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I am getting a little tired of the weather being the main topic of conversation in my recent columns. The hard winter we have been experiencing has really taken its toll on our area resources – mainly the fish population. Although the DNR says it is healthy to have an occasional fish kill, it’s hard to accept the fact a lake such as Pickerel, which was just coming into its own as a fishery, has suffered a setback. With that lake’s history of freezing out in past years, I guess a freeze out was inevitable.

As an outdoors enthusiast I have always considered myself a fisherman first, but one who appreciates the total outdoors package. Whenever I drive past any body of water, whether it is a lake or a small stream, I always have to wonder what type of fish, if any, lurk below the surface. I have been that way for as far back as I can remember, and I’d guess it’s what keeps my enthusiasm for the sport alive. It is that “little kid” curiosity in me that fuels my imagination and makes me want to explore new waters whenever the opportunity arises. This is, no doubt, the reason it saddens me to know some of our area lakes, which we take pretty much for granted, have succumbed to the hard winter and suffered a fish kill. I personally believe that no lake will totally kill off, but I’m no marine biologist, just a fisherman with that little kid mentality when it comes to our resources. It is just hard to think of starting over on a lake. The DNR is already planning on re-stocking Albert Lea Lake this spring.

There are still lakes in the area that, to my knowledge, have not suffered winter kills. Two of those lakes, St. Olaf and Beaver, are not that far away and can be just the ticket for a summer family outing. Both lakes have fishing piers and nice picnic areas along with swimming beaches. Each of these lakes offer a variety of fish; what a great way to spend an afternoon enjoying the outdoors with family.

When I was a kid these are the two lakes that gave me great memories which I still cherish today. It’s funny how much fun you can have just by taking a short drive to enjoy a little fishing and a picnic. Who says picnic anymore, and does anyone still own a picnic basket? I believe we still have one in the attic, complete with those colorful plastic plates with separate compartments, hard plastic cups with handles and a thermos bottle to keep the Kool-Aid cool. When I was a kid, a picnic was cold meat sandwiches, my mother’s famous potato salad and Van Camps pork and beans. To me, it just couldn’t possibly get any better than that.

It is amazing how taking a little break from our busy lives and driving just a short ways to enjoy an afternoon relaxing with family can make memories that last a lifetime. Of course I am talking about me and the times I enjoyed, but then I didn’t have Facebook, Twitter or other social media to worry about; just a fishing pole, a can of worms and an appetite for a good old picnic lunch.

Until next time, stay warm and get out when you can and enjoy a little Minnesota winter fun.

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

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