Column: Balmy August day on the lake; life lessons and a few pikes
DETROIT LAKES — I have lived two separate lives in my 42 years on the planet.
A decade as a non-Minnesotan and the rest as a borderline upstanding tundra dweller.
One would not notice the three-quarters Minnesota influence in my lifestyle when it comes to the outdoors.
Once a decade, my two worlds meet in just such an arena. This year, during my birthday week.
My good friend Kipp likes to visit Minnesota from Dallas for a variety reasons. Our region and Dallas are about as opposite as one can get in the United States, especially, when it comes to weather.
Kipp left weeks straight of temperatures over 100 degrees for last week’s highs here in the 70s. He was amazed to be sitting around a fire at night and even brought a hoodie to wear while here.
Aside from the occasional beer, one activity on the list mandatory for his visits is a fishing trip with my friend James.
We pick James, because he takes the time to care, gets the boat set up, the cooler, picks us up and basically instructs two rather novice fishermen in the finer aspects of what should probably come naturally to most Minnesotans.
Not me, as I am sure can be noted by the slim amount of outdoor articles I write. I leave that topic to the professionals, like Brian Hansel, at the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
I was happy with a bag of seeds, a couple brews, and not having to sweat in the balmy August temps. That happiness was a good thing, because for four hours, I managed to get shut out for the most part.
Tiny perch don’t count.
Kipp landed a nice bass early from Big Detroit Lake and managed to pull in the random northern and plenty of panfish to keep his action steady.
James seemed to catch fish at will in many of the holes we stopped to fish.
We were out on a rare catch and eat mission. Most of my fishing trips involve release as I’m about as adept at cleaning fish, as I am catching them.
I was just happy to be out on the lake enjoying some time off with good friends, but as the day wore on I got a bit restless with the rod.
“James, takes us out to the deep and load me up a spoon,” I said.
If I do any fishing well, it’s casting an old-school daredevil into some weeds and pulling out some ugly pikes. It’s the basis of most of my fishing knowledge, which I accrued as a child trying to fit in with many of my other friends.
Plus, James wanted some northerns to pickle.
I fired out a bright yellow and orange spoon to various locations with no science behind it. I did have a firm belief that I was finally going to land a few strikes.
I covered Kipp and my limit on those ugly northerns in about an hour.
For a brief moment, I almost felt like an outdoorsman.
Until one northern slipped the lip of the live well and landed at my feet.
“Next time, don’t jump away like that,” said James. “It makes it too funny.”
“Dude,” said Kipp.
It was neither my finest nor most manly moment, but where I lack in these common traits of the Minnesota man, I choose to make up for in literary studies with a philosophical bent.
That tends to make one a bit more popular with the ladies at the local watering hole, and when applied with having a big mouth, get one punched by the dudes.
One of life’s great lessons is humility with humor: accepting that one cannot always fit in, one might get punched, be bad at something, look dumb doing it, but in the end, manage a way to save face.
Put that in your live well.
I really enjoyed fishing, as long as I did not have to do much other than try not to be a complete sissy.
I failed, but had fun nonetheless, accepting my role.
Like Albert Camus said, “At 30, a man should know himself like the palm of his hand, know the exact number of his defects and qualities, know how far he can go, foretell his failures - be what he is. And, above all, accept these things.”
At 42, that was easy.