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As the fishing opener draws closer I can actually feel myself getting amped up about wetting a line. With the weather we have been having it has been pretty hard to get too excited about fishing and I don’t believe that I am the only one thinking like that. The good news is that this year the ice should be off of the lakes by the opener.

Once again I will be attending the Governor’s Opener and fishing on Gull Lake which is another lake that I have had the chance to fish before. The nice thing about having the opportunity to attend the annual governor’s opener each year is that it has allowed me to fish many different lakes that I may not have otherwise fished.

I am planning on heading up to my cabin for a few days right after participating in the Governor’s fishing opener. This year, as in the past couple of years, I will be making my first visit of the season to our cabin after attending the opener.  This is an anxious time because there is always the question of what will be awaiting me. Some years I have been greeted by numerous downed trees and there is always the question of how the cabin weathered another harsh winter. Once I have taken care of any problems that my have arose and have put things away I will officially be ready to enjoy the upcoming season.

When we first had the cabin somewhat livable my two oldest grandsons, Trevor and Taylor would accompany me for a weekend in April just to check things out. This was before we had the wood stove so the only heat was a kerosene heater that wasn’t perfect but served the purpose. On those first couple of April trips we had no insulation in the floor, walls or ceiling so needless to say it was not going to receive a 5-star energy efficient rating. We actually had what I thought was going to be a traditional April trip going but alas it took the boys only a couple of years to decide that April was too early and too cold to be spending a short weekend at the cabin. I maybe don’t have that annual trip to look forward to anymore but I will always have pictures and some good memories to enjoy.

I am planning on purchasing a new ultra-light rod & reel for the upcoming season. Although my old one is still useable it is pretty much worn out and needs (?) to be replaced. It seems kind of funny to be saying that when I look back on my days as a kid when getting a new cane pole would have made me happy. I would have thought that it was my birthday or something if I would have gotten this old rod & reel back then.

When I look back on those days of my youth I always knew exactly when the opener was and somehow felt that all things were right with the world once the season opened. Now I can tell you that living north of town with only the “crick” and the slough to fish in afforded little or no access to the game fish that I held in high esteem. I would always hold on to that glimmer of hope that my Uncle Ben & Aunt Marcie would once again come through and ask me along on an up north vacation.

I can remember reading a story in a fishing magazine that had a story about fishing in up-state New York. It had a picture showing folks standing elbow to elbow while fishing steelhead in a river in New York State. I guess that this was the first time that I had thought of New York as someplace other than a big city.

I actually found this intriguing and this was also when I first learned from another article in the same magazine that there was a species of pike called the chain pickerel. Although chain pickerel are found in waters as far west as Texas, the species is mainly a resident of the East Coast, with thriving populations in numerous lakes, ponds, reservoirs, and rivers of the Mid-Atlantic and New England states from Maine to Virginia. Chain pickerel (Esox niger) aren’t generally held in as high regard as their bigger cousins, the pike and muskie.

One reason for the lack of acclaim may be the average size of pickerel. Most weigh less than two pounds. The all-tackle record, for example, is a 9-pound 6-ounce Georgia whopper caught in 1961. I found this interesting as a youth and it still interests me today. It has been many years since I have even thought about pickerel but I can recall the time when my mother’s cousin Elaine and her family visited from Canada and her son John told me about fishing pickerel. John was a little older than me and I was fascinated by the fact that he had fished for a species that I had only known existed for a short time. I suppose that you could say that the chain pickerel is to the pike family what the sauger is to the walleye.

Until next time, the opener is upon us so it’s time to enjoy some fishing on one of our great Minnesota lakes. No matter where you plan to fish be safe and if you’re in a boat be sure to wear your life jacket.

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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