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Have you ever taken a walk in the woods on a crisp fall day and taken in that certain smell that only fall seems to provide? It is hard to describe, but growing up in the country offered me close access to many of those wonderful smells. It won’t be long before we will hear the sound of leaves crunching underfoot as we walk through our yards.

I love spending time in the north woods in late fall with the rustling crunch of leaves beneath my feet. To me there is a certain closure that comes with fall, but not being a deer hunter may have something to do with that. I have always liked small game hunting and fall, of course, is the time to do that. I have mentioned many times how important it is to get our youth involved in the outdoors experience. There are many ways to introduce our youth to the outdoors and small game hunting is one way to do that.

Fishing is another activity that can introduce kids to the outdoors experience, and it is relatively inexpensive to boot. I will be spending a few days up north with my oldest son Brian and we will do a little fishing and maybe some grouse hunting if time allows. This has been an annual fall ritual for us for quite a few years and last year was the first time that we missed in some time.

Fishing in the fall can always be hit and miss, but if you hit the right time and right place it can be pretty awesome. Last year, for example, my grandson Dylan and I spent MEA weekend at the cabin and we had some good northern fishing on a little area lake not far from our cabin. Now that I think about it, Dylan has actually done quite well in the northern fishing department this year as well.

Over the years Brian and I have fished in some pretty bad weather with mixed results. As I’ve said many times, it’s not always about the catching, but the whole outdoors experience. There were times when we fished in snow squalls, which are common in late fall in Northern Minnesota. There have been a few times when I’ve been on a lake when a front came through; it can happen without hardly any warning at all. There were a couple times when we headed for shore and sought shelter while the storm ran its course. These squalls never seemed to last more than a few minutes and then it would clear and we would continue fishing. It was not uncommon for two or three of these squalls to occur in a single afternoon. Over the years I have learned to accept the fact that this is just a part of fall fishing.

The first time my family was introduced to Spider Lake was in the late ‘70s; it was towards the end of September and for most of that week it was overcast and rainy, but we still fished hard. Brian was pretty young when we fished Spider Lake for the first time. One of the high points of the week for me was catching my first muskie. I can remember that time like it was yesterday because Brian and my mother were both in the boat with me and Mom netted the fish for me. When we got it in the boat, the battle was really on because muskies tend to get a little crabby when you take them out of water and drop them in a boat. As the fish jumped around on the bottom of our little boat it must have scared the heck out of Brian because his little eyes were as big as silver dollars.

My mother loved to fish and she and my wife Jean would take turns going out in the boat while the other would watch my youngest son Brad, who wasn’t very old at the time. Although the fishing wasn’t all that great, my mother did catch some fish that week and that made us all happy. I know everyone enjoyed that week and when I look back on it and all those memories, it gives me a warm feeling inside.

Memories make the trip for me, whether it’s time spent sitting around a campfire with snow on the ground or time spent fishing (catching is nice too), it’s all good. Brian and I still talk about a fall trip to Spider when the highlight of each day was returning to a warm cabin after a couple of hours on the lake.

As I anticipate spending the next few days up north I have visions of that lunker lying in wait for me to drag my lure past it. If that fish fails to see my lure then I’ll just have to throw another log on the fire and savor the moment.

Until next time, get out and enjoy the fall colors. The leaves in our part of the state are 25-50% of peak so now is a great time to take a drive down a country road or take a drive or walk around one of our area lakes and enjoy the view. If you do take that drive in the country, remember that it’s harvest time and some farmers may be on the road driving from field to field.

Please take a little time to remember those who served, those who are serving now and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today. 

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