If you hear the song I sing
You will understand (listen)
You hold the key to love and fear
All in your tremblin' hand
Just one key unlocks them both
It's there at your command
Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another right now. . .
- W. C. Powers, Jr.
This post is a continuation from my last post. At that point, I was just getting into Superior, WI, on my way to Hoyt Lakes, MN, for an "our generation" family reunion.
Wisconsin highway 35 took me into Superior, which had an awful lot of traffic lights. About halfways into Superior I turned right onto U.S. 2. About a mile after that came the lakeshore frontage and a left turn onto U.S. 53. Right on that corner I spotted the Richard I. Bong WW2 Heritage Center, so I stopped in there to see Marge, among other things. That's for a later blog-entry. I spent about an hour there and then moseyed back onto highway 53. From there, it was a straight shot up to Eveleth, MN. At Eveleth (Evlet in the native dialect) I took a right onto MN 37, then another right onto MN 135 just outside of Gilbert. That road runs to just outside of Aurora, then turns left. I went straight, into town, on county highway 100. In the middle of Aurora the road turns right, and at the end of town I made a left turn onto county 110. From there, it's a straight shot into Hoyt Lakes. The Fisherman's Point turn-off is on the right, just before you get into Hoyt.
The campground has a nice website here: http://www.hoytlakes.com/recreat/camping/campmain.htm
The first thing I did after I got there was hand out the sundry things that my mother had given me to bring with. Then, after saying "hi" to everybody who was there, I got my nephew's fishing pole out of the car. Boy, did he come a'running when he saw that. His name is Tristan, and he LOVES to fish. We couldn't go right away, however, as his tackle box was in my other sister's vehicle, and she hadn't arrived yet. So we made up for that with a snack to kill time.
My older sister, Suzy, has 2 kids - Christine and Tristan. My other sister, Jackie, has one, Shannon.
About the time we got done eating, Jackie arrived. That made any decisions about what to do later very easy. Tristan got his tackle box and nite crawlers ready, and the two of us set off down the path to find us a good fishing spot. It wasn't long before we were drowning worms. For most of the early evening hours, with a small break for supper, we were hanging together and having a very good time. Early on, we had found a nice sunfish nest and had a lot of action but no keeper fish, except for one of Tristan's moderate-sized pumpkinseeder. We fished until it was too dark to see either of our bobbers but really left because the mosquitoes got bad.
On the way back we stopped off at a nearby dock. There were a couple of older guys on the dock and 2 boats anchored about 25 yards out, just off to one side of the dock. The evening crappie run was on, and both boats and the guys on the dock were catching keeper crappies, one right after the other. I made a mental note that became productive later on, on Saturday night.
The sleeping plans were for Tristan and I to share one tent, Suzy and Christine another, and Jackie and Shannon and Jackie's boyfriend, Pete, to sleep in Jackie's pop-up camper. This arrangement worked fine. Before we went to bed, I hung out talking with my cousins and uncle and a few other people. From them, I learned that the morning crappie run was good at the "T" dock nearby, starting at about 5:30 a.m. and lasting about an hour. Tristan and I talked about that and decided to get each other up in time to hit the run.
Northeastern Minnesota is currently experiencing a serious drought. I talked to my cousin, Denise, and her mom, my Aunt Karen, (both live nearby) and they told me that there hadn't been any serious rain since early June. This is extrememly unusual for this area of the country and, as a result, most of the campgrounds and parks have burning bans. This meant no annual bonfire, or any other fire, for that matter (gas grills were OK for cooking but no charcoal fires - not even in the grilled firepits). Lucky for us, the nighttime temps only got as low as the low 50s F. Still, with the nighttime dew, it made for chilly sleeping. I didn't sleep very heavily on either Friday or Saturday night.
