Dick Herfindahl: Suffering withdrawal after last cabin visit

Published 11:18 pm Friday, September 27, 2019

Woods & Water by Dick Herfindahl


I am still suffering from withdrawal symptoms after what was probably my last cabin visit of the season. When I left there this time it really didn’t seem like it was my last visit, but I have to face the facts that even though I am somewhat retired, I have kind of a busy schedule ahead. Working part-time at the City Arena, writing my column, doing yard work and spending time with my family are all things that keep me going.

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I had told my grandson Dylan that I would try to get away for a few days and go north one more time to do some musky fishing with him and I still have hopes of doing that before the lakes ice over. He is on the St. Cloud State rugby team so his Saturdays are out for a while, so with our schedules it doesn’t look all that promising. It seems that when you get to be a certain age there are also more doctor’s appointments to fit into the mix.

When looking back to my days a teenager I can remember getting out of bed some mornings and checking my armpits to see if there were any signs of hair growing, which I took as one of the signs of becoming a man. Then when the chest hairs made their initial appearance it made me feel like pounding my chest as Tarzan did in his TV show. Later came the initial facial hairs that eventually needed to be attended to. These were all sure signs of becoming an adult to a young teenager. Nobody mentioned to me that when I got older I would be shaving the hair that was now growing on my ears. I can still remember my Uncle Harvey and how he had hair growing on and in his ears but I never associated that with old age at the time nor did I think it would happen to me.

I told Dylan the next time he comes home we can do a little fishing on one of the local lakes. I said if muskies are still on his wish list we could try French Lake near Faribault. That is probably one of, if not the best, Musky lake in all of southern Minnesota. It has been quite a few years ago now when a friend and his brother fished that lake on a November day and actually caught and released 17 muskies on that day. That is almost unheard of in the world of musky fishing. They are called the fish of 10,000 casts for a reason and although I have caught my share over the years, I have never caught any larger than what was estimated to be 23 pounds. Catch and release is pretty much the protocol these days because the catch and keep limit of one of the “toothed ones” now has a minimum size on inland waters of 54 inches.

In the many years that we vacationed at Spider Lake I would spend a few hours of each day fishing for those fierce fighting fish. Over the years I have caught my share but none of them would have been keepers with today’s limit size. It doesn’t matter because I have a Tiger musky on the wall that is only 40-inches long. I caught the fish when the minimum size was 36-inches and the only reason that I kept it was that it inhaled my lure and ripped its gills which meant it wouldn’t survive. My wife landed the fish and jokingly asked “what is it a carp?”  When we got back to the resort I asked the resort owner, whose nickname was Bid, what I should do with it and he said to get it mounted. There was a guy staying at the resort who happened to be a taxidermist and after we had talked to him Bid said he would pack it in dry ice and ship it for me.  I have to say it really made a beautiful mount. In the years since that time I have always said no matter how large of a musky I catch I already have a mount so any one that I catch after that will strictly be catch and release. The minimum size that is in place today pretty much assures me that I personally will never even be tempted to break that promise.

Last year when Dylan and I were fishing on Moose Lake, which is north of Deer River, we were there fishing strictly for musky. We had caught a couple of small pike before Dylan had a huge musky follow his lure to the boat. We both saw the fish and after a few figure eights the fish turned and slowly swam away. If Dylan wasn’t hooked on musky fishing before that, he definitely is now.

Over the years the musky has always held a certain mystique for me. I am not really sure why but I believe that it is the kid in me that still thinks that the “big one” is lying in wait just around the next bend or point on the lake. Even as I grow older there is still this feeling of excitement that comes over me each time I make a cast or venture out on the lake. I believe it is the unknown factor of not knowing just what kind of fish could be on the other end of your line. That is what makes the sport of fishing such a great sport.

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