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Take a leisurely drive to enjoy area’s fall colors

Wildlife can be seen in the area of the Jugland Bridge where the Shellrock River flows out of Albert Lea Lake. — Dick Herfindahl/Albert Lea Tribune

Wildlife can be seen in the area of the Jugland Bridge where the Shellrock River flows out of Albert Lea Lake. — Dick Herfindahl/Albert Lea Tribune

Column: Woods & Water, by Dick Herfindahl

Our area farmers have been pretty lucky so far when it comes to the weather, which has been cooperating so the fall harvest is in full-speed-ahead mode.

This is the time of year that we need to take extra caution when driving in many of our rural areas. With the farm work that is going on, farmers will be moving their equipment from field to field.

I know that some of us may get a little frustrated when following a big tractor or combine, but I always remind myself that harvest time doesn’t last forever but an accident can.

From what I’ve been hearing, area bow hunters haven’t been seeing many deer, but I assume that will change once the weather turns cold and the corn is out.

Now is the time of year when we can really start enjoying the fall colors. Taking a drive in the country can be a very exhilarating experience. I always especially enjoy this time of year as those who read my column must know by now.

Taking a leisurely drive in the country on a sunny day can be very rewarding because there is plenty of wildlife to be seen, and the countryside is painted with fall colors for our viewing enjoyment.

The other day, I spent some time with my brother-in-law, Lynn Johnson, who is home visiting from Nome, Alaska. He, along with my son, Brian, and me, drove out to South Shore Drive to look at the new dam. It was pretty impressive, and the amount of birds patiently waiting for minnows or other fish to appear was also pretty impressive.

There was a pair of eagles sitting in a tree that overhangs the river, which made the trip worthwhile in itself. There were also egrets and herons standing in the water with seagulls hovering nearby. I also noticed a flock of pelicans that were closely bunched up out on the main lake. That dam is definitely another step in the right direction when it comes to cleaning up the watershed.

I happened to speak with a person the other day who told me that his son was really into fishing. He said the boy spent most of the summer fishing the shores of Fountain Lake and just couldn’t seem to get enough. This is what being a kid in the summer is all about: making your own entertainment and enjoying a sport that will stay with you your whole life.

Hearing this reminded me of myself when I was a kid. It seems like I could never get enough of the good thing we call fishing.

If I wasn’t able to go fishing, I was reading about it, which made for some inexpensive entertainment. My love of the sport stayed with me my whole life, and I still get the feeling that I did as a kid whenever I make a cast or watch a bobber as it drifts slowly in the breeze on a peaceful sunny day. At my age, I still have that kid mentality when it comes to fishing, so I feel fairly certain that it’s there to stay.

Whenever I see or hear of one of our youth that is hooked on fishing or is into hunting, it gives me a good feeling. It also tells me that there will be future generations to carry on the preservation and maybe even the improvement of our outdoors heritage.

There are times when a person wonders about the future of some of our fishing lakes and hunting habitat. The Lessard SAMS Bill has taken us great strides in the right direction, but we still need to do more.

Mille Lacs Lake is an example of how something can sneak up on us. How did we let this happen? Now that it did happen the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is finding that there is no easy solution to the problem.

It’s easy to blame the the Mille Lacs tribe for over-netting, but that is not the core of the problem. Man wants to manage everything instead of letting things occur naturally, which in some instances is a necessity.

The DNR has been playing with the slot limits and how many fish can be kept on this lake for quite some time, so I guess I can’t understand how it has gotten to this point.

Fishing used to be simple, and for all practical purposes it still can be. You don’t need a 20-foot boat and a 200-horsepower outboard motor to enjoy the sport of fishing. What you do need is a little imagination, some free time and a willingness to sit back and just take it all in.

As a kid I didn’t need anything more than a can of worms, some hooks, weights, a bobber, line and a fishing pole that was sometimes optional if you couldn’t find a good branch. Yes, there is no better way to spend an afternoon than sitting on the shore of a lake watching a bobber. Fish are optional and not always necessary to make it an enjoyable experience.

Until next time, this is a great time to take a drive around the lake or in the country to enjoy the painted beauty of our 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.