Column: Don’t blame the chubby little rodent for the late spring

Published 10:57 am Saturday, March 30, 2013

Here we go again! Another week has gone by and the weather can still be the main topic of conversation at morning coffee. Just the other day, I heard on the old television set that someone was going to sue Punxsutawney Phil for making the wrong prediction about spring. I’ve got news for that someone — if we sued the weather folks every time they made a mistake — it would create a lot of rich lawyers. Let’s face it, that chubby little rodent has no clue as to what the weather will do anyway. I have always suspected that Groundhog Day was created by someone who had a severe case of cabin fever and was looking for a little comic relief.

As the days get longer and the temperatures gradually begin to creep a little higher on the old dipstick, I can almost find myself getting a little excited about spring. I am really feeling the need to head north to the cabin for a few days, but I will need to wait at least a couple more weeks, because I’ve heard from a reliable source that the snow is still waist deep back where our cabin is.

Just the thought of spring and summer has visions of fish jumping in my head. I can almost smell the pine trees, as I take this imaginary trip through dreamland in search of that first cast to open water on a northern Minnesota lake. I don’t mean to say that we can’t have the same fishing experience here at home, but I fear that northern Minnesota has stolen my heart.

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I have spent many years going north for one or two weeks a year but now I have a cabin to go to and more time to spend when I get there, so it makes it hard to stay away. I spent most of my younger days fishing the many lakes of our area, experiencing some really enjoyable times. As a youth, the lakes that I frequented most — other than Fountain — were St. Olaf and Beaver Lakes. Both lakes have always been good to me as far as fishing fun, and this summer I will make it a point to revisit each of them at least one time. Although I’ve not fished them for several years, I still remember St. Olaf as a good northern, bass and crappie lake; while Beaver offered up walleye along with bass and crappie.

When I was a kid, my folks would take me to St. Olaf or Beaver and let me fish off shore, while they visited friends. That was as close as I’d usually get to going up north, but it didn’t matter to me, because I was just excited to be able to fish some different lakes. When we would drive to one of those lakes, that unmistakable feeling of excitement would kick in when the landscape started telling me that we were nearing the lake.

I think the best part was the fact that I could catch something other than the bullheads and bluegills we would catch back at the mink farm. The mink farm actually sat where Bancroft Bay Park is today. The house that I grew up in on Bridge Street originally sat on mink farm property before the folks bought it and moved it to its present location.

Once or twice a year Mom, Dad and their friends would rent a pontoon boat at St. Olaf on a Sunday afternoon, and we’d fish and have a picnic on the lake. One of those times, my dad took my grandma along, and she really seemed to enjoy it, but I got the feeling that he probably enjoyed doing it even more. My dad was not a fisherman, but he did love being on the lake and being in the outdoors. Mom and I were the ones who liked to fish, so whenever he was able to take us someplace where we had a chance to do that, he would. I think that it made him feel like he was doing his part to make sure we were doing something we loved to do.

Looking back at my younger days, I have actually fished a lot of lakes in this part of the state. I have caught some nice northern on Jefferson and Madison lakes. Reeds Lake is still probably the lake that I enjoyed fishing the most. I used to take the boys fishing with me to Reeds on the opener and also other times during the summer. That lake used to be good for walleye early on, and you could always catch northern along with some dandy bass as summer progressed. We used to fish that lake every opener, but eventually there just got to be too many boats for the size of the lake.

As long as I’m talking area lakes, I can’t leave out Tetonka Lake in Waterville. I had a camper on that lake for eight years and enjoyed the time that I spent at Best Point. It can be a very good fishing lake at times, and although I don’t really like to eat them, the striped bass are really fun to catch. If you can find them at the right time, the action can be non-stop. This lake pretty much has it all: northern, walleye, bass, crappie, sunnies and even some muskie. The lake tends to get a little green as the summer moves on, but as far as the fishing, it’s pretty hard to beat.

Hey, I think I’d better check my tackle boxes again, and I know that one of my fishing reels still needs new line. That should pacify me for a little while, until I can make a trip to the fishing aisle of one or more of our area stores.

Until next time, let’s get out and enjoy the almost spring-like weather and take in the beauty of the outdoors.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers, because they are the reason we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.


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