But, even though I usually have been outstate (up north) for the Opener in previous years, it was never really because it was fishing opener. In other words, even if I did fish a little on the opener, it was never the reason I was there.
I remember the first opener very well. I was at Itasca, with my daughter (then a very little kid). Itasca is a lake that is said to be the headwaters of the Mississippi River. It has a nice state park, and the University of Minnesota has a facility there for research, education, and conferencing. I was conferencing.
Not even realizing it was opener, I did stop to get a fishing license on the way up. In Minnesota, once you are out of the Twin Cities, every store and gas station without exception sells fishing licenses. More Minnesotans have fishing licenses per capita than any other state. We also golf more, volunteer more, and bike more. But again, that’s another story.
Anyway, Saturday afternoon on Opener Day, there was a break in the conference (or, more likely, nothing interesting was happening) so I grabbed Julia and we together grabbed some tackle and a canoe and headed out on the still frigid lake. I did not want to go too far from the shore because that time of year, in that part of the country, falling in the water is usually fatal if you don’t get out really soon. So we stayed near the shore and fished the places that looked like they might have some vegetation and cover in a few weeks, where there was a little structure.
Meanwhile, the lake was thick with Lund boats sporting multiple motors, swivel chairs, sonar, and occupied by large cammo-clad men loaded to the teeth with fishing gear. This is very funny for a number of reasons. First, they were wearing cammo. Fishing. Second, they were all fishing with jigs. So they had their big-ol’ rods hanging of the boats and were bobbing them up and down like you see little kids doing off a dock. Nobody was casting lures. They were all jigging with live bait. That was very funny. Third, they were not catching a thing. Nothing. Nada. Their big ol’ nets stood at the ready dry.
But Julia and I really hardly noticed. Because we were catching things. Casting the trusty ol’ Mepps towards the shore, we were pulling in … and releasing …. medium sized northerns (15-20 inches). Until we got bored, cold, and hungry. And were feeling a little self conscious because of all the big men in cammo staring at us. Like we were walking away and their dog was following us instead of staying with them. Or their wives were asking us for a ride to the train station. Or they had just lost their jobs because of outsourcing and we were the country India.
I think it was the canoe that was really driving them nuts.