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As we venture further into the hard water fishing season there are many things to consider. One of them is not only treating fellow fishermen with respect, but the environment. There have been many springs when I have taken a walk past the channel near Frank Hall Park and seen the trash that has been left on the ice by irresponsible fishermen.

Most of us who fish respect the environment and pick up after ourselves so that we leave the area as clean as and sometimes even cleaner than we found it. On the other hand, there are those few who seem to show up at almost any outdoor activity with little or no regard for the environment. There are also those who are looking for a shortcut or seem determined to save themselves time by driving on thin ice instead of walking, or not checking before heading out on the ice. These are usually the folks you read about who have had to have their vehicles extracted from a lake or river. We have all witnessed “that guy” at one time or another whether it is on open water, hard water or at an access. It’s the guy that is always in a hurry and whose time is so valuable that he can’t wait. These are the folks that sometimes end up on America’s Funniest. I have known a few folks like this and usually their mistakes are due to being oblivious to the surroundings or, even in some cases, a little too much cheer before going onto the lake.

One instance that comes to mind is the time that a friend of mine, who we will call Larry, had gone out fishing in the evening after consuming a couple of beverages. As evening set in he decided to call it a night and was in the process of driving his boat onto the lift when I noticed that his motor was revving at high RPMs. I turned to see what he was doing just as the trolling motor which he had left down finally broke off, sending him lunging forward onto the lift. His friend who was in the front of the boat held up the motor that had broken into two pieces with the wiring on the inside still holding it all together. This was quite a site and I have to say that by that time my sides were hurting from laughing, at Larry’s expense of course, I don’t think that he ever quite saw the humor in it. There is a moral to this particular story and that of course is the drinking and fishing do not mix thing. If you feel the need to have a strong beverage, it’s best saved for sitting by the evening campfire or back at the cabin.

Whenever I take a drive in the country and pass by a natural stream that has not been altered by man I get a good feeling inside. To me the beauty of a natural stream, especially in winter, is always a thing of wonder. A stream that is flowing the way nature intended takes on a personality all its own and has a sort of freedom that still makes me excited when wondering what could be lurking just out of sight around the next bend. I have been that way since I was a young boy and nothing about that has changed, except for the young boy part.

Yes, nature still has a lot of great adventures for us to see and experience that you just won’t find by watching TV or surfing the Internet. Just the act of walking on a trail, visiting a park or relaxing by the shore of a lake can be very rewarding in itself, especially if you take pause to reflect on what is around you and enjoy what nature has to offer. I usually try to do a lot of walking outdoors in the non-winter months and I have often been guilty of being in a hurry and not taking time to savor the moment.

Speaking of savoring; my grandson Trevor has been having some pretty good luck fishing through the ice on Fountain Lake this winter. He has caught some dandy crappie and some sunnies with an occasional pike thrown in. I have heard from other folks that there are also some dandy walleye being caught in the low light hours. Yes, we have to consider ourselves lucky to have such a fine fishery for us to enjoy right here in our own back yard.

I have mentioned to Trevor that Grandpa sure likes crappies and a few fillets would fit nicely in my frying pan but so far he hasn’t taken the hint (bait).

Until next time, stay warm and enjoy the beauty of winter and always respect the environment.

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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