This past weekend I headed north to the cabin with my grandson Dylan to do some late fall fishing. He had visions of “the great toothed one” (musky) slamming his new lure dancing in his head and I had hoped to put him on one of the big fish. Unfortunately the lake we chose to fish for that fish was more like the Dead Sea than a good musky lake. I guess I’m getting ahead of myself so let’s go back to the beginning.
Dylan and I headed north over the MEA break from school, leaving home at about 3:30 a.m. Once we arrived at the cabin the temperature was about 45 degrees so we lit a fire to toasty up the cabin. It was supposed to do the rain/snow mix the next day so we wanted plenty of dry firewood for the next couple of days.
That afternoon we took my small boat and headed to a nearby lake that I knew held some nice northern. The lake didn’t disappoint us because it wasn’t long before Dylan was reeling in a dandy pike. After we had boated the fish he said “now this is what I’ve been looking for” and I could tell by his ear-to-ear smile that this trip was already a success. After taking numerous pictures I worked the fish alongside the boat until he splashed my face with water and disappeared into the depths to fight another time. We caught 4 other fish in the short time we were on that little lake before we’d had enough of the cold and headed for the cabin.
That evening as we enjoyed the warmth of the woodstove Dylan had to remind me that the fish that I had caught that day were quite a bit smaller than the ones he’d caught and that was just fine with me. The temperatures dipped into the mid-20’s as the night wore on and there just seemed to be something magical about it as the full moon treated us to a battery free yard light. The moonlight shining through the windows of the cabin as we slept gave me the feeling that all was right with the world at that particular moment. The next morning was a reality check for me; the wood stove was reduced to embers as we slept and when I went to make breakfast I found that the eggs had frozen. Improvising is the key to making things work when things go bad. I found two whole eggs that hadn’t cracked and put them in a pan of water and heated them up so as not to over-boil them. My plan had been to make my self-proclaimed awesome French toast for breakfast. I eventually made breakfast and then it was off to hunt muskies. We had to wait for an hour or so for it to stop raining and then we were off – sort of. First we couldn’t get the boat on the hitch because I couldn’t get my trailer jack to work. We eventually tested our back strength and got the boat hooked up.
We were finally on the way to North Star Lake which is a pretty good musky lake just south of Marcell. After we launched the boat I went to pump the gas primer and gas shot out everywhere through this large crack in the hose. I knew I had to get the clamp off and reassert the hose on the fitting. This little task seemed almost impossible because after I had sawed through that thick hard and brittle gas line I couldn’t get the clamp loose. After about fifteen minutes that seemed like more than an hour I had it off and finally got the new line on.
All systems were go – full speed ahead Muskies here we come!
Well they must have seen us coming and were hiding in the shadows belly laughing because after spending 4 hours beating the water without as much as a follow all we had to show for that trip were some very cold fingers. At one time it had gotten pretty dark and started to sprinkle and the sprinkles soon turned to corn snow and it really came down for a short time. Even though we caught no fish that day and a lot of things didn’t go too smoothly I don’t think I would have traded it for a warm sunny day.
There is something about fall fishing that just feels good at times even when you experience a few hiccups. On our last day there we decided to fish a lake that I had always thought I’d like to fish but up until a year ago it had no public access. This particular day was the coldest one so far and the temperatures never rose above the high 30’s.
We both managed to catch fish on that cold fall day and when we left that lake we knew that we would be coming back to try our luck again another time.
When we first decided to take this trip I had told Dylan that fall fishing can be feast or famine and if you can find the fish then it can be pretty good but if you can’t then it could make for a long cold day on the water. Even that, to me is considered a good fishing day; especially when I get to spend time fishing with my grandson.
Over the years I have acquired a lot of fond memories on fall fishing trips and when the memories are of good friends & family they are priceless.
Until next time, with pheasant and duck hunting now open be sure to “hunt safe” and enjoy the time spent in our great Minnesota outdoors.
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.