Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Front Edge of Winter

Saturday was a great day to go fishing however looking at the forecast for Sunday and the rest of the week, I decided to finish up a number of chores that I had been putting off. Lyle had brought over his pontoon and Wellcraft for their annual hibernation so I was relegated to cleaning the pole barn on Saturday. With lows predicted in the low 20's it was probably time to blow out the sprinkler system before it freezes. Using my own air compressor to do the job it takes about 3 hours, a great excuse to be outside. Outside was not necessarily the nicest place today as you can see from the picture of my garden. Those white streaks are snow. Ice fishing must be just around the corner. The time working on the sprinklers gave thought to what I would have been doing back home 35 years ago.

Growing up in Eleva, local fishing consisted of either fishing the Buffalo River for suckers, carp, catfish and the occasional northern pike or fishing the local mill pond and the surrounding streams for trout. Carp and suckers provided plenty of entertainment from the time the snow melted until the first weekend of May which for Eleva was trout fishing opener. Along with the Wisconsin DNR the local Rod and Gun Club would stock the ponds and streams with trout. By the closing in September, most of the trout had been harvested and the thoughts were focused on hunting. My best friend Kevin and I would trade our fishing poles for our shotguns or 22's and head back to the river. Squirrel, ducks, and partridge (they call them grouse in Minnesota) were the most popular game. The river had a bridge crossing it every 2 miles, so we would head to the railroad tracks which paralleled the river, walk up to the first woods then head to the river. We would walk up to the bridge, cross and head down the other side. Squirrels were very abundant and partridge were a bonus. If you look on Google Earth, you can see the river actually meanders quite a bit. Over the years the river would created a number of oxbow sloughs which provided great habitat for teal and wood ducks. The problem with shooting ducks was often they would land on the other side of the river. This meant one of us would have to strip down and go get it. Today's weather reminded me how cold that was!

Back then Canadian Geese were very rare and when a migrating flock was spotted you could guarantee someone was following it to see where they might land. Today they are known in Minnesota as sky carp. I have a group of 5 to 10 geese come in every day to feast upon the spoils of my orchard. I have 11 apple trees and 3 pear trees and it is hard to keep up with all the fruit. The deer amazingly leave the apples alone until they drop however they have competition. These geese have enormous appetites and literally keep the area very clean while leaving a nice layer of fertilizer for next years crop. They are quite amazing to watch how efficiently they rip an apple to shreds. Geese also have a distinct social order, especially if another flock decides to share in the abundance of food. It can take up to and hour before a flock will let another into their mists to enjoy the bounty.
It's suppose to warm up later this week and I am going to try and get out one last time for some perch and walleye. I also have to set up my deer stand for the following week as I look forward to hunting with my friends Jack and Rich. Hopefully the ice will be on the lakes by Thanksgiving.

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