Friday’s Weekend Column
Avid Fishermen

by James Glaser
May 13, 2005

Minnesota has way more than its fair share of avid fishermen. Tonight at midnight there will be thousands of boats launching for the opening of the 2005 Minnesota fishing season. I am not kidding you, our lake will have several nut cases out there in the middle of the night and the temperature will be down in the 30s. With over 11,000 lakes in the State, it doesn't take that many on each to get the numbers very high.

I expect that Saturday morning there will be many boats out in front of my place, as this north shore always produces nice walleyes early in the season. Because I never go out on opener, I always thought the local people were too smart to join the hoards, but every year, I see lots of local people I know in their parkas, freezing, and pretending that they are having fun.

When I speak of hoards, I mean it. There will be hundreds of thousands of fishermen out on the lakes by day light Saturday morning. Bait and tackle shops are making big money right now and the resorts are starting to fill up.

The place that makes the most money is the State of Minnesota in license fees. Now that I am over fifty, I can buy myself a lifetime license for just five hundred and thirteen dollars. For a single year, it is seventeen bucks. The US Fish and Wildlife Service says that about 2 million people fish in Minnesota each year.

When you buy your license, the State Department of Natural Resources gives you a 96 page book with all the rules and regulations that you have to follow. Every year you hear about people getting greedy and getting caught. It can cost them their boat, car, and a big fine. I can't imagine someone calling home and telling his wife, "honey I have some bad news. I lost the truck and boat and you have to come up here and bail me out." Like I said, people get caught every year and they have to do just that.

Here is something interesting from the license book. They have a sunrise/sunset table and the earliest sunrise is 5:26 am in late June and the latest sunset is 9:04 PM also in late June.

There is a section on "invasive species" that come here through the ocean going ships on the Great Lakes dumping their bilge water. The one that caught my eye was earthworms. They are not native to Minnesota and come from Europe. They destroy out forests by eating the leaf litter and change the soil, "resulting in the elimination of seedlings, ferns, wildflowers, and ground dwelling animals."

So, this cold, wet, weekend (predicted high 59 degrees) thousands of people will be out on our lakes having fun. Thousands of those people having fun will have wives out shopping here in the north woods, which really helps the economy and at night when the cabin is cold and the sheets feel damp, many couples will decide to head out to a supper club to eat and that will pump more money into the economy up here.

Now that fishing has started, we will see the auctions start too. Sometimes it makes you mad that you are bidding against city people, but it really helps the people selling to get a good price for their things. On the 21st, I am going to a good one. It is a local estate auction and there are many antiques on the bill and I am looking to bid on some kerosene lamps and a wood trunk. I don't need them, but you don't go to these auctions to buy things you need.

Sometime in June, when it is warm and pleasant, I will have my own fishing opener. I like to fish in shirt sleeves, have it so warm that a gentle breeze feels good, and if I like, I can take a dip in the lake to cool off.

I wish I could say that summer is almost here, but we are now in a real cold snap and this morning the puddle in the driveway was iced over and when I went down the road, Shallow Pond had ice on the edges. I have to keep all the windows in the greenhouse closed up. All the flowers that popped up last week on those warm days have gone dormant again. The buds on the trees have formed little leaves and they are staying little. Worse that that, the furnace is kicking on again.

One nice thing about this cold is that I can pretend that everything is right on schedule. I can till the garden this weekend, just like I knew it was going to get cold. I should have had everything in by now and many people do, but with this cold, the seeds are just sitting there and anything that did come up is not growing now.

I still have plenty of time. I want to get the beets, potatoes, peas, and beans in real soon and I could plant some more greens for salad. Now that I am living alone this planting seems like a waste, but I like doing it and the stuff from the garden really does taste better. So, I guess I will put one more year in the dirt and cut back next year.

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