Eye Popping Memories of Fishing in Minnesota

My Minnesota guru of fishing, Bill Tikwinski recently sent me this picture. You bet my eyes popped out! That fish is just about as big as him! This toothy Pike was caught smack dab in the middle of Minneapolis on Lake Calhoun. Bill taught me just about everything I know about Minnesota fishing. When I moved to Minnesota from Oklahoma, I didn’t have a clue as to what bait to use or even the size of hook or lures.

I remember trying to branch out to learn more about the city and multiple gorgeous, glacial lakes that were in it and surrounding it and I went to a bakery and then to the Lake Calhoun dock with a fishing pole my son-in-law lent me. (I still have it, sorry Tom). I watched others fishing and knew I was ill prepared. I struck up conversation with a young man leaning over the dock with his fishing pole. He had just gotten off his night shift as a disk jockey. He said, “Now if you REALLY want to know how to fish, you need to come out here early in the morning around 5:30 or 6 and ask for Bill.”

So the next weekend I got up early, had my coffee and then proceeded to chicken out. However, the weekend after that I put on my big girl panties and ventured back out to the dock. There were several men out there really chewing the fat and laughing while drinking coffee from their thermos’s. One joker was telling a joke about women and they were just giggling up a storm. Yeah, men can giggle. I thought oh dang; I hope that’s not Bill, the liberated woman that does not appreciate women jokes. I got brave again and turned around and asked the joker…”are you Bill?” He said, “Well yes young lady, I am.”

From then on he was my teacher, my fishing guru, my friend. Image



If You want to Go Fishing, Better not Say that Again!

I almost choked today. I was taking care of a friends little kiddlings, age 7 and 8 for half day after their morning camp. The choking part. Well picture this: We are in Green Mountain Falls eating sandwiches at a cafe before we fished. These little critters are usually very quiet, however, out of no where, my ears were ringing with Jacob’s exclamation, “I’M VOTING FOR MITT ROMNEY!” Everyone turned and looked at us, I pushed the bread down my craw and screeched, “where’s the soap?” OMG. It was so funny and mortifying at the same time. As most of you know, I am pretty liberal. I also live in one of the few tiny liberal pockets in Colorado. For the rest of the day Little Jake kept saying that and I finally told him, “It’s a free country, but if you want to go fishing, you better not say that again.” 🙂

Full Day on the Mountain

I really, really, wanted to fish today, however, that wasn’t in the cards. My fishing buddy down the road has been hard to reach and I’ve been unbelievably busy unpacking, cleaning, entertaining out of town guests and working. Actually, I’ve been a little pissed at my fishing buddy, Bill (Not Long for this World post). A couple weeks ago he went fishing and caught a 21 inch wild brown trout along with about 75 others that he released. He says. Anyway, he cleaned it and put it in the freezer for me and told me to come by after work and get it. I was sick and extremely dead tired after work that night, and with every turning winding curve on lower Twin Rock Road, I thought I was going to lose my cookies so I did not stop to pick up my fish and went straight home. Bill got pissed at me and fed my fish to his dogs the next day. Now why did he have to go and do that? Well things have been winding down. Mikes family is gone, wedding is over, I’m gradually getting unpacked and I’m feeling a little more rested. So this morning I stopped by Bill’s. “Where the heck have you been!” he exclaimed. I gave him a hug and told him good to see him and I heard he fed my fish to Shortstack. He said, he was a MAN OF HIS WORD, something he repeats often. I said I was puking all the way up the mountain that night. Anyway, that was the end of the fuming and we talked about when the hell we were going to fish together again.

