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.
Yesterday was the Minnesota fishing opener – a tradition celebrated across the state. It’s the official opening of fishing for walleye and northern pike. The past few years we’ve joined in this celebration, and we had a grand time again this year. Here are my top five points about the fishing opener: (1) May is not summer yet in Minnesota; long underwear was required this year. (2) Prepare for lines at the boat landing; don’t fret, relax, and enjoy your fellow fishermen and women (everyone has stories to tell). (3) That new foraging minnow you bought the week before was a winner; the northern pike loved it! (4) Northern pike are fighters; you’ll know when they strike your line and that’s part of the fun of catching them. (5) A weekend of cabin-life, fishing, loons and eagles, and a campfire are a great cure for stress and the city life. (Plus, it was a good sign when we won the meat raffle at the bar where we had dinner on our drive up Friday night — we knew the weekend was going to be grand!)
Due to my recent broken arm and tendon surgery I was not ready to participate in the traditional fishing opener here in Minnesota. I was close but not completely operational a few weeks ago. But thanks to my physical therapy (and a late spring) it was time to test my hand and my fishing skills. We headed north yesterday to a beautiful lake in Cass County, Big Rice Lake. The weather was iffy – possible showers, possible storms, possible sun (in other words, nobody could really predict what it would be). We loaded up the canoe with layers of jackets and rain coats, sunscreen, rods, reels, and good humor. What we were greeted with could not have been expected — a wonderfully calm day with hardly a ripple across the surface of the lake. We were enveloped by a beautiful sky which seemed even more immense as it was reflected in the still lake surface. The clouds danced on the water as we drifted along. A few hours later we’d seen red-winged blackbirds protecting their nests, heard the call of loons from various corners of the lake, gotten a little bit sunburned, and caught our limit of northerns. And after we’d packed up our gear and fish, loaded the canoe back onto the car, and left the boat landing the rain began to come down.
We headed north this weekend for a little fishing trip — one that was full of delights and surprises. We were tent camping and were fortunate to find a beautiful campsite on the shore of a northern lake. As we drifted to sleep last night we were serenaded by a chorus of frogs and loons. And yet in the middle of the night a storm moved through, bringing lightning and thunder, wind, and rain. I lay wide awake in the tent, imagining a worst-case scenario and worrying about what we would do. Luckily the worst of the dark & stormy night was off in the distance and what I was imagining didn’t develop. When we awoke this morning we were greeted with summer temperatures, a calm lake, and clearing skies. Today was beautiful for fishing. With blue skies, white clouds, clear water, and the serenade of red-winged blackbirds and loons, we were successful in catching a “slug” of northern pike. After having lived here in Minnesota for almost four years I’m appreciating even more the specialness and richness of our 10,000 plus lakes.