The bite is on for most lakes in the area

Published 9:00 am Sunday, January 22, 2017

I have been hearing some very good reports about the fishing on area lakes as of late. The three closest lakes — Fountain, Albert Lea and Pickerel — have all been giving up some nice perch. On Albert Lea Lake, the small ones are aggressively attacking jigs tipped with wax worms, which seem to be the best bait for catching perch on these lakes. I have also talked to someone who caught a dandy 13-inch crappie on Fountain. Other folks I have spoken with have also reported some nice crappies, along with some decent-sized bluegills. It looks like life is good in the world of ice fishing on our area lakes. This tells me that the efforts implemented to clean up our watershed are starting to show some positive results.

I should say that when the voters of our area passed the continuance of the sales tax for the watershed by a large margin, it was a testimonial to how important the community feels our watershed is to them.

I believe we should consider ourselves lucky to live in an area that has so many good fishing lakes at our disposal. My grandson, Trevor, fished Pickerel Lake last weekend and was a little surprised to see the water was a little murky — compared to a year ago — but he said the upside to that was there were not as many weeds as last year. I wrote last year about the fact he had gone out on Pickerel and drilled a few dozen holes looking for a spot that was weed-free enough to drop his line in. For whatever reason, this year’s fishing success is a good sign for area sportsmen.

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As a hockey coach and part-time worker at City Arena, I can say I am very familiar with ice. However, this does not make walking on the ice we had on our side streets and my driveway on Monday night any easier to walk or drive on. As I grow older, I find that I have gained a lot of respect for ice that has a fresh coating of rain on it. I have occasionally almost fallen while setting nets at the arena. There was one time that sticks out in my mind: As I proceeded to move a net, I slipped on the ice and almost went down before doing a happy dance and catching myself. At that instance, I quickly looked around to see if anyone had noticed what must have been a pretty comical sight. This is my natural reaction whenever I embarrass myself. Of course, there had to be one hockey mom with a little kid sitting in the stands. She was looking right at me and laughing. So much for an oops going unnoticed. 

I am going to try and make it out fishing on one of our frozen lakes so I can stare at a hole in the ice for a couple of hours in the not-so-distant future. I will probably not be going down to the channel by Frank Hall Park, where the threat of open water lingers nearby. Just a few days ago, I drove past the bridge on Front Street and observed two fish houses sitting across from each other with some very dark ice between them. This is not a good sign. If the temperature continues its upward trend, that ice will be turning into water, so if it were me, I would be heading to one of the other lakes that has 10-20 inches of safe ice. I don’t believe in the captain going down with the ship, especially when the ship is a fish house.

If you would like to try a little open water fishing in the winter, the waters in the eastern part of the state offer just that. Stream fishing for trout is maybe not for everyone, but for those yearning to cast a line rather than staring into a hole in the ice, this just might be for you.

In southeastern Minnesota, the counties of Dodge, Goodhue, Fillmore, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Wabasha and Winona offer the opportunity to catch brook, brown, rainbow and splake. This season is catch and release only and goes until April 14.

It seems to me that in this day of hurry, hurry, hurry, many folks are on such a tight schedule that stopping for a stop sign doesn’t apply to them. Just the other day I was driving north on Frank Avenue and as I approached an intersection, two cars — one from the east and one from the west — came to their respective stop signs. One turned north, the other south and neither bothered to slow down, much less stop for the stop sign. I have seen similar scenarios like this many times over the past few years, not only in our city but anywhere USA. I should wonder if a person’s time is so valuable that they can’t follow a few simple rules. I also have to chuckle when coming to a four-way stop at the same time where four cars driven by Minnesota nice people sit there while each waits for the other one to go. When something like this happens, it restores my faith in human nature and tells me that we should all take a little time to stop and smell the roses.

Until next time, there is no time like the present to enjoy an outdoors adventure of your own, and what better way to do it than drilling a hole, sitting on a bucket and trying to catch a few fish.

Please take some time to honor those who have sacrificed so much for the freedoms we enjoy today and to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, those who served and those troops who are now serving.