After I parted from Bill, I headed down the hwy to the little eye blink of Florissant. I heard they had a Coffeehouse called Costello’s and I wanted to check it out. It’s in a very old Victorian house…just about the only house in the little “downtown.” http://www.costellostreetcoffeehouse.com/ Here is the website so you can check out a picture, etc. It’s across from the Thunderbird Inn which is the other only open business besides the library and a couple gas stations, oh and some feed stores and I’m sure I’ve missed something and will offend another business owner if they read this but seriously, just about all the business there that are still standing in this little blink of an eye town are closed down and boarded up. There were lots of rules to this coffee/tea house (they boast of having high tea parties at times) and they make paninis and other breakfast/lunch items and sometimes special dinners. Back to the rules. On the gate was a sign that said, No outside drinks allowed. Then I got to the screen door and there is another sign that says the same thing. There was also another sign on the screen door that said to SHUT IT. I made my way through the pretty antique dining room to the counter with beautiful pasties and pies and stuck on the cash register was another sign that said that they prefer cash bc credit cards are expensive and if we want to keep the costs down, pay cash. Before I could order my Breve and shortbread cookie to go, I was feeling sort of negative. I looked down at myself searching for a to go cup I might have accidentally dragged in with me and had on my person, feeling like I might get locked up or yelled at. But I was clear of such contraband and wiping my forehead, placed my order. While waiting on my Breve, I read another sign on the wall. It was softer though, done in needlepoint with a frame. It said, “Friends don’t let friends go to Starbucks.” I thought, well the owner doesn’t have anything to worry about here about Starbucks. And then I remembered, just 12 miles down the mountain in a little town of 5,500 population, there IS a Starbucks!. My Breve was good and my cookie melted in my mouth. The soft spoken girl that prepared it said she was new and she was sweet, however, when I left, I thought, it’s just not very inviting to have so many rules involved in buying a cup of coffee and a cookie.

So I went on down the mountain to clean my friend Jack’s house. He had called me a total of 8 times last week. I have been cleaning his solar mountain house down the mountain in Woodland Park every month until I moved up here and I’ve been just too overwhelmed with moving, etc. I haven’t been there for a while, and he sounded desperate. Jack is a semi-hoarder so I clean around his stacks. It’s not as bad as you see on tv, but he likes to keep stuff like bills that are from 1950 and movie stubs from 1970’s and ski lift tickets from every year he has ever skied. He’s 72 and still skiing. And empty Wendy’s cups and birthday presents and Christmas presents in little stacks. He just can’t let go of stuff, but like I say, it’s not nearly as bad as what you see on tv.

After that I ran a few errands, one to the quilt fabric shop and to Walmart. The Walmart here is a little bit like a country club on the outside with a big bronze statue of a deer in the landscaped entrance. Pikes Peak is jutting out in back of it. Many people rebelled against it being built. But capitalism won and took over what was once a haven for woods animals and birds. They can still wander around but might bump in to this massive piece of “have to have it” store. My favorite part of this Walmart is the frozen food section that is dark until you walk by it and the lights turn on by a sensor. I guess one might call this a “green” Walmart. I bought my fishnet (I’m emptying a fish aquarium as I write) and 15 other items I didn’t plan on and checked out.

On the way home I took some pictures and below you will see them. I stopped at Bills again and told him I bought a one day fishing license for Thursday morning. (One of the 15 items I bought at Walmart) We haggled over what time we should meet and agreed to 5:30. He said if I am late he will leave without me because “I am a man of my word.” I told him bullshit and that he needs to be a little more flexible and he said he can’t change. And I said neither could I. So we parted with a laugh and I’ll set my alarm for 4:30 on Thursday and do what I love to do best and hopefully Bill won’t leave without me if I’m a few minutes late.

Fishing the South Platte. Heaven on Earth!

South Platte, Back Exit Tonkawa, Near Hartsel, Colorado

I fished my ass off this Friday. Second time out with friend and fishing guide, Bill. He’s got the bug. I’ve got the bug. I’ve never been so tired in my life after walking miles up and down the South Platte near

South Platte, Deckers, Colorado, last Friday in June, 2010

Hartsel. It was awesome! We were the first out in our area. Picked him up in Florissant at 5 a.m., stopped for gas, ice for the Coronnas and headed on down Hwy 24 to hwy 9. This is the route I took home from Breckenridge when the kids were visiting to ski in March.  Wilkerson Pass is gorgeous and I understand why the Indians settled there on the gorgeous golden prairie that slides right into the jutting snow-covered mountains.

By 7:30 a.m. , Bill pulled in his first big one, however, not big enough to keep. This wild brown trout measured in at 18 inches. Needed to be over 21. I caught about 7 med. to little browns and returned them to the winding river and Bill says he caught a total of 25. I didn’t witness all of them….He scooted ahead of me sometimes along the winding curve of the river. My shins and calves are sunburned, bug bitten and bush scratched. I had to sit down a couple of times and enjoyed a Coronna and nectarine while experiencing the most beautiful scent of sage and flowers that bordered the river. There were wild irises and yellow columbines too that quilted the grass and sage.

Beer and nectarine break along the South Platte

The areas that looked like the only place to hide one’s buttocks while relieving ones self looked like a perfect meeting place for mountain lions so after about 5 hours I talked Bill back to the car for a drive

Friend and fishing guide, Bill. Hob cafe and Saloon in Hartsel, Colorado

18 inch wild brown trout

to Hartsel and I had the best patty melt in the strangest old historical musty bar, the Hob Cafe and Saloon. They had dollar bills taped up all over the ceiling and walls. It was good to relax while looking across the hwy at the “Hartsel Jail.” Lots of tourists and Harley dudes and dudettes were hanging out for refreshment too.

