area hosted the opener. I think I only caught one walleye that trip but it was probably my favorite opener. It snowed and rained and was only in the 40s most of the day but that didn’t matter. Our fishing host had a 22-foot Crestliner with a top and we ventured across Crane Lake and into Namakan Lake and ventured across the Namakan to Kettle Falls where we portaged onto the Rainy River. All in all we put on more than 80 miles that day while corn snow and rain intermittently pelted us throughout the day. We had lunch at the old hotel at Kettle Falls where the floor in the bar room has a wicked slant and when you sat your glass on the table the liquid in it was at a sharp angle.

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As we passed through some narrows on Crane Lake our host took the time to show us the drawings on the cliffs that were done by the Native Americans many years earlier. They almost reminded me of the pictures of the old drawings cavemen did centuries ago. I learned much about the history of that area in just that one day. The best part was that I learned it not from a book but from someone that knew the area and its history.

Now is when I’ll have to get serious about re-arranging my tackle box and I still need to put new line on my favorite fishing rig. I will somehow have to convince myself that one tackle box will suffice for at least this weekend. I have a tendency to take too much tackle for the fishing time allotted. I guess, for some reason, I always feel that I need to take all that tackle because you just never know when the fish will be calling for that certain lure. Just my luck! I left that sure-fire lure in one of my other tackle boxes.

I made the annual spring trip to Cabela’s with grandson Trevor last weekend. I came back with some much-needed “necessities” but did manage to abstain from buying the latest “killer” musky lure. I have decided that I need to give the ones I’ve got a good workout before bringing in reinforcements. If I do buy a lure it will be a replacement for one that was lost in the heat of battle. I once read and have to agree that if you are afraid to lose a lure then you had better not go fishing. Although with the price of musky lures these days it can tend to get a little spendy if you do keep losing them.

Most of the lures that I have lost to muskies have been when I’ve had a strike near the boat. These are a fearless fish and will follow a lure to the boat and lurk under it waiting for a chance to attack. I had a bucktail spinner called a “Big Slim,” which was my favorite. Favorite because I won it in a musky fishing contest years ago and it was also a proven fish catcher. One July afternoon I was fishing with my brother-in-law Mike on Spider Lake and was casting heavy cover for the “toothed ones” when one hit “Slim” just as I raised it out of the water. With only 3 feet of line out and a mean musky holding onto “Slim” I had no time to react and let out drag. After the 30-pound test line snapped I just sat there for a moment feeling like I’d just lost an old friend. I think I felt worse about that than I did when Mike, that same week, tried to net the biggest walleye I’d ever had to the boat and he missed the fish and got my lure in the net instead. Although it didn’t bother me that much Mike likes it when I remind him of what happened from time to time. There are more walleyes to be had and I know that another “lunker” with my name on it is just waiting for me around the next bend. After all these years I have never been able to find another “Big Slim” bucktail; although I’ve tried some that are similar to it they’ve just never seemed to work as good as old “Slim” did.

These are all good memories of fishing experiences from the past. Although the seasons come and go and things are always changing, those memories will always be there. Now it’s time to look forward to new adventures and making new memories. Although I do look forward to the opener each year, fishing with the family is really where all the best memories are made.

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.