Day dreaming can take you to your favorite lake

Published 6:00 am Sunday, March 22, 2015

Column: Woods & Water, by Dick Herfindahl

If you are an avid fisherman wishing for summer, you have undoubtedly at one time or another daydreamed about sitting on your favorite lake somewhere in Minnesota.

Maybe I am an exception, but I’ve had the following recurring daydream many times over the past few winters. Occasionally I will take the time to relax sit back and close my eyes to do a little dreaming. It’s early morning, and I can see myself sitting in a boat on my favorite lake fishing the spot that I frequent quite often. The sun is just starting to light up the eastern sky and will soon begin burning off the morning fog.

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Picture this: before the morning sun even appears, I walk quietly down the dock to my boat. As I look out over the lake there is a light fog hovering a few feet deep atop the surface of the water. I ready my fishing pole, make sure I have my thermos of coffee standing by and then I take the minnows out of the water and untie the boat from the dock, all the while trying not to make too much noise. After pushing away from the dock, I prime the motor and give it a pull. All at once the silence is broken by the sound of the motor as it spits and sputters and then starts to run smoothly as I shift it into gear and head out into the fog in search of that lunker that I know is lying in wait for me.

Leading up to this day, I have had plenty of time to decide which of my favorite haunts I will visit first. On this particular lake, almost every bay, sand bar and rocky point seems to be calling me because they all look like they could be holding fish. But I must stick to my original plan if, for no other reason, I want to prove my theory right. As I have grown older, the trusting my instinct or gut feeling thing has been paying off fairly well. The one good thing about fishing alone is if you try something and it doesn’t work, nobody knows it.

Early morning has always been my favorite time to be on the lake, and for many years that was my alone time when I could try different things until I found what would work. I’ve caught a lot of fish over the years just by trying different methods. I attribute this mostly to longevity, not skill.

Some of my fondest memories are from the days when I had an Eagle Silent Thirty flasher that I became fairly good at reading. I would try to be the first fisherman on the lake each morning so I could stake claim to this certain area that I really liked to work. I liked to back troll along the weed edges using my small trolling motor, and I would attach a Shad Rap to my line using a barrel snap with no leader. I basically worked the Shad Rap like a jig to give it extra action as I trolled slowly along the outside weedline. This method has worked quite well for me over the years, but there is only a small window of opportunity when this is most effective. The best time to use this method is in June, but once you get to the end of June everything seems to change. During the first part of June, you could catch anything from crappie, bass and northern, but that was also when you could catch some dandy walleye hanging around the weed edges early in the morning.

When I used to vacation at Spider Lake I would find myself spending way too much time chasing the elusive walleye, when in reality that lake has so much more to offer. I finally decided that fishing walleye early in the day and late in the evening would pay off. The rest of the time I would fish for crappie, northern and of course the great toothed one: the mighty muskie. When you have kids in the boat, you are sort of limited in what type of fishing works best. My wife loves to troll for northern, so even when the kids were small and we had a tiny boat, we trolled.

When it comes to fishing with kids, I probably have more patience than most because to me it’s all about the kids. To this day, even though my sons are grown and have families of their own, I still get a good feeling whenever I see them land a nice fish. This especially holds true for the grandkids because I feel that I’ve caught my share of fish over the years so now it’s their turn to experience the joy of fishing. I take pride in the fact that I’ve been lucky enough to have introduced all of my grandsons to my way of fishing. I know that they will eventually find methods of their own and fish the way that works best for them. I feel good about being able to have shared with them, and I know that some of the old school methods will still work for them. I am looking forward to taking my granddaughter Emma fishing this summer, and when her sister, Ava, gets a little older, I will take her too. This is what keeps the old guy feeling like that kid again.

Until next time, get out and take a walk in the fresh spring air and also take a little time to enjoy the outdoors and remember that anytime is a good time to do a little fishing.

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

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