I don't wear a watch, and neither Tristan nor I had an alarm clock. Periodically during the night I would open the tent window and take a look outside. When I was able to percieve brightness in the east, I got Tristan up, figuring it's about 5:00 or so. We got dressed, and I got my fishing pole. Then we realized that Tristan's pole was in my sister's vehicle, which was locked. Ooops. We headed on to the "T" dock anyway, where there were about 4 people already fishing. About the time we got there the crappie started their morning run. Catching them right and left would be an understatement. The fishing was hot, and I could see Tristan was feeling kinda bad about his situation (my rod wasn't rigged for crappie so I couldn't offer it to him to use). After a little while my cousin Tim brought his son down to the dock. Tim put his jig in the water and inside of 2 seconds had a keeper fish. A few more fisherpeople joined in shortly thereafter, and, indeed, the run lasted about an hour before petering out. By that time, Tristan had had enough and went back to camp to see if anybody was up so he could get his fishing pole. He didn't get back until too late. Oh well, I thought, we'll have another go at it on Sunday.
After the morning fishing-fest, I went back to camp. Most everybody was up, and we ate breakfast. Then, more fishing. This lasted until about until 12:30 p.m., when I, of a sudden, ran out of steam. I took a nap until about 5:00 p.m. and then we all got together for a major smorgasbord of camp-cooking and breeze-shooting. Tristan pretty much fished all day, going between me (when I was awake) and Pete (who also likes to fish a lot) when I got a little tired or hungry or bored with fishing. :)
Towards dusk on Saturday, more than a few of us made our way out to the other dock for the evening crappie run. Christine started the show with a very nice 1 3/4 pound crappie, and Tristan caught 3 keepers. The guys in the 2 boats (my cousins and uncle and a few others) were there again, one boat hauling in 25 and the other 28 - all in about an hour's time. The boats then pulled in, and we all decided to call it a night and try the "T" dock in the morning. Tristan made sure his rod was readily available before he hit the rack.
Shortly after I went to bed, a few musicians started playing inside the campground shelter. It was nice music, not too loud for those who wanted to sleep, and they sounded pretty good. When they finished, we were left with the gaviidae sisters to serenade us for the rest of the night. Ahhhh. . . .the sounds of northeastern Minnesota.
Sunday morning started the same way as Saturday. When I got down to the "T" dock, there was nobody there, except for a beaver swimming around. Tristan got there a minute later, and I pointed it out to him. The beaver hung around us for about 1/2 hour. Tristan got his rig in the water and bingo bango bongo had a keeper crappie. Next thing we knew, he was catching them right and left. Before we knew it, he had a dozen keepers. By that time, both of my cousins, Tim and Brian, and thier sons, had joined us. Pretty much everybody caught keeper crappies before the run ended. These fish ran between 1 and 1 3/4 pounds. Again, a very hot fishing morning, only now Tristan was one happy camper. We labeled him the crappie slayer.
After that, we went back to camp and ate breakfast. There was a little bit more socializing and fun. My uncle, Russ, had this neat contraption that looked like a little wooden outhouse. He'd get one of the kids to open it's door and SNAP! a mousetrap was rigged on the inside which would make the whole thing fall apart. Hoo haa good fun for the kids, who would almost immediately think of somebody to get to come over and open it up, once it was re-rigged. Hey, I have that kind of family. :)
The fun ended a few hours later. My sisters had to go back to Hutchinson, MN, which was about as far from Hoyt Lakes as I lived. So we broke camp and rolled up the tents, picked everything up, and packed the vehicles. At about 11:30 a.m., I was on the road again, reversing my course back to Black River Falls, WI (with one noteable exception which will be detailed in my next blog). I sure had a good time this weekend, though. I think everybody did.
That having been written, here are some photos I took:
This is my sister Suzy (in the back) and her daughter Christine (back to camera) and my cousin Denise (on the right). The photo was taken just after I arrived at the campground.
This is the infamous "T" dock of the morning crappie run, taken on Saturday after the run ended.
Part of Saturday's catch. Yummy black crappies.
And a photo of Tristan with Sunday's catch of crappies.
Three photos of the campground area. Very, very nice place. It even has a lighted fish-cleaning station near one of the docks.
Yes, this one's mine. I officially hold the record for the smallest fish caught this weekend. This is a fingerling perch just a little bit bigger than a minnow. The cigarettes I smoke are longer. :) Needless to be said, he went back into the lake.
Labels: fishing, Minnesota, my life