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Fall always seems like a magical time of year to me with the changing of colors which signals the beginning of harvest and the end of another summer. As fall moves ever closer to winter there always seems to be a feeling of closure in the air. Fall can mean many things to many different people. To some it means that we are getting ever closer to the dreaded winter months but to others it is a time to enjoy the crisp clear days accompanied by the beautiful colors that Mother Nature choses to paint the countryside with.

There is nothing that I enjoy more than taking a drive in the country on a cool, sunny fall day. Looking back over the years I can remember the many times that I have driven south on Hwy. 69 towards Twin Lakes where my wife lived while growing up. Each time that I drove past Pickerel Lake I would enjoy the beauty of the lake which almost gave me the feeling that I was seeing a northern lake.

The kid in me still wonders what, if any, fish are swimming below the surface of almost every body of water that I pass by. There are far too many lakes and streams in this state for me to ever have a definitive answer to my often asked question. I, at times, remind myself of that small child that asks a seemingly endless amount of questions in their quest for knowledge. I now have another question that for all practical purposes has no real answer.

This summer I have driven past Pickerel Lake many times and as summer progressed I noticed more and more weeds floating on the surface and now actual weed clumps are starting to appear in the lake. I know that the lake has never been deep but I can’t ever remember seeing so many weeds or so much algae on that lake before. This leads me to wonder if “reclaiming” a lake as the DNR calls it is all that it is cracked up to be.

I know that the Watershed Board has a plan and that this lake is at the head of the trickledown effect that will supposedly make the rest of the water in that chain cleaner. The County Board has hired an engineering firm to construct a new dam on the lake at a cost of $80,000. This is all well and good but what will that do, if anything, to alleviate the obvious weed and algae problem that has taken over the lake?

The DNR stocked the lake for the second time in a few years after the freeze out that occurred 2 years ago. When the lake was first “reclaimed” from the rough fish that were abundant in the lake pencil reeds began springing up and it took on the look of what had the makings of a good pike lake. After about three years there were some nice pike being caught and eventually it was a very good lake. Unfortunately that was short-lived and because of the freeze out it had to start all over again.

As a kid my uncle Harvey would take me to this lake in the spring to fish for bullheads. I can remember the cars lined up on the shoulder of the highway as folks fished from shore taking home limits of those whiskered fish.

This summer my grandson Trevor put his boat in and tried fishing the lake but said that because there are so many weeds that a person cannot even find an area open enough to cast a lure. This lake has had a history of freezing out for as long as I can remember but it always seemed to bounce back on its own with bullhead, perch crappie and sunfish without a stocking plan. With the opening of the waterfowl season on the 26th Pickerel looks to once again be a quality waterfowl lake and I really do hope that in time this lake will once again return to being a fishable body of water instead of the weed infested lake that it is today.

Mystery Cave announces fall tour schedule

Autumn is a beautiful time of year to make the scenic drive to Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park in the southeastern corner of Minnesota. Fall color typically peaks in early to mid-October, and cave tours will continue through Nov. 1.

“Stalactites, stalagmites, and flowstones await those who traverse the passageways at Mystery Cave,” said interpretive naturalist Bob Storlie. “On a guided tour, you will learn how water has transformed the limestone, see underground pools and view fossils that are over 450 million years old.”

The popular one-hour Scenic Cave Tour will take place during the following times this fall:

Weekdays — Wednesday through Friday, Sept. 9 to Oct. 2, tours daily at 1:30 p.m.

Weekends (and during the Education Minnesota break Oct. 15-18) — Saturday and Sunday, September through Nov. 1, tours on the hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Tours are $12 per person age 13 and over, $7 for children ages 5-12, free for children age 4 and under. Discounted rates are available for school groups (10 or more) who contact the park at least one week in advance. A state park vehicle permit ($5/one-day or $25/year-round) is also required.

For more information, visit or call 507-937-3251. To make tour reservations, visit reservations  at or call 866-857-2757.

Until next time, it’s a great time to enjoy the changing colors, mild temperatures of the day and those cool evenings.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers because they are the reason we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.

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