Spending a great week up in the north woods

Published 8:53 am Friday, October 22, 2010

Dick Herfindahl, Woods & Water

This past week I had the opportunity to share some time with my oldest son Brian at our cabin in northern Minnesota. It was just the two of us, and this time together brought back memories of years past when the two of us would head north for a fall fishing trip.

Dick Herfindahl

The first two days were warm, borderlining on balmy with that warm October sun, and there was absolutely not a whisper of a breeze. It’s funny how sunshine on a sunny day in late fall or early spring seems to radiate more heat. Brian and I had planned to do some work on the cabin so we decided to get that done before we fished. Brian’s horses must have told him that they wanted to tag along with us so we loaded the horse trailer and now there were four. Brian and my daughter-in-law, Kim, had built a corral for the horses a few years ago and so far it has held up pretty well.

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When we had finished the work we had planned to do we were ready to fish a few of the area lakes. The first day that we fished, of course, was when the weather turned cool, cloudy and windy. The next day was almost perfect, and we decided to take our small boat and head back to a little lake that I’d fished a few years ago. It was like going back in time for me: Small boat, small motor and no depth finder or locator to tell a guy what to do. It was great! We trolled the weed edges, which were a little hard to distinguish because the lake had turned over and the vegetation was dying but that didn’t matter.

We did catch quite a few northern although not many of them had a lot of size, but it was sure a good time. One fish that I caught and was reeling to the boat fought like a smaller northern and then all of a sudden it was pulling hard. My first thought was weeds, but as I got it to the boat Brian said, “You’ve got two of them.” And sure enough there was about an 8-pound northern with the small fish I had on my lure sideways in its mouth. That fish refused to let go until Brian had the net under it.

I have had a larger fish go after a crappie or a walleye before, but I have never had one hang on when it got to the boat. The fish actually had someone else’s lure attached to a leader hanging from its jaw. The lure was almost like new so I don’t think it had been hooked on the fish all that long. The fish did have a sore spot where the lure had been. The knot must have slipped or the line just broke because that leader was so stout I think you could lift a Volkswagen with it. After untangling the mess, I let the big fella go to fight again another day.

Like I said, this was a fun time, and it seemed as if we’d gone back to the old days. Brian said the same thing because it reminded him of when he was a kid and we fished out of that little fishing boat. Fishing was pretty uncomplicated back then, you’d troll the weedlines during the day and in the evening find an underwater sand or rock bar and jig for walleye. Drifting was also an important part of my fishing in those days. After catching quite a few fish from that little boat I almost think that going back to the “old school” method of fishing may not be such a bad idea.

We felt like we were on a roll so we decided to fish another lake that neither of us had ever fished before. This lake was a lot harder to fish because of the amount of structure, and we almost came up empty but did manage to catch a descent northern just before we called it a day. The last lake we fished that week produced quite a few northern before the wind came up, and we decided to call it a day. Overall we never caught any walleye on this trip but did manage a few bass and a lot of northern.

On my last day at the cabin I helped Brian take the horses for a walk, and that’s about as far as I go when it comes to horses. I grew up around horses because my dad had horses almost all of his life. For some reason his love of horses and the riding of them never rubbed off on me. I rode horses when I was growing up but after a few bad experiences I figured there were other hobbies that were less hard on my body. I know that Brian’s grandpa would really be proud of him, and I’m sure that he’s looking down on him right now and smiling.

When Kim came up to the cabin at the end of the week I had to head home for hockey tryouts. The next couple of days they went riding on the trails around our cabin and then trailered the horses to the Suomi Trails between Marcell and Grand Rapids. Brian said they packed a lunch in the saddlebags and rode the trail into the Chippewa National Forest. Brian said it was a beautiful ride and that there are about six small lakes along the trail that you can only get to afoot or on horseback. (I always wanted to say that).

It was a great time to be up north enjoying the outdoors with Brian and the perfect weather made it just that much better. This is another chapter added to the album of good family memories.

My three grandsons were headed up to the cabin for MEA vacation, and they are looking forward to doing some hunting. In the week we were there we saw a few grouse nearby and Brian flushed some up while horseback riding not far from our place. Trevor, the oldest, will usually find the birds if they are in the area, and his brothers won’t be far behind.

The pheasant hunting, wild turkey and waterfowl seasons are open now and the deer hunting opener is just around the corner on Saturday, Nov. 6. With that in mind always remember to follow the rules, enjoy the outdoors and have a safe hunt.

Remember our brothers and sisters who are proudly serving our country so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we have today.

Dick Herfindahl’s outdoors column appears in Friday’s Tribune.