Dick Herfindahl: The time my neighbor had walleye for Thanksgiving

Published 7:40 pm Friday, November 22, 2019

Woods & Water by Dick Herfindahl


Here we are, sitting pretty much in a place between the end of fall and the start of winter. It seems as if Old Mother Nature is having a hard time making up her mind. For a while it looked as if the lakes were going to be iced over for the duration, but then it warmed up and rained making what ice is still left very dangerous. We need to keep a close eye on our kids because stepping out on a partially frozen body of water is not safe.

Email newsletter signup

I can remember how it was as a kid when the slough first froze over. It was very tempting to walk on that crystal clear ice that was so clear that you could watch the water flowing below it. Oh, how tempting it was to take that first step listening to the ice crackle underfoot and then take another step and then another, never knowing if and when it was going to give way. The only real danger we saw was getting your overshoe full of water and your pant leg wet. The water in the slough was only a couple of feet deep at most, so the only real danger, as I saw it, was facing my mother when I returned home wearing wet and frozen pants.

Fall in November can be almost summer-like some years and then we can have winter in late October like the year we had the Halloween storm. I can recall an early November snow storm that we had in the 70s when we got 11-inches of snow that stayed for the duration of winter. I also remember one Thanksgiving Day when my former neighbor Bob Hillman had gone to church on Thanksgiving and then decided to do a little after church fishing. He had decided to drive to this bridge west of Gordonsville and do a little casting. He said he wasn’t there much longer than an hour and he had his limit of dandy walleyes ranging from 17-19 inches. I was working at the Shopper at the time and he brought a picture in to show me. I got the particulars from him and included the picture and story in my next week’s column.

I do believe it has taken some time before folks have begun to realize what a great resource we have in this area. Not only do we have some pretty good fishing, but our area lakes and streams also play host to a variety of waterfowl along with pelicans, egrets, swans and eagles. There is an abundance of wildlife to be observed in this area. The WMAs that we have in this area are great places to visit if you want to observe birds and other critters that frequent these WMAs.

I do believe the Governor’s Fishing Opener, which we hosted this year, sparked a lot of interest in fishing locally. Over the years, while attending other openers, I have occasionally been asked if there were any fish in these lakes. After the media folks who attended this year’s opener had fished our lakes, I know they came away with a whole new perspective and when they shared their experience with their listeners, viewers and readers, a lot more folks now know we do indeed have a valuable resource.

Minnesotans value their state lands and affirmed their support with the passage of the 2008 Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. The DNR manages these lands on behalf of our citizens and continually strives to improve the state’s land portfolio through strategic purchases, sales and exchanges. We do this to ensure the state’s public land base meets the recreation, conservation and economic needs into the future.

A few years ago, I was attending one of the Governor’s fishing openers and was having a conversation with a member of the DNR. The subject of WMAs came up along with how the Lessard-Sams bill has impacted the availability of public lands, we both agreed that it has really had a positive impact when it came to adding additional acres of WMA land for public use.

Public lands are much more valuable than just giving the public access to habitat. As the state’s population grows, state lands increasingly play an important environmental role. State lands in the form of forests, prairies and peatlands play important roles in providing clean water and air, carbon sequestration, habitat for pollinators and wildlife and protection of space for rare plants, animals and geologic features.

We can see the direct impact the funding from that bill has had on our Shellrock River Watershed. It has taken a lot of work to clean up our watershed, and now with the dredging we will see an even more positive impact on not only the water clarity, but the fishing, especially on Fountain Lake.

Until next time, if we get a day with a little sunshine it would be worth your while to take a little drive in the country and enjoy the beauty of our area. You might even want to try and locate some of the ten WMAs that we have in Freeborn County. You can go to the DNR website at https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/wmas/index.html to locate maps showing where they are located.

Please remember to keep our service men and women in your thoughts and prayers. Without them we would not be able to enjoy the freedoms that we enjoy today. When you show respect for our flag you are also honoring them.