As the year draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on my outdoors experiences of 2007. All in all, it was a great year, filled with lots of forays into the woods and waters of Minnesota and beyond. Here is a summary of the year’s great moments:
Ice fishing on Upper Red Lake
After going more than a decade without hitting the frozen water, I decided to give it a try in January. I’m glad I did. I took my Dad, Ray, and two oldest sons, Joe and Andy, to Upper Red Lake to spend several days in an ice-fishing shack. My very first fish was a beautiful 14-inch crappie, my biggest ever. Each of the boys also caught a big crappie each. Plus, we caught some nice walleyes and were able to take home our limit of two each. I’m going back to Upper Red Lake on New Year’s Day to try it again. I plan to write my monthly outdoors column about the trip. Stay tuned!
Spring turkey hunting
For the first time, I hunted wild turkeys in three states: Missouri, Wisconsin and Minnesota, in that order. I hunted in Missouri with Father Joe Classen of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He took me to his prime hunting spots, but the birds were quiet and elusive for three days. Still, it was a fun experience. Then, I came back home and hunted in Wisconsin, first with Joe and Andy and then with my friend Jim Rienhardt on land his family owns. Both hunts were successful. Andy shot a nice bird the first week in May, then I followed with another a week later. Needless to say, we’ll be back in Wisconsin this spring. I only hunted one day in Minnesota, this time with my brother, Paul. We had fun, but couldn’t pull a bird in close enough for a shot. We’ll both get another try at Minnesota birds this spring.
More walleye action on Upper Red
I went fishing twice in the summer on Upper Red and had fantastic action both times. In May, I had to go to Bemidji to take a photo to use on the cover of the 2008 Minnesota Catholic Directory. So, I took my wife, Julie, with me and we went to Upper Red after I got done with the photos. We fished from shore in the Tamarac River, which flows into Upper Red, and caught about 50 walleyes in about five hours and took home our limit of two each. Where else can you do that well fishing from shore? Then, in June, our whole family went back up to Upper Red so that I could write a story on the winner of The Catholic Spirit Kids’ Fishing Contest, Maddie Weathers of St. Elizabeth Seton in Hastings. She caught her first walleye ever and everybody caught lots of walleyes. It was a phenomenal trip and I plan on going back again this year. And, special thanks to West Wind Resort for donating the grand prize of two days and nights at the resort for Maddie and her family.
This was my best year ever for bass fishing, one of my all-time favorite outdoor activities. I hit the lakes very hard over the summer and had some nice fish to show for it. I equaled my mark for biggest bass ever with a 20-incher I caught on Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis in August. That followed a 19 1/2-incher I caught in July, also on Calhoun, which is proving to be my top lake for big bass. In all, I caught at least a half dozen bass that went 19 inches or longer, the highest single-season total of my fishing career. Can’t wait to hit the lakes again this summer!
Big Sky adventure
I bagged my first antelope and mule deer ever during a hunt near Great Falls, MT with my father-in-law, Bob Guditis, and my brother-in-law, Jerry Gray, and sister-in-law, Jessica Gray. We saw lots of animals in our October hunt and it looks like we’ll be going back next year, probably over Thanksgiving. That’s prime time for hunting deer and elk and I’m hoping to try for my first elk ever.
Fall walleye excursion
This year was the fourth annual fall walleye trip to Lake of the Woods with my friend Pete Wolney, a classmate of mine at Totino-Grace High School (1979). This was our best year ever for big fish. Pete caught a 28-inch walleye, plus a 25-incher, while I pulled in a 24 1/2-incher and a 24-incher. Pete has caught the biggest fish all four years, while I have caught the most all four years. I guess that’s a good balance, but I told Pete it’s my turn to catch a wall-hanger next year. Actually, I had a big one on this year, but it got off. That’ll give me something to think about ’til October comes.
I’m thankful for the many times I was able to enjoy the outdoors in 2007 with family and friends and I pray I will have many more opportunities in the coming year!