Ready To Roll


A young angler with a nice smallmouth bass from Basswood Lake near Ely last summer.

     It’s the eve of Minnesota’s 2008 fishing opener, and I’m eager to head north. I’ll be fishing on Lake Vermilion with guides Dave Schaeffer and Denny Van de Linde. Lake Vermilion might still have ice on it. Schaeffer said this morning that there was "a lot of ice" remaining on the 39,000-acre lake that stretches from Tower to Cook, but he thought there was enough open water to get where he wants to go.

    This is a remarkable year, with a late ice-out and an early opener coinciding. The last time we had an opener with so much ice remaining on lakes was 1996, after the severe winter of 1995-1996.

    Photographer Clint Austin and I will spend Saturday morning fishing with Schaeffer and Van de Linde, then buzz back to Duluth to file our stories and photographs for Sunday’s paper. It’s a quick turn-around but one were accustomed to doing on the fishing opener and the deer opener.

    I love the opener. I like the hum of activity at lakes and public landings and out on the water. I like the promise of a new season. I’ve laid in a supply of new jigs. I’ve had new line strung on my reels. I bought a new rod and reel to replace the one my 18-year-old accidently let go of when he was making a cast last year on a trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. ("I didn’t even hurry to grab it, because I thought it would float.")

    That part is all fresh and new. But it’s the predictable elements of fishing that I look forward to. The gentle rocking of the boat on a little walleye chop. The subtle tunk of a walleye inhaling your jig. And that sweet resistance on the end of the line when you set your hook on a good fish. Whether you’re 4 or 74, that part of fishing never gets old.

    And there’s the bonus, on good days, of walleye fillets curling in the frying pan at the end of the day.

    If you’re going out, good luck.