August is a great month to enjoy the Minn. outdoors

Published 2:00 pm Saturday, August 3, 2013

Column: Woods and Water, by Dick Herfindahl

I believe that it is a fair assumption to say that a lot of folks have attended this year’s Freeborn County Fair. It was almost my favorite summer event, taking a close second to fishing. My favorite part of the fair was the stock car races that were held for many years during the fair. The fair meant that instead of racing on the five-mile track in front of the grandstand, the cars — for a few years — raced on the half-mile track that circled the outside of the infield. This ended shortly after a car went through the fence, rolled and ended up on Richway Drive. I believe they still had modified stock car and 3/4 midget car races for a few years after, but that too eventually stopped. I sure did miss those Friday night races at the fairgrounds after they were discontinued. As kids we all had our racing heroes, and I’m sure that it’s still that way today for those who follow NASCAR or the races at area speedways.

I can also remember when harness racing was a big event at the fair, but it is something that you just don’t hear much about anymore. There are still some fairs in Minnesota that have harness racing, and the Running Aces track north of the cities also has them. Iowa seems to be one of the more popular Midwestern states for harness racing.

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The other day, as I was on my morning walk by the channel near Frank Hall Park, I caught a whiff of the water and it reminded me of late summer days spent at the “crick” on Bridge Avenue. As kids, whenever our parents asked where we were going, we would simply say, “the bridge” and nothing more needed to be said. In the spring we couldn’t wait for the first open water, and we’d be there at the bridge waiting for the first sign of life to appear. Most of the time we’d spot minnows and tadpoles before any larger fish appeared. That little crick held many mysteries that nature must have put there purposely for us kids to enjoy. As we moved further into summer, the visits to our favorite haunt grew less frequent, because as the water level got lower, it seemed like there was less and less activity in the form of wildlife.

I always enjoyed hearing the red-winged blackbirds calling to each other and thought it was exciting when a yellow-winged one would appear. One year in mid-August I spotted two bright green water snakes swimming near the bridge. I have never been a big snake person, so after that day I don’t think I spent a lot of time at the bridge for the rest of that particular summer.

There were also certain smells of that crick that were like no other: the smell of stagnant water that I experienced on my walk by the channel had reminded me of the many late summer days spent at the bridge. There was a time when one of the kids said he had been told that it was the smell of a neighbor’s sewage that was being dumped into the crick. I don’t know if there was any truth to that, but it was our story and we were sticking to it. There was also no mistaking the smell that you could experience at sunset when the dew of the evening seemed to overtake the slough and cool everything down. As night crept in, the sound of birds chirping was replaced by that of the bullfrogs and crickets that were showing up for the night shift. That old bridge was our main hangout for most of the summer, and it sure has left me with a lot of good memories.

As a kid I always associated August with hot weather, when in all reality, temperature wise, it is probably one of the best months. The days are usually warm and sunny, while the nights cool off nicely making for great sleeping weather. August can also be good fishing weather. Early morning can produce nice bass if you can find open pockets in weed beds or underwater weed lines. You can usually find them close to shore, under docks or around fallen trees most any time of year. I’ve found that August has always been pretty good to me when it comes to bass fishing.

Now that we are into the dog days of summer, our thoughts may turn to other things like the early goose season or the deer hunting archery season, both of which are just around the corner. Take a look at the following seasons that open in the beginning of September in the box.

Until next time, enjoy the outdoors and maybe even take a little time to hang out by a lake, do a little fishing or find that bridge of your own.

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.

Upcoming hunting seasons

• Early Canada Goose season
(Sept. 1 to Sept. 20)

• Snipe and Rail season
(Sept. 1 to Nov. 4)

• Small game season: rabbits and squirrels
(Sept. 14 to Feb. 28)

• Sharptailed Grouse season
(Sept. 14 to Nov. 30)

• Ruffed and Spruce Grouce and Hungarian Partirdge season (Sept. 14 to Jan. 1)

• Deer archery season
(Sept 14 to Dec. 31)