It was early morning when I launched my kayak into the lake. The smell of fireworks from the previous night’s celebrations hung heavy in the air. There was no wind, no movement; the fog had developed overnight and was now suspended low over the lake.
This is my favorite time of day – the after dawn quiet when the world slowly awakens, before the rush and hurry of another 24 hours. I paddled as quietly as I could, rustling up some ducks that were gliding through the lily pads. Someone had recently been sitting on this dock, throwing their fishing line into the lake, and hoping for a bite. The rod was left leaning against the bench but at the ready for the return of the angler. Perhaps that person was waiting for the fog to lift.
The Minnesota fishing opener was this past Saturday, and unlike some previous years the weather was lovely. We headed north to our favorite fishing lake and found an abundance of blue – the sky, and its reflection in the water surrounded us with this beautiful color of spring. Uncharacteristically calm and warm, the boat created the only ripples in the water. It was wonderful to soak in the warmth and the beauty of the day, while we caught our limit of large Northern pike. Saturday became even more perfect as we also headed out on the lake Sunday morning, but this was a much different day. The sky was filled with high clouds, and there was a serious wind from the east. There was no still and calm, no quiet reflection in the water, but rather a heavy chop and even some whitecaps. Sunday merely helped us appreciate even more that blue sky, blue lake day from 24 hours earlier.
Climate change, global warming, el nino – for whatever reason, today had the promise of sunshine and temperatures in the 50’s – almost unheard of for mid-November in Minnesota. Last year at this time we had a layer of snow and highs near 30 degrees. So when a day comes like today, it warrants savoring. We drove north to Mille Lacs Lake and set out for some end of the season fishing. On the south side of the lake we were protected from the wind that was blowing across the cooling lake. Although we came up short for our fishing luck, we considered ourselves enormously fortunate for being able to enjoy a beautiful day on a big lake. As we were pulling off the lake, the sun was starting to set and painting the sky with beautiful shades of blue and pink. The bare trees, the blue water, and the rocks along the shore all seemed to be celebrating this unusual day for mid-November in Minnesota.
As the temperature soared into the 90’s in the Twin Cities last Friday, we did what many Minnesotans do and headed “up north” for the weekend. A small cabin at Whitewood Resort overlooking Spirit Lake was the perfect relief. We spent the time keeping cool either by swimming in the lake or fishing. The first night we were treated to a beautiful glowing sunset with the reflection slicing through the wild rice that is in this lake. As I lay in bed that night I was lulled to sleep by the loons calling back and forth. We caught our share of sunfish and crappies the next day, watched an eagle swoop down and get his fish from the lake, and our second night was highlighted by a view of the Northern Lights as we sat on the dock with our feet in the lake. A few hours later, a storm rolled through with lightning and thunder and dropped the temperatures considerably. This morning we wandered amongst the many lakes in Aitkin County then shared lunch with good friends we haven’t seen in a long time. As we headed back to the cities we found ourselves refreshed and relaxed and thankful for a quick escape up north.
Yesterday started with a gray cloud cover and comfortable temps. As the day wore on, the sun broke through and the heat started to build. Planning to take advantage of near-perfect fishing weather, we drove north about 50 miles to East Rush Lake. We enjoyed a dinner in the boat between pulling in sunfish and crappies, and I was looking forward to the sunset. Slowly, to the west, we could see storm clouds moving in, leaving a clear demarcation in the sky — blue sky white clouds and sunshine being taken over by dark gray and purple with white clouds developing within. Our timing was perfect; we made our way across the lake to the boat landing, trailered the boat, and then watched the far shore as the lightning and rain moved across the lake.