It's one of the cruel facts of life: When you're young enough to walk-down an elk or outclimb a goat, you never have the money for a big game or fishing trip. Then by the time you've raised and schooled the kids and have a few uncommitted dollars - time has take its toll. A larded carcass, ill-supported by protruding discs, is perched atop wobbly ankles and tricky knees For most of us, it is time to settle for roadside grouse hunts or stump-sit for squirrels. Now is not the time to hang it up - go do it.
Well, sir I made up my mind that after I retired from Van Diest Supply Co., I was going to "go do it." I like to fish. I like to catch fish and even more importantly, I like to eat fish. I've been extremely fortunate. I've been able to wet a line in some of the best fishing lakes on earth. This Christmas, I will sit in front of the fireplace and think about them. I'll rehash old memories. I will think about Manitoba, Canada, and Knee Lake, Nejanalini, Neultin, Hayes and Cormorant, and Winnipeg and Churchill Rivers and Knife Lake for big Northerns and walleye. I will think about Ontario and Rainy Lake, Nippigon, Nipissing, Lac Suel, Georgian Bay, Kesagami and more recently, Nungesser, Red Lake and Ghost River.
I'll give some deep thought to the time I spent on Hatchet Lake, Reindeer, Wollaskton, Diefenbaker and Tobin. Ah Tobin. Now there's a lake. Let me tell you a thing or two about Tobin. The giants swim in that lake. The legends swim in that lake. The dreams of many fisherman lead to that lake.
The other afternoon, my doorbell rang. It was Eldon Pigsley. Guess what? Yep, you're right. Eldon had a handful of color photos to show me of the walleyes he had caught recently up on Tobin Lake. Are you ready for this? Eldon's walleye weighed in at 14 pounds, 8 ounces. And that wasn't the biggest one. There are monsters in Tobin that will push 20 pounds.
He was fishing with six-pound test line. It was a cold, winterish-like fall day when Eldon caught his big walleye. Big walleyes on Tobin are a dime a dozen. I remember the famed In-Fisherman, Al Lindner, once said, "All walleyes weigh 10 pounds until you put them on the scale." However, most of Tobin's big ones seldom weigh less than 10 pounds.
Bald eagles return
The bald eagles have returned. Several have been seen regularly flying over the Boone River bridge on White Fox Road near the Webster City water treatment plant. Another eagle has been seen almost daily flying around the old Handi-Klasp facilities on West James Street.
Were you outdoors much last Saturday? Not only was there an eclipse but there was a full moon. The sky was clear as a bell both day and night and local residents rang my phone off the hook to report huge flocks of geese going over the Webster City area southbound. Beemer's Pond is elbow-to-elbow with Canada geese and mallard ducks.
And while many are casting gloom and doom over Iowa's iconic pheasant population which stands in the balance - whatever the balance is - I bring you a bit of good news. Don Doolittle cornered me the other evening while I was sipping away on a cup of McDonald's coffee. He'd just seen a flock of more than 50 (mostly roosters) ring-necked pheasants feeding in plowed ground near some CRP ground. That's the best news I've had in a long time. Now if we can just be fortunate to have a mild (not too wet) spring, perhaps the pheasant population will have a decent chance to bounce back.
From the southeast corner of Webster City comes a story from Roger Balsley. We were talking about the local songbird situation, and how few birds we've seen around the backyard bird feeders. Just the other day, Roger was out and about and observed a great blue heron slowly flying gracefully up the Boone River. Whoa, now. That bird should have migrated south months ago. Herons live on minnows and frogs neither of which are available now with the river frozen over. How that heron is finding enough food to survive is a good question. Me thinks it's in for a long, cold winter if it doesn't head south pronto.
And now have a good weekend.