Dick Herfindahl: Sharing a few fish tales can be exhilarating

Published 2:50 pm Friday, July 19, 2019

Woods & Water by Dick Herfindahl


There are a couple of mornings a week when I enjoy having coffee with some friends. On more than one occasion the conversation has eventually gotten around to fishing. I guess if there is one topic I can revisit time and time again this is it. I not only like to share some of my fish tales, but I also enjoy listening to someone else’s’ stories about past fishing experiences. There is something about having a conversation about fishing and the outdoors in general that is exhilarating to me.

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I have some friends who can really tell a story that will almost put you there and if I close my eyes I can be there, if only for a fleeting moment. I do know a guy who is kind of a “one upper”, whereas any time you tell him about an event that has happened to you, he has to better it with an experience of his own, real or not, so that he can top yours.

Getting back to the folks who inspire me, I know a guy who is in his late 70’s or early 80’s and is still an avid outdoorsman. A few years ago I had decided to cancel my subscription to Outdoor News, for some unknown reason. About a year later, I had visited this person’s home and as we sat in his living room, had coffee and talked about all things outdoors, I noticed that there was a copy of Outdoor News magazine on his end table. After our visit the picture of that magazine still lingered in my head and I kept asking myself why did I quit taking that great magazine? It wasn’t long before I was re-ordering my subscription to it and still enjoy it to this day. I don’t have any stock in this magazine and I’m not promoting it for any particular reason other than I enjoy it and it really makes me feel connected to the outdoors.

I guess what I am trying to say is sometimes a person doesn’t have to have the actual experience and reading or hearing about someone’s adventure can be enough. Talking about fishing can get me fired up and make me want to wet a line so that I can experience a little outdoors adventure of my own.

I will be heading to my cabin northwest of Grand Rapids to enjoy a few days in the north woods. We have a pair of loons that have been nesting on our little lake for a few years. I have no way of knowing if this is the same pair that appears every year. I do know a pair of loons has been coming to our little lake for many years as I can remember. It is thought by scientists that loons can live up to 30 years, so if that is the case it could be the same pair. I would hope the following DNR findings do not impact the loons on our lake.

West Nile virus impacting Minnesota loon population

A recent uptick in reports of dead loons and test results indicate an impact from West Nile virus (WNV), according to nongame wildlife staff at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Minnesota confirmed WNV as the cause of death in two of three dead loons from northeastern Minnesota earlier this month. Wildlife staff are receiving a small but noticeable increase in calls from people finding dead loons in northeastern Minnesota this summer.

WNV was first confirmed in Minnesota in 2002 and was documented as a cause of loon mortality in Minnesota as early as 2005. It is not uncommon for people, animals and birds to be exposed to WNV through mosquito bites. Most people and animals successfully fight off the virus and develop antibodies against future infection. Some birds, like loons, crows and other corvids, are especially susceptible to the infection. Researchers are attempting to discover the rates of infection among ruffed grouse.

Loons can die from a variety of illnesses and injuries and individual bird deaths are a normal occurrence and not cause for alarm.

“Minnesotans love our loons and it’s concerning for people to find them dead,” said nongame wildlife specialist Gaea Crozier. “When we start seeing multiple birds dying on a single lake, we want to know about it so we can start tracking the information and determine when further testing is warranted. While there isn’t a way to treat the West Nile virus infection, knowing the cause can help us rule out other, preventable causes of mortality.”

Lake homeowners and other lake users who observe two or more dead loons on a single lake with no obvious injury or cause of death are asked to email the nearest DNR nongame wildlife staff for tracking:

• Bemidji/northwest area: Christine Herwig, christine.herwig@state.mn.us.

• Grand Rapids/northeast area: Gaea Crozier, gaea.e.crozier@state.mn.us.

• Metro/Central Minnesota: Lori Naumann, lori.naumann@state.mn.us.

• New Ulm/southern Minnesota: Lisa Gelvin-Innvaer, lisa.gelvin-innvaer@state.mn.us.

• Until next time, I will soon be enjoying the wonderful sound of the loons calling to each other on our little lake. There is no sound that makes me feel more connected to the outdoors than that of the loon.

Please remember to keep our troops in your prayers. We must not let ourselves forget those who are still putting themselves in harm’s way so we can enjoy all of the wonderful freedoms we have today.