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The 2011 Minnesota fishing opener is less than a week away and Mother’s day will already have been celebrated. For many years, Mother’s Day was always on the same weekend as the opener. A couple of years ago, the DNR decided to move the opener back a week, for scientific reasons I assume. I don’t think anyone in power would have been influenced to make that move by their wife – or could they? The way it stands now, there is no longer a conflict and everyone seems happy.

The later opener was implemented to give the fish more time to spawn. I guess with all the modern technology they have today someone decided to try and level the playing field. I have found that using my fish locator doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll be boating my limit every time I hit the water.

Looking back to Mother’s Day and remembering what my Mom meant to me when I was growing up, I appreciate even more of the things she taught me about enjoying the outdoors. She was the one who encouraged me to go fishing whenever I could. She taught me the basics of fishing and some of those tricks I still use today. Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of fancy fishing equipment – just hook, line and sinker so to speak. When I first started fishing, I used a cane pole and I’d use a throw line when I rode my bike to “the mink farm” for a day of fishing and hanging out.

My dad worked six and sometimes seven days a week, so he had little time to spend and he really wasn’t a fisherman by any stretch of the imagination. So Mom was my teacher. When Dad did have time off there were many Sunday afternoons when we’d go to St. Olaf or Beaver Lakes so we could enjoy a little picnic and I’d get to do a little fishing.

As I got older, I’d ride my bike to town to fish and Mom would always greet me with enthusiasm when I came home with a stringer of fish, even though she was usually the one who had to clean them. Many of those times the fish were on the stringer most of the day and were not in edible condition. She told me it was a waste, so I learned about catch-and-release at a fairly young age. I’ve told the following story many times, but I always feel that it’s worth repeating.

When I was growing up there were so many questions I’d want answered, and at times I would worry about different things and at times I wasn’t able to sleep. Mom would offer me this advice, “Pray, talk to God, and think of some fun place you would really like to be and go there; it works for me.” I have found that after all these years, it still works for me too.

Our old neighbors, Florence and Lyle Rupp, bought a resort on Leech Lake and one summer they invited us up for a week. My dad couldn’t find any way to get time away from his gas station so Mom, my sister Judy and I went. I had my driver’s license, so I did most of the driving and as a new driver I jumped at the chance. We had a ’52 Ford that ran great except for one small glitch; it would vapor lock. Whenever you’d stop it took awhile to get it started again, but luckily it always started. This is a problem that used to be pretty common in a lot of cars years ago.

A family vacation was almost unheard of for us back then, so we really enjoyed that week. My sister got to spend time with her good friend Sherry and Mom and I got to do a lot of fishing. The Rupps’ oldest daughter, Jeannette, took us northern fishing and Mom had a ball. I still have that red and white “River Runt” lure that was the killer lure that summer. The weather turned rainy and windy for a few days, but we fished off of the long dock and caught walleyes. I can remember Mom standing on the dock and the waves rolling in and splashing almost all the way up to her waist, but she just kept on fishing. Later that day she got a huge fish on and fought it for about 10 minutes before it finally started coming in and as it got close to the dock we could see that it was a big muskie. Before I could get it into the landing net, it wrapped around one of the posts on the dock and snapped the line. It was pretty quiet for a while before Mom broke the silence and said, “Now that was fun!” I guess that’s where I get the idea that it’s not always about catching fish as much as it is about enjoying the experience.

Getting back to the Mother’s Day thing, there was this time that I gave my mother a rod and reel for her birthday. I knew how much she liked that rod and reel and for some unknown reason it gave me this “brainstorm” of an idea that my wife would just love to get a rod and reel for Mother’s Day. I can still see the look on her face when the boys and I proudly presented her with that “great” Mother’s Day gift. I do believe it took about 10 years before she finally quit reminding me about the sentimental gift I gave her on that one unforgettable Mother’s Day. That was definitely what you’d call a life lesson!

Until next time; it’s time to do a little fishing so get out and enjoy the great Minnesota outdoors!

Remember our brothers and sisters who are proudly serving our country so that we can keep enjoying the freedoms that we have today.

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