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The Last Windrow: Dreaming of open water fishing

I was digging my way to the back of our garage recently when I came across my fishing boat, stored there for the winter.

I’d almost forgotten the boat was present because of all the garden implements, snow removal equipment and miscellaneous other junk that had somehow found its way to cover the boat over this past winter.

The interior of the boat had also attracted non-fishing related items like a brush saw, camping chairs, sleeping bags, the inside filter from my Shop Vac, my wife’s planting pots and a bag of fertilizer. The boat had become a magnet for our overwinter discards.

As I cleared away the debris from the boat, I thought about last year and the fishing trips the boat had made. As the snow melted off the garage roof, I thought about that big smallmouth bass my wife hooked up in Canada and the excitement in the boat just before the fish reversed the hook and sped off toward the bottom before we could get a picture.

I climbed into the boat and sat at the tiller handle for a time and remembered that big walleye I tied into for just a moment late last fall when there wasn’t another boat on the lake. I had boated a few “eater” size walleyes before the big fish inhaled the florescent yellow jig and minnow. I couldn’t move the fish off the bottom and it made just a short run before the jig popped out and I uttered my oath to the heavens, hoping no one on earth would hear.

A bad hip cut down my fishing trips last year, but I’ve got a new wheel this spring. It's healing well and I might actually be able to climb in the boat without wincing. I plan to have more trips on the water without pain.

Winter will surely end sometime in the future, the ice will pull away from the shorelines of northern Minnesota and once again liquid water will lap against the shoreline. If I get my boat cleaned out in time, I may be able to enjoy a trip or two hunting early spawning crappies, one of my favorite early angling adventures.

Last year’s late departing winter ruined the Minnesota fishing “opener” for many and I’m hoping we don’t experience that again. Boats are made to float in the water, not skid across the ice to an open hole.

My boat in the back of the garage looks very good right now. I can almost smell the gas/oil mixture, feel the push of the prop as I head for the sandbar where walleyes hover and smell the freshness in the air that only spring can bring. It’s not that far away, promise.

My fishing boat will come out of storage soon. The floor will be vacuumed, the motor will be tested and it will be pointed at the garage door exit. It is that time of year. I think my fellow anglers are ready.

See you next time. Okay?