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



Missing the Twin Cities

I used to love going to the Sculpture Garden in the Twin Cities. Living in Colorado now is a pretty big change. It’s been 3 and a quarter years since I moved. I used to think Colorado was pretty progressive,,,,until I lived in Minneapolis. There I went on my first peace walks to the capital in St. Paul. One I remember, walking down uptown. Cold and breezy day. I love attending and working at the University of Minnesota. I love learning. Every day I met someone from a different country. Quangs was my favorite restaurant. The best Vietnamese. Fresh and beautiful. It’s on Eat Street. The NY Times rated it as one of the best. I miss my little cafe across the street from my brownstone on Bryant, MyTFINE. Friendliest people, finest baked delicatesies and rotating dinner menu. I miss Lake Harriet and the summer evening walks around the lake…well halfway around to the bandstand. And the concerts with Jenny, Tom and Benny. We would lay on a blanket relaxing to the music. Lake Calhoun was like the most beautiful mirror facing the sky at 5:00 a.m. Meeting the guys to fish, drinking coffee after casting my line out to the lazy muskies….ahh, what memories. I remember in the middle of winter, Jenny and I would set out to go to the Mennonite church in St. Paul and turn around, changing our minds and go to the Mall of America instead. We felt a little guilty and blamed our craziness on the harsh long winters. I remember in the Spring and summer swinging on their porch swing while enjoying the aromas from the Mexican Mercado on the next street. We would walk through the ally and buy 2 dozen home made tortillas for 99 cents. I loved Jenny and Toms friends from their work and the University. We appreciated beer together letting this old lady hang lose with them. The Farmer’s Market was the best around. The Hmong refugees had 10 magic green thumbs that could grow the most beautiful and tasty basil and tomatoes!  i miss the mom and pop cafes and coffee shops and the greatest old used book stores around. I miss a lot about those 2 cities. Guess I’ll have to make a visit soon. Been too long. I’m sure one of the guys will let me borrow a fishing pole.

“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