Patty melt in Hartsel

After lunch, we explored other parts of the Platte as dark clouds, thunder and lightning moved in. We joked around about the lightning and Bill laughed at my healthy fear of Colorado lightning as I scooted back to the car. He said he’s ready to go and it might as well be by lightning. I asked him if he wanted to be resuscitated and he said, hell no. I told him I recently had a trip to see my grandsons and Pete and Benny and I really hit it off so I’d like to stay around a couple more years if possible…

We then went back to our honey hole where we started early in the morning.  By then I was pretty exhausted because I didn’t get much sleep the night before and got up at 4 a.m., however, I walked another mile or two along the river casting along the way. By five we decided it was time to head home. Traffic was wild and crazy and drivers were dangerous as we headed towards Wilkerson Pass and Florissant, our home base. I crashed and slept a gazillion hours dreaming of the sweet smelling sage, the gorgeous winding gurgling river, wild brown trout and the snow speckled mountains in the background. Doesn’t get better than that.

“I fish better with a cigar; some fish better with talent.”

  • The gods do not deduct from man’s allotted span the hours spent in fishing – Babylonian Proverb
  • Bragging may not bring happiness, but no man having caught a large fish goes home through an alley. – Author Unknown
  • Many men go dishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.  Henry David Thoreau
  • There is certainly something in angling that tends to produce a serenity of mind. – Washington Irving
  • My biggest worry is that my wife(when I’m dead) will sell my fishing gear for what I said I paid for it. – Koos Brandt
  • Bass fishermen watch Monday night football, drink beer, drive pickup trucks and prefer noisy women with big breasts.  Trout fishermen watch MacNeil-Lehrer, drink white wine, drive foreign cars with passenger-side air bags and hardly think about women at all.  This last characteristic may have something to do with the fact that trout fishermen spend most of the time immersed up to their thighs in ice-cold water. – Author Unknown
Men and fish are alike.  They both get into trouble when they OPEN THEIR MOUTHS! —AMEN!

When living in Minneapolis, Minnesota I learned to fish for the BIG-UNS (Northern, Muskies, and tasty Walleye). My teachers were Bill, Harry and Chuck.  I lived a few blocks from the Chain of Lakes. My closest lake was Lake Harriet, which ran into Lake Calhoun, where I met the boys in the wee early hours on weekends. I’ll never forget the 5:30 a.m. mirror of water reflecting snow geese flying in their V formation overhead.  What a memory. Bill would greet me with, “Well here comes Sunshine” as I made my way down the creaky dock. I’d open up my portable chair and set down my red plaid metal cooler and tackle.  Plopping my early morning tired self down in my chair, I would attempt to turn the lid on my plastic orange thermos. Sometime the pressure would make it difficult and one of the boys would help. The aroma of the dark bean coffee was beautiful mixed with the early morning misty smell of the lake.  There’s a coffee shop on literally every corner in Minneapolis. A tavern on every corner in Saint Paul…but that’s another story. Anyway, I became a coffee snob.  And yes, every now and then, especially on chilly days, I would lite up a tiny cigar. I’m not sure why the boys took me in. I was one of the only girls on dock with the exception of Margaret and few others that would make a temporary showing. For bait we used giant sucker minnows the size of small Colorado trout, worms and leeches. I don’t like putting worms on the hook. They have a yellow slime when they break apart that I find appalling but I have NO trouble having a leech attach his sucker to my finger while attaching it to the hook. I think that was impressive to the boys.  Well we would sit and pace the dock for four hours average before pulling in our first fish.  Usually they were toothy Northern at least a yard long and walkers, cyclists, and skaters would stop on the lake path and cheer and clap as we would pull them in.  We would unhook them trying not to get bit (I think Bill almost lost his pinky finger once) and we would take pictures and then splash them back in to their home. I so loved fishing with my boys and miss them very much! Including all the bullshitting during the four hour wait.  “We ask a simple question and that is all we wish: Are fishermen all liars? Or do only liars fish?”

The boys lake Calhoun

Nancy Lake Harriet fishing for muskie

Me in about 18 layers of clothing fishing at Lake Harriet, Minneapolis for the infamous MUSKIE!

Harrry, Bill and Chuck