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The Last Windrow: Most memorable opener was fish-less

It was a great Minnesota fishing opener even if not a walleye entered my boat.

This is the week that next to Christmas, Fourth of July and Thanksgiving, another "holiday" exists. This Saturday is the official Minnesota fishing opener, as if any of you might need to be reminded.

Those who don't fish could care less, but to anglers across the state and the region, this one of the most exciting outdoor events happening during any year.

There was a time back in my younger years when I actually developed nose bleeds because of the pent up anxiety that the fishing openers brought to me. Many times I tossed and turned during the night with one bloodshot eye on the alarm clock. Sunrise could not come soon enough as visions of giant walleyes coming to net floated through my brain cells.

I could almost smell the aroma of outboard motor smoke and feel the boat bucking across the whitecaps of the lake. I didn't need to hear the alarm to jump out of my bed and head for the coffee pot now perking on the stove.

I don't know when the two collided, but the Minnesota fishing opener and Mother's Day somehow came to share the same weekend. You would think that humans could have figured out that this was not a good idea. Any fisher person has or has had a mother. They all know how much their mothers have meant to them in their growing up years. Wiping noses, washing dirty clothes, keeping the peace between siblings and just doing what a mother always does - that is caring for a kid.

In my case, a future fisherman.

And so, with that onus hanging over our collective heads, we head for the water with Mom on our mind. At least I did.

That pot of coffee perking on the stove during my fishing opening days was put on the burner by my mother, Millie. She was up before I was, and along with the coffee she always had a fresh baked pan full of the most delicious cinnamon rolls that have ever been produced on this earth.

Once slathered with a chunk of real butter that melted down into the crevasses, there was no greater treat a human could experience. Mom had these present for every fishing opener that I and my brothers, sisters and friends experienced. The day just wouldn't have been as special without those rolls.

And so, that opener so long ago, I headed out on the open water along with my brother and sister. It was 4:30 a.m. when we purred out of the bay and onto the big water. Each of us had thoughts of that first gentle tug on our line and even the frigid temps of that morning couldn't dampen our excitement.

We trolled our way across the lake, visiting places where we had caught a fish in previous years. Snowflakes greeted us at the north end of the lake as the north wind picked up. Instead of warming up, the temps started to fall. Sleet, snow and cold rain pelted the three anglers floating atop the water.

Two hours of suffering followed and in the end we could not feel our fingers and turning the crank on the reel became almost impossible. The motor on the boat was spitting and sputtering and finally just gave up the ghost and stopped. After cranking for five minutes the motor finally came to life and we decided we'd had enough misery and headed back across the whitecaps to the house.

Not a walleye had entered the boat. Not a bite had been felt, although as cold as our frozen fingers were, we could have had a bite and not known we had a bite.

We tied the bouncing boat to the dock and headed back to the shelter of the house. As we entered the warm kitchen that aroma of those warm cinnamon rolls greeted our frosted nostrils. The feeling was nirvana to three cubes of ice.

Soon afterward, my brother and his friend came into the kitchen, both frigid and fish-less as well. They too headed directly to the pan of rolls.

It was a great fishing opener even if not a walleye entered either of our boats. Mother Millie's hot cinnamon rolls healed all pains. The next day was Mother's Day. We bought Millie a colorful bouquet of flowers and spent Mother's Day at her dinner table. The walleyes could wait a bit.

I remember that fishing opener more than any when I had real fishing success. Happy Mother's Day! (And, good luck on the "opener"!)

See you next time. Okay?