Remembering a late fall trip to Spider Lake

Published 12:39 pm Saturday, September 7, 2013

Column: Woods and Water, by Dick Herfindahl

After spending a few days in northern Minnesota, I’m recharged and ready to go. Go where? I don’t really know, but I always feel revitalized after spending time in the North Woods. There is just something about it that makes being that close to nature feel right.

Over the past several years, I’ve made an annual trip north in October, and at that time of year the weather can go either way. There have been years when it’s been sunny with fairly good temperatures, and then there have been the snowy, windy and cold days. The one predictable thing about fall weather in the north country is that it is totally unpredictable.

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One of the most memorable October trips I have taken was with my oldest son, Brian. We planned a combination hunting and fishing trip and were staying in a cabin on Spider Lake. It snowed a few days prior to our arrival, and the temperatures never rose above the high 30s the whole time. Brian was into bow hunting for deer at the time, and Dave, the resort owner, told him of a place where he could put his stand that would give him the best chance to spot deer.

Spider Lake is in the middle of the Chippewa National Forest, which is public land.

Each morning Brian would rise up early and take that short drive to his stand where he’d sit for a couple of hours waiting for a good shot. The place where he put his stand was actually on a well-worn deer trail, and in the time that we were there, he had seen quite a few deer but wasn’t able to get a clean shot at any of them. After a couple of hours in the stand, he would come back to the cabin for breakfast and then we were ready to hit the lake. Now, I still have vivid memories of the time spent on the lake trying to get my cold fingers to bait a hook or tie a jig; it was like my brain couldn’t convince my fingers to follow directions. I don’t think we could spend more than two hours at one time on the lake. It was windy and cold with a few snow squalls thrown in just to make it that much more memorable. As I sat on the lake with corn snow pelting me in the face, I thought that this must be what it feels like to get shot by a BB gun.

After spending time on the lake in those conditions, that warm cabin with its oil stove was a welcome relief. We would warm up and have a bite to eat and settle in for a little nap before hitting the lake again for another couple of hours. We didn’t catch a lot of fish on that trip nor did Brian bag that deer that he was seeking, but I still cherish the memory of that trip and the time that we spent together one cold week in October.

Now that we have a cabin of our own, Brian and I have almost made that October trip a yearly tradition. He hasn’t bow hunted for a few years but likes to hunt grouse and waterfowl. Over the past few years, we have been able to get out fishing a few times and the late fall northern fishing has been pretty good on some of the area lakes that we like to frequent.

There is something that just feels right about spending time at the cabin with a fire burning in the woodstove while snowflakes flutter past the window. I have been at the cabin many times over the years when snow has been on the ground, and although it lessens the desire to fish, there is still something special about that experience.

I don’t know if Brian and I will make that trip this year, but I am planning on heading to the cabin in mid-October with my grandson, Dylan, and hopefully Brad, his dad, will be able to go along, too. Dylan has become pretty excited about musky fishing, so hopefully the weather will cooperate and we’ll be able to spend at least one day at Spider Lake searching for the toothed ones. Late fall is supposed to be the best time for big musky, and if you’re seeking a trophy of almost any species, it is the best time of year to get that wall hanger. I have had pretty good luck fishing late in the fall, and now I hope I will be able to see Dylan catch that lunker he is looking for.


Musky talk

Our September meeting of Southern Cross Roads Chapter 54 of Muskies Inc. will be at the Eagles Club in Owatonna at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Our guest speaker will be Rob Kimm. Rob is well known for his articles on musky fishing. He has been a speaker at our annual banquet. Our meetings consist of informative speakers, updates, door prizes, a raffle and a lot of musky talk. We meet the second Wednesday of every month. You do not need to be a member to attend. Bring a friend and help support musky fishing in southern Minnesota.

The chapter’s fall outing is Sept. 28. Mark it down. More info at our meeting on Wednesday!

Until next time, fall is a great time to enjoy a little time in the great Minnesota 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.