Dick Herfindahl: The dog days of summer are officially upon us

Published 10:39 pm Friday, August 3, 2018

Woods & Water by Dick Herfindahl


We are in that time of the season that most fisher-folks call the “Dog Days of Summer,” which are sometimes appropriately named. Fishing around this area has been slow as of late, I guess that the fishing has been giving credence to the “Dog Days” name.

Email newsletter signup

I have to confess that when my kids were growing up, we didn’t take in the fair on a regular basis. It had nothing to do with not wanting to take them there, but it had everything to do with vacation. I worked at Wilson’s at the time and getting a weeks vacation during the summer was almost impossible if you were low on the seniority list. Most folks steered away from taking a vacation during fair week, so that was the one week that would be open.

I was all about family vacations back then, so we would take that week and head north to Spider Lake for a week of fishing and camping. You had to fish hard if you wanted to put any fish on the stringer, but hard work paid off and we always had fish to put in the freezer at the lodge. The resort owner who everyone called Bid, would tell folks that no matter how tough the fishing gets Herfindahl always puts fish in the freezer. I knew that he was 75 percent B.S., but he always had a way of getting me pumped up about fishing.

My typical day of fishing involved getting up early, heading down to the boat and being on the water before anyone else. I always felt like I had overslept if I would hear the sound of another boat heading down the lake before me. August mornings were very often foggy because of the cooldown that takes place on a typical August morning. There were times when the fog was so thick that you could barely see past the bow of the boat. These times were way before GPS came into play, but I knew the lake so I would venture out, sticking fairly close to shore until I had reached this little bay a few hundred yards from the resort. I would cast hard baits or a jig and minnow until the morning sun started to burn off the fog as if unveiling a new day for me to enjoy.

On a typical day, I would be on the lake by 5:30 a.m. and would fish until about 8, when I would come in for breakfast. After breakfast, all four of us would venture out and troll for northern or any other fish that would take our bait. We would fish until around noon or so and then we would come in for lunch and relax for a couple of hours. We would usually head back out around 4 p.m. and fish until dark. This would be a typical day for us except for evening when the boys would sometimes beg us to call it a day early so we could have a campfire and roast hotdogs and make S’mores.

A campfire is one of the essentials when you camp, which pretty much goes without saying but I said it anyway. For years, we had a screen tent that we would put up near our pickup camper. It allowed us to eat outside and also kept us from being eaten alive by the mosquitoes. On more than one occasion we had skunks roaming freely about the campground. One night we had one inside the screen tent eating scraps that had fallen on the ground from the meal.

It was not unusual to be sitting by the fire and have a skunk appear under your chair, again it was looking for food scraps. One Saturday morning as I was heading to the lodge to check out, I noticed a couple of skunks hanging out under the office deck. It was like they had a bunch of barn cats running around the resort. The next year they had done something to rectify the skunk situation. It was kind of funny because they seemed to be quite comfortable co-existing with humans.

One year while camping at Spider Lake, there was a bear that would visit the resort every other night, just like clockwork. One night the boys vowed to stay awake until they saw the bear, but like so many other plans of youth they fell asleep before the bear arrived. I was awake and heard it walk right next to our camper looking for food. It actually destroyed a garbage can that had been chained to a cabin wall. After that, it moved on to another cabin and while trying to get into the garbage can it fell through the screen door scaring an elderly couple who were playing cards at the kitchen table.

You don’t have to be sitting in the middle of the woods, like my cabin does, to have wildlife around. I guess that part of the mystique of being in the north woods is having a chance encounter with a critter. I usually am satisfied with seeing them on my game camera, every once-in-a-while you will get the chance to witness one close-up and personal. We have had deer, a badger and a bear venture close to the cabin during the day and the bear even came up on our deck and peered into the cabin through the deck door.

Until next time, enjoy the outdoors and maybe even take a little time to hang out by a lake, wet a line or just sit back, relax and take it all in.

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