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The Last Windrow: Hats off to Brainerd Jaycees

This past Saturday saw a mass of people clad in snowsuits, carrying buckets while striding confidently out to what is called the Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza on Gull Lake.

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This past Saturday saw a mass of people clad in snowsuits, carrying buckets while striding confidently out to what is called the Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza on Gull Lake.

It's a treat just to stand there and witness the various ways humans choose to challenge the northern Minnesota weather slipping across slick ice in pursuit of winning a new pickup.

This year the crowd was greeted by global warming weather. Temps in the 30-above range saw some in the crowd relieving themselves of their coats and playing football in T-shirts. Beverages didn't freeze in their containers this year, and the ice anglers didn't need to keep breaking ice from the top of their fishing hole.

It was marvelous!

Those who have never fished on the ice just can't fathom this sport. It seems so foreign to them that ice fishermen will actually put a $40,000 truck on two feet of ice over 30 feet of water without even thinking.

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Sure, there are some who have the misfortune of wandering too close to open water and sinking their vehicle, but those occasions are rare.

And, the lingo of ice fishing is interesting to those who have never participated. You hear words like "mousies," "wax worms," "teardrops," "Swedish Pimples," "depth finders," "ice strainers," "chisels" and "augers."

I never came across words like that among the cornstalks of northwest Iowa.

We were more into warm weather fishing since there were no lakes nearby. No one ice fished on the Floyd River while I was a resident there. And dipping a doughball into the warm river water of summer was about as far away from ice fishing as anything could be.

The anglers fishing the extravagana last Saturday used the latest in technology. They toted out high powered electronic depth finders; some had underwater TV sets; exotic lures were tried. Ice fishing has come a long way from the time anglers used a sinker, plain hook and a worm or a minnow.

Technology may have made some feel more confident in their ability to catch a fish, but nobody has ever taught a fish to respect that knowledge. Take it from me, I spent one full afternoon among that throng one year and the only thing making my bobber wiggle was the minnow at the end of my line.

It is not hard to be skunked at this event. I've done it.

We who choose to live up here among the pines and timberwolves need something like the Ice Fishing Extravaganza to happen this time of year. By this time we've lived through the mid-point of winter and garden seed catalogs are arriving in our mailboxes, giving us all hope that spring winds will soon loft warm weather our way, making this wimpy winter but a memory.

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Other than staring at chickadees extracting sunflower seeds from our birdfeeders, there's really not much else to excite the brain. Especially with no snow coating the landscape.

Watching some excited ice angler sprint across the ice of the fishing grounds with a fish in his or her plastic bag on the way to the tournament scale kind of makes the winter shorter somehow. Too bad I never had that exact experience. I trudged off the ice after the extravaganza with exactly what I slid out to my spot with - nothing.

Well, except that one minnow I used.

But, all for a very good charitable cause. My hat's off to the Jaycees and their volunteers!

See you next time. Okay?

Related Topics: THE LAST WINDROW
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