Visit to Lake Tetonka brings back good memories

Published 6:00 am Sunday, July 12, 2015

Column: Woods & Water, by Dick Herfindahl

This past Monday I was returning home from Minneapolis when, on a whim, I decided to take a side trip at Faribault.

I visited the Waterville area and Best Point Resort, which sits on Lake Tetonka just west of town. We had kept a camper there for about eight years before we decided to buy land up north and build a cabin. It had been a few years since I had been there, and I thought it would be fun to take a little trip down memory lane.

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As I turned on the road to the resort, I decided to visit the public access before going to the resort. I found that it was just as nice as I had remembered it. Once I had checked that out, I headed to the resort. Although it had been raining very hard for some time, it began to subside just as I arrived.

At the campground, I found that things were pretty much as I had remembered them. Some things never change because with the rain a lot of the folks were sitting on the porch outside the office. This was always a good place to hang out and catch up on the latest gossip on rainy days.

The owners, Jerry and Linda Miller, weren’t around, but I talked to Roger, who is from Iowa and has had a camper at Best Point for many years. He was working on his sewer, which backed up with the rain.

That’s when I realized there were certain things about having a permanent campsite that I didn’t miss.

As I looked around the campground, I remembered the good times, like sitting around the campfire in the evening swapping fish tales with friends. The campfires were always fun, and it seems that nothing brings folks together like sitting around a good campfire.

The convenience of having my boat close by and being able to jump in and go fishing any time is probably one of the things that I miss the most about camping. It is always fun to reflect back on the good times and the good people that I met during the eight years I had my camper at Best Point.

I have often thought about coming back there and tenting for a weekend with one or more of the grandkids. I have mentioned it to Dylan, my son Brad’s boy, about possibly doing that, and he seemed to be on board. I think it would be fun to get up early and hit the lake at sunrise.

I don’t know how fishing has been on Tetonka lately, but this lake has always been a good panfish lake. Over the years, I have also caught my share of walleye, northern and bass, but some of the best times were when the white bass or stripers were biting.

Now, although I have tried many times, I never could quite find a way to fix those fish to make them not taste a little strong. My brother-in-law, Mike, tried everything imaginable to turn them into tasty fillets. He tried soaking them in milk, soaking them in 7-Up, and just plain salt water. No matter what he did, they just always seemed to taste just a little fishy.

Now that I’ve told you the negative part of fishing stripers, I have to tell you the good part: this fish is an excellent fighter. I don’t believe that there is anything more fun than getting into a school of stripers. Using an ultra-lite setup with light line and casting a jig can be a blast because these fish can definitely put up a fight. Talk about fun. I don’t think that there are too many fish that pound-for-pound will give you a better battle.

I don’t know what the striper population on Tetonka is today, but when I had my camper there, they were pretty abundant. I would definitely recommend striper fishing to anyone who wants to have some good old-fashioned fishing fun. I don’t know if there is a best time to fish them, but two of the best striper experiences I’ve had were at different times of the day.

On one occasion, my brother-in-law, Mike, and I were trolling beetle spins tipped with fathead minnows in the middle of the day going from the south shore to the north shore and back. Many of the fish we caught were right in the middle of the lake, and we did catch a lot of fish.

On another occasion, my grandson, Trevor, and I were doing some evening fishing with Mike, and we found that the fish were hanging right off this rocky point. Trevor, of course, was in the front of the boat, and he was bringing in one after another. The heavy bite lasted about half an hour and then tapered off. Trevor was about 12 at the time, and an experience like that couldn’t help but make his love of fishing even stronger. I always feel that once kids get a taste of fishing success, it will always stay with them.

Trevor is all about fishing, hunting and the outdoors, and his brothers also like to hunt and fish, but not to the extent that Trevor does. One of the main reasons why I am glad that the all of my grandsons enjoy these great sports is because it is something that they can enjoy for the rest of their lives. This is why it is important to me that I pass on my love of the outdoors to my sons and grandkids so that it will be there for generations to come.

Until next time, enjoy the summer and take advantage of the weather, but most of all just get out and spend 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.