I spent the Sunday of last year’s Minnesota firearms deer season opener in a boat on the Rainy River fishing walleyes. The fish were biting, and the day was gorgeous, with a high temperature that flirted with 70 degrees.
The next weekend, I was in a boat fishing with a Canadian friend on the Manitoba side of the Red River near Selkirk, Man. The fishing and the weather wasn’t quite as good as the previous weekend, but for mid-November, the conditions were very comfortable indeed.
Similar conditions persisted into early December in 2015, and fishing was excellent during a mid-November trip to the Red River north of Selkirk.
This year, by the looks of it, my open water fishing is done for the season. According to the National Weather Service, there’s snow in the forecast through Sunday afternoon, and the temperature Sunday night is expected to dip into the single digits.
Monday’s high temperature will be in the low 20s. The extended forecast isn’t much better.
Brrr. And ick.
Historically, that’s probably closer to the weather conditions one typically associates with deer season, but I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t prefer the shirtsleeve weather we had the previous two Novembers, since I was fishing and not hunting.
This year, fall is ending too soon for my tastes. October passed in a blur, and the wind seemed to blow every day. Still, the ruffed grouse hunting friends and I encountered during our annual get-together in northwest Minnesota was better than the reports I’d been hearing before the trip.
I would have preferred a few more snow-free days in the woods or in a boat.
At this rate, we’ll probably have 20 below zero temperatures — or worse — by the time muzzleloader season rolls around.
Still, you play the cards Mother Nature deals and make the best of it when it comes to spending time outdoors. And on the upside, it looks as if I’ll be getting the ice fishing gear out of storage earlier than I did last year. Ditto for the snowmobiles.
I have some catching up to do on both counts.
Shoulder surgery in early January put me on the sidelines for most of last winter. I got in a fishing trip to Lake of the Woods before Christmas and spent New Year’s Day fishing Lake Winnipeg with a couple of friends.
Fishing was excellent on both of those excursions, but that was it for me until March, when I was able to “one-arm” a couple of northern pike through the ice while tip-up fishing with friends on Devils Lake. When a flag popped, I’d grab the line with my good arm and walk away from the hole as a friend helped steer the fish onto the ice.
As for snowmobiling, I logged a total of 3 miles on my sled.
There definitely will be more ice fishing and more snowmobiling on the horizon if these conditions hold.
Still, I’d have been content to wait a few more weeks.