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As the weather warms, so do my feelings about getting in some open water fishing. I have seen a few folks trying their luck on the Front Street bridge and in the channel by the Bridge Street dam. Although the walleye, northern and bass seasons are closed the season is ongoing for perch, crappie and sunfish. It seems that although we had upper 60-degree weather on Tuesday of this past week, the ice is not quite ready to go away. If you are like me, you are anticipating the day when you can cast a line with the hope of catching some tasty perch or panfish.

When I close my eyes I can drift off and put myself on any one of the many lakes that surround the area in Northern Minnesota where our cabin sits. I know I may be getting the cart in front of the horse or, in this instance, prematurely firing up the old Evinrude. If you can’t wait for open water fishing, a trip east to the “Mighty Mississippi” may be in order.

It has been many years since me and some coworkers from Wilson’s would head to the river for a day of fishing. It only seems like yesterday we were taking an early-morning trip to that river where I have to say, we usually caught fish. I also went there with my old neighbor, Gene, on one occasion and if I recall correctly it was usually a good experience no matter who I fished with.

My first trip to the river was as a youth when my Uncle Ben asked me to go along to Wabasha. Once there, we were to meet Harry, one of his good friends from Cedar Rapids. We stayed at a resort on the river and our plan was to catch some of the “slab” crappies that were biting at that time. I can remember catching crappies as fast as I could pull them into the boat. Uncle Ben reminded me many times about that time when I was so excited that I’d pull a crappie out of the water on one side of the boat and fling it back into the water on the other side in one fluid motion. We came home with our limit of nice crappie, and that was one childhood memory I cherish to this day.

Not only did I catch a lot of fish on that trip with Uncle Ben, but I caught an alligator gar, a fish I had read about before the trip. As soon as I found out I was going to the river I read up about what type of fish we could find in that area of the mighty river. To me, catching a gar was a dream come true because I knew none of my friends had ever experienced catching one. In those days I would invest a lot of the money that I’d get for doing chores or lawn mowing in hunting and fishing magazines. These books would fuel my daydreams where I’d go to fish bonefish or tarpon in Florida or muskies in Canada, so catching a gar was considered a dream fulfilled to me.

I guess it didn’t take much to satisfy me when it came to hunting and fishing, but catching that gar made that trip extra special. I was a kid who fished bullheads and sunfish at the old mink farm, which is what folks used to call Coney Island in those days. Give me some fish line, an old thermos bottle cork, a few weights and hooks, and I was good to go. In the same token, my hunting experiences at that age evolved around my trusty old Red Ryder BB gun and traipsing through the slough looking for an adventure that could only be found in my imagination.

2015 fish, game and trapping licenses expired Feb. 29

Minnesota fishing, hunting and trapping licenses for 2015 expired Monday, Feb. 29.

Licenses for 2016 now are available wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold, online at and by telephone at 888-665-4236. All 2016 fishing licenses became effective Tuesday, March 1.

New licenses are required for 2015 hunting and fishing seasons that continued past Monday, Feb. 29.

Anglers who purchased the new three-year individual angling license in 2013 when it first became available must renew their license this year.

Anglers can help maintain and enhance Minnesota’s famed walleye fishing by adding the $5 walleye stamp validation to their licenses. The stamp is not required to fish for or keep walleye.

Customers who purchase online via smartphone won’t receive a conventional paper license. Instead, they’ll receive a text message or email that serves as proof of a valid fish or game license to state conservation officers. A printed copy of the text or email also can serve as proof of a valid license.

Ice shelter permits for 2015 remain effective through Saturday, April 30.

Until next time, the weather is warming and the ice is slowly disappearing from our lakes, so it’s a great time to get out and enjoy spending time in our great Minnesota outdoors.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers, not only during the holiday season but for the rest of the year. They are the reason that we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.

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