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Notes from the dockside: A rainy night

It was Sunday, the second day of the Minnesota fishing season. Fishing is always a bit slower on the second day. The day before on the Opener the lake and fish were subjected to an armada of boats and probably thousands of fishermen. A great many fish were caught and probably many more spooked.

On Sunday morning we left our cabin, Drakes Hideaway, on Cut Foot Sioux, heading out on the water. A few fish were caught but they were a lot fewer then we caught the day before.

In the afternoon my fishing buddy Dennis and I threaded our way through a river to a small lake. I recalled several years ago we caught fish there when we couldn’t find them anyplace else. Here we found fish feeding in eight to ten feet of water close to a marshy shore and in a couple of hours we caught half a dozen walleyes and a big crappie.

We were there less than an hour when the rain which was predicted caught up to us. It didn’t seem too bad at first but came down steadily. An hour later we quite to return to the cabin. There were four or five of our fellow fish campers waiting for us and we promised them a fish fry.

Once we got back I quickly cleaned the fish we caught, added them to a couple bags of fillets in the refrigerator and started dinner. The fillets were rolled in breading while a cast iron skillet with vegetable oil was heating. As I fried the fish Dennis cut up a batch of potatoes, sliced a couple of onions and dropped them in a pan with a stick butter.

There wasn’t any food left by the time dinner was over. The rain had degenerated to a light mist with lighter gray skies moving in. It looked like the rain was going to stop soon. Dennis and I decided to go back out. Our wet weather gear we wore earlier and now hanging from antlers on a couple of deer heads and a gun rack was just damp. That was close enough to being dry.

The rest of the group except Ryan were getting ready to leave for home. Ryan didn’t think too hard about going with us. He was out on the water earlier in the afternoon, and had all the rain he cared for. As the young man of the group, he probably thought us two old guys were a bit daffy for going out in the rain again.

But it looked like it was going to stop soon so Dennis and I had great hopes. As we motored back to that little lake the rain actually did stop. This was starting to look good. We dropped our jigs and minnows into the water and slowly started moving along the deeper water. We were at this for just a couple of minutes when it started to rain again. But it seemed to be a light rain and certainly no worse than what we experienced earlier.

It took about 20 minutes before I felt a sharp rap on my bait, pulling back to set the hook. I felt a fish fighting against my light spinning rod and it went deep, doubling over my spinning rod. It was a keeper walleye and it went into the livewell.

Suddenly we felt a cold wind. The wind was picking up and the light gray sky we saw earlier turned dark and angry. The rain came back with a vengeance. At one point it turned to pea size hail and we heard it beating against the hoods of our rain jackets. The wind and rain was getting worse and it pounded us.

In another hour Dennis picked up a small northern pike he released and a keeper walleye we put in the livewell. By this time the rain had seeped through everything I was wearing. Light was fading. I looked at Dennis. He was shivering and I think so was I.

We headed back to the cabin. Darkness came quicker than we expected. I followed the shoreline by the tops of the trees as daylight disappeared and it was dark by the time we pulled up to the dock. The light from the cabin shining through the wet darkness looked warm, dry and inviting. Dennis and I grabbed the fish and headed to the cabin.

When we burst into the cabin, Ryan was watching a baseball game. We stood there with water running off us, dripping onto the floor. I think he was very glad he decided not to go with us. Dennis made a pot of coffee and I poured myself a glass of bourbon. We pulled off wet clothes, hanging them back on the antlers and gun rack and gratefully pulled on dry clothes. After a couple cups of coffee Dennis headed for the bunk room as I poured another bourbon.

Then I remembered there were two fish to clean and probably we needed to charge the battery on the trolling motor. I headed for the door. Rain was still pouring. Ryan pulled on his jacket and came with me. I think he took pity on two old idiots who didn’t know enough to stay out of the rain. I cleaned fish while Ryan brought up the battery. I sure appreciated his help. I wasn’t looking forward to lugging a heavy battery up the bluff to the cabin.

The fish were deposited in the refrigerator and the battery hooked to a charger. I mixed another bourbon and sat down. I was warm and relatively dry after cleaning the fish in the rain. It was a good feeling to know I didn’t have to go back out in the rain and wind and cold anymore tonight. Now I felt comfortably tired and the bourbon tasted real good while the rain rattled against the windows and drummed on the roof of  the cabin in the dark.

Editor’s Note: The Notes From The Dockside is an exclusive feature appearing in the Hudson Star-Observer on the first and third issues of each month.

--Mike Yurk, Dockside Columnist

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