Herfindahl: Fishing is heating up in area

Published 3:15 pm Sunday, June 26, 2011

Have you noticed the amount of fishermen lining the banks along the channel between the lakes in Albert Lea? The walleyes that we have been seeking since opening day have finally decided to eat. The best bite has been between 8:30 p.m. and midnight.

It is funny how when things change they still seem to stay the same. When I was a youth growing up on the northside of town, I dreamt of days catching walleye and northern which, except for an occasional northern, were found in lakes other than the ones I had access to.

In the spring there were people lining the banks along Pickerel Lake catching bullheads, and that seemed to be the fish of choice in early spring for many people. In fact, many folks drove from out of town just to fish those whiskered swimmers.

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Oh there were stories about some old timers who knew certain secret spots on Fountain Lake where “slab” crappie were there for the catching. I actually witnessed one such bucket full that this guy my dad called Old John had caught. They were the biggest crappies I had ever seen and it was rumored that he used to sit on the bank somewhere down behind the greenhouse on Fountain Lake. The time of day and technique that Old John used were never discovered by me. In fact, I don’t know if anyone actually ever saw him fishing. This was one mystery that was played over and over in a young aspiring fisherman’s head.

As a kid I’d spend a lot of my time reading about fishing and dreaming of the day Uncle Ben would call and ask if I could go with him and Aunt Marcie up north. I can remember the early mornings that I’d stand in the front yard staring down Bridge Street toward town hoping that the next headlight would be them.

I probably knew just about every species of fish that swam that crick between Fountain and Goose Lakes. My neighbor, Roger, was a couple years older than I and on occasion he’d ask me to go with him in his dad’s duck boat and explore the slough. It was always fun if not a little scary with the leaky boat and all. Roger had the old time version of a bilge pump — me and a two-pound Hills Brothers coffee can. It was always a fun adventure but usually ended on a sour note when our moms found out what we were up to. This, however, never deterred us from trying it again.

As I grew older and returned from the service, I married and found that my wife, Jean, liked to fish and loved going to northern Minnesota. Over the years we enjoyed vacationing in northern Minnesota near Grand Rapids. I also liked fishing many of the lakes in our neck of the woods. Whenever I’d hear of a lake that the fish were biting on, the kid in me would come out and I’d have to try it for myself. When our kids were small we’d take them to area lakes like St. Olaf and Beaver, just like my folks did for me when I was growing up. This was one way that I was passing something that I valued dearly on to my kids.

There were many holiday weekends spent camping at different lakes around the area. We camped on Lake Tetonka for many years on Memorial Day and over the Fourth of July we’d try lakes like Jefferson/German, and Francis. There was a campground on St. Olaf that we stayed at a few times. These were all good times and created some great family memories.

We have some nice fisheries in Fountain and Albert Lea Lakes. Fishing Fountain in the summer can sometimes be a challenge because it is a recreational lake that also has water skiers and recreational boaters. I’d say that the best time to fish Fountain in the summer would be early morning.

Now my oldest grandson, Trevor, is working on my old fishing boat and wants to start using it on our area lakes. He does a lot of fishing in Albert Lea Lake and using the old boat will be right down his alley. It’s a good feeling knowing that he will be using that old boat. I know that there were some who were wondering what I was holding on to it for — now they know.

Please remember the service men and women that are protecting our freedoms in your thoughts and prayers.

Dick Hefindahl’s column appears each Sunday in the Tribune.