Although the calendar says we have just now started summer, it seems that we have already been experiencing summer for some time. June 21st is officially the first day of summer. My question is: where has the time gone? I guess I have always felt that if the weather turns nice and pretty much stays that way, it is summer. I have to sympathize with my brother-in-law Lynn Johnson in Nome, Alaska. The last time I spoke with him, which was only a few days ago, the high temperature was in the low 40s and he was putting another log on the fire.
When I think of summer I like to think back and remember the days of summer I spent fishing Fountain Lake. I would get up fairly early and grab my fishing pole along with the can of worms I had dug up the day before. I would then hop on my bike and ride to town to do a little fishing. I had a little treat money on me for later on that I had earned by mowing lawns and from my paper route. I would usually treat myself to a chocolate marshmallow sundae at the Northside Creamery or a cherry Coke at Northpark.
I would start the day at the dam on the Northside which offered plenty of fishing opportunities for this kid. It was fun climbing on the walls of the old waterway that ran along the north side of the dam. Fishing was always fun under the bridge because you never could tell what you would catch. Bullheads and rubber tails were the most common, but once in a great while you’d catch a crappie or a pumpkinseed. Whenever I’d catch a crappie, to me, it was like catching a gamefish like a northern or walleye because there didn’t seem to be an abundance of them.
After I’d had my fill of fishing by the dam I would move on to Katherine Island by fishing the whole shoreline before ending up at the island. The old metal bridge was noisy to walk on but a person could catch enough bullheads and rubber tails to make it fun.
My dad told me of this old gentleman who had a secret crappie hole somewhere behind the old Albert Lea greenhouse, which sat along the shore east of the beach. After hearing those stories I witnessed firsthand the fruits of this old fisherman’s labors. My dad had a service station on East Main and this old gentleman, whose name was John, drove in to put in gas. My dad asked how fishing was and he was happy to show me the bucket that held a mess of the biggest crappies I had ever laid eyes on. As I grew older I could still envision that bucket of slab crappies and, although I did on a couple of occasions try, I never was able to find that “honey hole” that only old John seemed to know about.
I have from time to time had people ask if I knew when the dredging on Fountain Lake was going to start. From what I’ve gathered by articles in the paper I don’t think that anyone has a definitive answer to that question. Some of these folks have gone on to say that once the lake is dredged, Fountain Lake will become a good fishing lake. I don’t know what constitutes a good fishing lake, but I feel that if you have a lake where you can catch nice panfish, bass, northern and walleye, then fishing is already pretty darned good.
As a kid I fished pretty much every inch of that lake at one time or another and over the years I caught crappies, sunnies, northern and bass. In the ‘80s I started to catch a few walleye in Edgewater Bay and today it is no longer unique to catch a nice walleye or two on any given day. I do feel Fountain Lake is a pretty darned good fishing lake already and there is no doubt the steps being taken to clean up our waterways is working. I also feel that making the lake deeper will increase the numbers of gamefish while cleaning up the lake.
Although I am no marine biologist and do not pretend to be any kind of expert, I have never been a fan of using chemicals on my yard because of the runoff. Over the years I have fished many of the lakes in our area and have seen the effects that runoff from manicured lawns has on a lake. When I fish a lake that seems to have no real vegetation and you reel in a jig or lure with green slime on it, I attribute it to chemicals and too many rough fish.
I do that we are headed in the right direction when it comes to cleaning up our area’s waterways, but there is no quick fix. In the meantime we can take advantage of what we already have. We have many nice parks located on our areas lakes and I can’t think of a better way to enjoy a little family time than a picnic and some fishing.
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A few observations: we are now going to take Broadway down to three lanes and add bike lanes on both sides. Before that happens someone needs to enlighten some of our area drivers of how the lanes work, especially at Broadway and Front. I have noticed quite a few folks who think the bike lane is for folks in cars that are going straight across Broadway. Luckily there is not a lot of bike traffic so the only danger would seemingly be a fender bender. Summer is in full swing and we who drive motorized vehicles are reminded we must watch out for bicyclists because they have the same rules as vehicles. This should also pertain to bicyclists when it comes to intersection etiquette and riding on the right side of the road. Speaking of roads; I know some of the sidewalks in our city are not the best, but I do wonder why some folks insist on walking down the middle of the street.
That’s enough whining for one day, so until next time, pack the picnic basket, grab the fishing poles and head to your favorite park to enjoy some family time.
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.