Dick Herfindahl: It’s been an exciting time for our area

Published 7:45 pm Friday, May 10, 2019

Woods & Water by Dick Herfindahl


By the time this column appears in print, the 2019 Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener will just about be history. It has been a lot of work for a lot of folks, but I have to say I am really impressed with how members of the community have come together, rolled up their sleeves and gotten it done. That shows what kind of pride the members of our community have in Albert Lea and the surrounding area. All of that work is paying off and has been well worth it.

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This is about the farthest south that a Governor’s Fishing Opener has ever been held. It is actually only the fifth time that a Southern Minnesota community has done so.

The Governor’s Fishing Opener is a non-political event which brings politicians from both sides of the aisle into our community. These visitors have come to Albert Lea to experience some of the many great things that we have to offer. Our Watershed District has done a great job in cleaning up our lakes and streams and with the ongoing dredging project they are taking it to the next level. A lot of the credit for cleaning up our lakes and streams can be attributed grants acquired through the Lessard-SAMS bill.

If there is one thing I have taken away from the months of work and planning, it is an appreciation of working alongside a lot of wonderful people. This is what makes the Albert Lea area such a great community, people working together for a cause. People are always willing to step up and help out a neighbor or in this case put their best foot forward to show the rest of the state and surrounding states what a great place we live in. We have had many wonderful sponsors who have donated to this event either monetarily or by donating food, products and time.

When I sit down to write my next column it will be from a different perspective. I am usually sharing my experiences of visiting and fishing in some other community that has been showcased at the Governor’s Opener. This time, if I am lucky, I may also be sharing a fish tale or two.

The honing of my fishing prowess will have to wait until the dust has settled and the last visitor has ridden off into the sunset. In case you haven’t figured it out, I did watch a lot of westerns growing up. Before I take my first visit of the season to the cabin I will have to fish a couple of the local lakes just to see if our visitors have left us any fish.

We ended up having a full contingent of fishing hosts, which didn’t look like it would be possible for a while. The volunteer fishing hosts are the people that make this event possible. I cannot say enough good about all of the boat hosts who have volunteered their time to make this work.

We have tried to fill all of the boats, but the media and other guests all have different requests like fishing with two or three other folks in a boat which may cause someone else to come up short. It is all good because the media people are the ones who give us the exposure that promotes our area of the state.

I have fished on all of the designated lakes numerous times over my many years. I still marvel at the number of and quality of fish that swim in these waters. I really believe that over the course of time I have pretty much fished every inch of Fountain Lake. It all started with the first time my mother consented to let me ride my bike to town on my very first fishing expedition.

At first, I would fish below the dam on Bridge for a couple of hours and then I would inch my way along the shore to Katherine Island. By the end of the day I can only imagine what I smelled like. Taking countless bullheads and what we called “rubber tails” off of the hook gave you bloody hands and then there were the holes that the bullheads would poke into them. It took some time to master the art of removing a hook without getting poked.

I always look back at those early days with fondness. I wish that I could relay the feelings that I have when given the opportunity to show folks from other parts of the state all of the resources that we enjoy right here.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers. We must never forget those who are still putting themselves in harm’s way so we can enjoy all of the wonderful freedoms we have today.