By Lindsay Briscoe
When I was young and practically just out of diapers, my brother and I used to paddle our canoe into the bay in front of our cabin on Gull Rock Lake and I’d haul in more fish on a tiny blue plastic rod than we knew what to do with. When we got older my parents sold the cabin but still, after a day of fishing, we’d often pull up to shore somewhere on Red Lake where my dad would fry up a batch of walleye. He’d bend over a sizzling pan of lard in the excruciatingly hot sun and bat madly at the circling army of mosquitoes and horseflies just to be able to see my mom and I sink our teeth into his culinary masterpiece and say: ‘Oh, that’s soooo good.’ I’ve travelled to many seaside locales and sampled a number of exotic fish but, for me, there are few things more succulent than fresh caught walleye, fried to golden-crisp perfection – and few things more exciting than catching them.
That’s why the July fishing lull is such a hard jig to swallow. This year is no exception. The last few times I’ve gone out have been fairly unfruitful missions and, after chatting with others around town, I know I’m not alone. I hate to say it, but up until a few days ago, mid-summer fishing had started to lose a bit of its lustre.
Then we had family visiting from California. They cherish their memories of walleye fishing up here years ago and they couldn’t wait to get out on the lake. We set out on a hunt for the biggest walleye they’d never seen but were disappointed when, after two trips out on the lake, we still hadn’t landed anything anywhere near writing home about. The third time we sucked it up, gave up on the big one, packed away the net and took them to a trusty old hole. It was in trolling over that hole that we hammered ‘em, as they say. They were all small enough to make us laugh but I don’t think our guests could’ve been happier. I’m not sure why but I think someone even brought the net back out. Their pure joy and excitement just to be out in our boat catching something – anything – reminded me how lucky we are to have to live hereeven if the fish aren’t biting (and even if we forget it in the depths of our winter despair).
Even in the middle of July when the lake warms up and the going gets tough for us fishermen and women, you can still bring home a decent catch in these parts. Heck, you could cast a string on a stick into the Chukuni River for an hour after work and I’m sure you’d have at least something for dinner.