Hard-water fishing will need to be put on hold

Published 9:00 am Sunday, December 13, 2015

Woods & Water by Dick Herfindahl

We have — to say the least — been experiencing some unseasonably warm weather for December.

There have been a few times in past years when we had similar weather, and I can recall one time not too long ago when someone waterskied on Fountain Lake in a Santa Claus suit in December.

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Now, if you are an avid ice fisherman, I am sure you probably do not see the humor in this, but after all it is Minnesota, where you can expect the unexpected when it comes to the weather.

I, for one, am not a die-hard ice fisherman, but I’d guess you could say that I dabble in it from time to time.

For the more enthusiastic hard-water fishermen, this might be compared to me waiting anxiously for the ice to be off of the lakes and the open-water season to be under way.

I have witnessed a few die-hard fishermen who have been taking advantage of the open water, but I have not heard how they fared.

There was a time when I took advantage of open water up until the lakes iced over.

There was one particular time when I bought a brand new baitcasting reel and a state-of-the-art — for that time — Browning graphite rod at a closeout sale at Bergland’s Sporting Goods, and I was anxious to try it out.

It was mid-November, and I was in the process of shingling my garage, but I planned to stop and go to my niece’s birthday party. That was when I got this brilliant idea to go to the lake and make a few casts before I left for the party. It was cold and windy, so I only fished for a short while, but still managed to catch a small northern.

After that, I was satisfied that I had made a good buy and headed back home to drop off my fishing pole and pick up the family. After getting my tackle box and fishing pole out of the backseat, I leaned my pole against the car and started to take the box into the house when a wind gust pushed my rod forward, while the car door blew shut almost all in one motion. The rod broke off just inches above the handle.

Needless to say, I was pretty devastated by the sad state of affairs I created for myself. After moping around for a few days, I decided there was no fix suitable for the rod and decided to mail it in to the manufacturer. I explained what happened and asked if they could possibly fix it. I offered to pay for any repairs.

A couple of weeks went by before a long tube arrived in the mail. I opened it to see if they had indeed fixed it. They actually did one better. They replaced it with a new one. On the invoice it said, “Replacement for factory defect.”

I couldn’t have been happier that a company like Browning would do that for a customer. I used that rod for many years before it finally met its demise by being stepped on in the boat by one of the grandsons. I could never get mad about it, so I just looked at it as retiring one of my favorite fishing rods and moved on.

My grandson, Dylan, being the nice kid he is, insisted on replacing it. Although, you could say it was payback for me breaking one of his rods. Here is a little tip for the other grandkids: Never let grandpa get a snag out for you. He might end up breaking your fishing pole.

I have always loved fishing our lake and other small lakes in the area around our cabin because it involves fishing out of a small boat. This is how I grew up fishing, and old-time fishing has always been my favorite way to go.

Unfortunately time has taken its toll on my body, and arthritis in the joints makes me much less nimble than I once was. Getting in and out of a boat takes some doing these days, and whenever I am getting ready to make my exit, it takes some serious planning on my part.

The old saying about the “ best laid plans” can surely apply to a couple of my not-so-smooth exits from my small fishing boat.

The first one was a few years ago while fishing with my oldest son, Brian, on one of our favorite lakes to fish in the fall. It is strictly a northern pike lake that we have always had good luck on.

After a couple of hours of fishing, we decided to take a little break, so we pulled up to shore and began to exit the little craft.

Brian was in the front, so he got out and held the boat while the skipper attempted to exit. Unfortunately, as I rose from my seat, my knee buckled, and I lunged forward falling out of the boat and landed in cold water. Luckily the only thing that happened was that I got soaked, and nothing was hurt but my pride.

The next incident was a year ago with my grandson, Dylan, while fishing our little lake in the fall. He was rowing the boat, and when we decided to call it a day, he turned the boat and backed it up to shore so that the transom — or wide end — was on shore.

Dylan said this would probably make it easier for me to exit said boat. Unfortunately, my body had other plans. As I stood up, my heel caught under the seat, I lost my balance and my other leg buckled as I twisted in mid-air and landed on my back in the water with my feet still in the boat.

I just laid there for a few seconds trying to plan my next move to get up without tipping the boat over. Finally, with Dylan’s help, I was able to get ashore in an upright position.

Now, I have to feel that in both instances Brian and Dylan did an admiral job of trying to hold in the laughter that was surely much deserved. Yes, this was not an example of boat safety at its best.

Until next time, take advantage of the mild weather we have been experiencing and maybe even grab the fishing pole and make that one last cast to open water.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers, especially during the upcoming holiday season. 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.