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I can’t believe that we are already over half way through July and it seems like summer has just begun. I have to admit that the above average temperatures coupled with the high humidity almost make me glad that summer is on the downside skid. I have said many times that fall is my favorite time of year but really, heat or no heat, we need to savor every glorious day.

Looking back a few years when the kids were small and we had made plans to go camping with our then neighbors, Rick and Donna. It was around the 4th of July and we had made reservations at a campground on Lake Francis. We had a tent at the time, which was a cabin-style with basically no windows. It was red with a white roof and when the temperatures got into the high 80s-90s, that puppy got toasty.

That weekend the temperatures got well into the 80s and barely much lower than that at night. It was pretty brutal because the spot that we were camping had no trees and not a sliver of shade. We were hard pressed to find any relief from the heat and sun but we somehow managed to survive. I had brought my boat along, of course, to do a little fishing. In those days I had a small 14-ft. car topper boat whose brand name was Sea Nymph. That little boat was light weight and easy to load and unload. My old 1959 10-hp Evinrude Sport Twin would push that boat through the water with ease. On the way to the campground I stopped in Waseca and bought some minnows. If you haven’t figured it out by now, my camping trips always involved fishing and I was more than ready to hit the lake early in the morning.

I had tied the minnows to the dock the evening before to keep them lively and ready for action. Unfortunately for us, the heat of the day and the water temperatures took a toll on the minnows and when we were ready to hit the lake the next morning, the minnows were asleep in the bucket. With no live bait to use I had to think fast and that’s when I decided to try a fairly new lure that hadn’t been on the market that long. I had bought a Countdown Rapala the year before but hadn’t actually used it that much so I figured that it was the closest thing to a minnow I had.

We trolled the lake most of the morning and I couldn’t believe how good that black & silver countdown worked. That morning I caught walleyes, bass, northern and even a few crappies on that lure, which fast became my favorite. I had another lure which I let Rick use, but it was a floating Rapala which didn’t seem to appeal to the fish the same way the way my new favorite lure did.

Yes, that was quite a memorable weekend with the heat and all, but something good did come out of it; I now had a lure that I knew would work. Having confidence in your lure is a big part of catching fish and I couldn’t begin to count the number of times I have been using one of my new favorite lures without much success and then gone back to the old standby and had it produce. When the Shad Rap first came out I was at the front of the line when it came to giving a testimonial about its worth. Although I have caught many fish on Shad Raps and it is probably my favorite lure to use on a regular basis I will, on occasion, still look in the dark shadows of my tackle box for that little black and silver countdown and tie it on with confidence because I know it has already proven its worth many times over.

I have not fished Frances in quite some time. I would like to try it again this year, but definitely not until this fall. One of the last times that I fished Frances was on one of the fishing openers. My oldest son Brian was with me on that occasion and about the only thing that really stands out in my memory is that it was very cold and the access was like a circus. We had originally planned on fishing our usual opening day haunt, Reeds Lake, but when we got to the access the trailers were lined up down both sides of the road; which was just way too many boats for that little lake so we decided to try Frances. When we were finally able to launch the SS Minnow, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped, making for an uncomfortable day of fishing. Brian was usually a trooper when it came to fishing, but the cold eventually got the best of him and I knew it was time to head home. I believe that on that trip Brian caught a crappie or two and I caught a northern and a cold. After this less-than-pleasant experience, I resolved that from now on we would be fishing Fountain Lake on the opener. The next couple of years proved fruitful and the boys and I caught our share of pike and walleye on the opener without ever leaving town; now this was more like it.

Until next time, enjoy the summer, stay cool and take advantage of the weather but most of all just get out and spend a little time in the great Minnesota outdoors.

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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