by John P. Jungas
One other time A.J. and Nick and two others went back to Jorgenson's Resort again. I did not go along. It was the year that I took my family on a trip to Europe.
They arrived at the Jorgensons on a Sunday afternoon. Nick and A.J. did not want to change clothes and yet do a little casting from shore. A.J. stood on a floating dock and cast, while Nick went another 100 feet further. Nick had a new reel and was having trouble. He went over to A.J. and asked him to try his reel. Then just as Nick took A.J.'s line, he saw a small splash out on the water as if a minnow was breaking water. He made one cast right at that spot and then the fun started. Nick had a fish on the line. After fighting the fish for some time, he finally got him along the floating dock in about two feet of water. Just then the line snapped and the fish was free. They both jumped into the water and threw him on shore. It was a 25-pound northern. Whose fish was it? It was on A.J.'s line, but Nick had made the cast. Both got their Sunday suits all wet. Nick had it mounted. It was 51 inches long and it cost him $51. It is now gathering dust in Nick Hiebert's garage.
It seems that fishing has always been my pastime. I was looking for the time when I would go "up north" fishing. I also always enjoyed catching bullheads. I will always remember the time when I went fishing with Uncle Jake (Pankratz). We took our boat and went to Eagle Lake after supper one day. The bullheads were really biting so we didn't watch the time. When we finally quit and got home it was three-thirty in the morning. I wasn't married but had a girlfriend named Mildred in St. James. I was living at home above the present hardware store. When I got in the door, who do you suppose was there? Mildred! Was I surprised! She claimed that she was coming to Mt. Lake this day with friends and that she had told me so. So at 4 a.m. I took her back home to St. James. All this time she had been visiting with my mother. All turned out well, but I simply had forgotten about her coming.
John and Mildred
A.J., John Stoesz, Nick Hiebert and I went to Mippigon Lake in Canada. We had made a reservation with a guide to take us fishing for several days. We got there in the afternoon, loaded our fishing gear onto a large boat, the Josephine. It could sleep eight, nine with the guide. The next day was election day so we could not go until eight in the morning after our guide had voted. We really didn't get much sleep because it smelled so much like gasoline. We left after eight and drove all day. The lake seemed to be one hundred miles long--you know the fishing is always better on the other side. The Josephine had pulled two fishing boats behind us so for the next few days we would be on our own fishing. The guide never fished with us. He would clean the fish and make the meals. We would come in at noon and again at night. John Stoesz and A.J. would sleep in the frontbedroom while Nick and I had the back one. Both bedrooms were about eight steps down from upper deck. Nick had trouble hitting his head on the way down. Fishing was wonderful. Walleyes were from four to eleven pounds. One day after Nick had hit his head again, we drove the boat into a narrow river. Nick had such a headache that he lay down on the bottom of the boat while I caught the big ones. I felt sorry for him. We caught so many walleyes, but our guide said he could use them. The next day our guide moved us a bit farther to the pier of his friend. Here he unloaded a lot of those large fish into a large galvanized tub. The flies really seemed to go after them and I told him to cover them but he said it was O.K.; it was merely food for his friend's dogs.
Another time I hooked a huge northern. I played him for quite some time and when I thought he was ready to capture, I told Nick to club him behind his head. Instead of hitting him on his neck, he hit the line and knocked the bait out of his mouth. It was hard to lose a thirty-five pound fish.
Before our group started going to Rowan Lake for lake trout, we would fish Crow Lake which is near Nester Falls. At first we stayed at the Halverson Resort, but later we went a bit farther north to Bill Arche's place. Bill was a Negro and he was married to a white woman who was really a good cook. One year the lake trout would not bite. This was the year that John Stoesz, C.J. Baier, Nick and I went. C.J. Baier was very disappointed and so we hired a guide to take him to Lake of the Woods (only a few miles away) to catch northerns. He came back in the afternoon with his limit of hammer handles (real small northerns), but he was happy; he had had fun.
A.J. had an idea. Maybe we should get up at four in the morning and try it. Nick, A.J. and I agreed to try it. At four A.J. woke me and Nick and we got dressed. Nick looked out the window and saw a little snowy weather and cool. He said it was not fit for a dog to be out and went back to bed.
A.J. and I took the boat to a nearby island and threw out our lines. We each put out two but should have had only one. The trout were biting so fast that we lost a lot of strike. At eight o'clock (breakfast time) we came back to our cabin and docked our boat. Nick was up now and opened the door and saw us throwing fish on the dock. We had nine lake trout in that short time. He couldn't believe what he saw. He said, "Let's go fishing now." I told him, "No way. We're going to eat breakfast now." After breakfast we all went out again. It was the same old story--No Fish!
After fishing Crow Lake for quite a few years, we decided to make a change. We had heard a lot about Rowan Lake. In order to get to Rowan, one would have to drive to Nester Falls (Ontario, Canada), leave the car in a parking lot and fly about twenty minutes with a Bush Pilot on a float plane. The plane would land on the lake and slowly glide to a stop at a large floating dock. All of our fishing gear plus our clothing would then be unloaded on the dock and taken to our cabins. The accommodations were excellent and the food was tops. Air fare used to cost $11 round-trip per person and later when to over $100 round-trip. We could always count on Dr. Wiens, his brother Harry, A.J. Penner, Roger Lehman, G.R. Engeman, Mike Harder and myself on going. On other occasions Dr. Basinger from Windom, Will Klassen, Jim Marston, Nick Hiebert and Henry Pankratz made the trip.
One time when we were unloading the plane, Roger Lehman set a pail with a brand-new Mitchell reel in it down on the edge of the floating dock. Someone bumped the pail by mistake and the reel fell down into twenty feet of water and was never found.
One morning after having five lake trout on the stringer, Roger caught another. While putting this one on the stringer, the stringer slipped out of his hands and we could see it sink slowly to the bottom. We tried to retrieve it but to no avail.
One morning we were getting ready to go for breakfast. Since some were not ready yet, they told me to go and throw in a line off the dock. I thought fishing all morning, all afternoon and also in the evening was enough. Finally I looked in the boat and saw that my hook was still baited from the night before (we were using smelt for bait) so I went and made the cast and laid the rod down and started talking with Henry Pankratz. It didn't take long and my line started to move out. I told Henry about it and he too could see that the line was moving faster and faster. I grabbed the rod, set the hook and the fight was on. Roger Lehman came and we both got in the boat, pulled it away from the dock so the fish could be netted safely. A nice twelve-pound lake trout before breakfast!
We've had so many experiences fishing that I could go on and on telling about them. Like the guide we hired one year who had never been a guide on Rowan Lake. Mike Harder and I were on the shore with our lines all set out for trout. The guide thought that he too would put out a line so he drove the boat to deeper water, dropped his line and came towards shore. His line got tangled in the large outboard motor. He tilted the motor, reached over to unhook the line from the propeller, and went overboard when the motor tilted back. Needless to say he was all wet and cold. He got back to shore, started a fire to dry out. Mike even lent him his quilted jacket to warm up. We already had three trout on the stringer. We had to go to Trout Island where the other fellows were and bring the lunch to him as this was in our boat. After landing he asked if someone knew how to make the shore lunch; he would like to go in and change his clothes. He had put the three trout that were on the stringer out in the back part of the boat so they would stay alive in the deeper water. Roger Lehman offered to make the lunch so the guide took off, forgetting that the trout were still out near the motor. You can imagine the trout were all cut up by the motor propeller. Furthermore, Mike Harder never got his nice jacket back and still A.J. gave him a five-dollar tip for the morning's work.
In the earlier years Crow Lake was our favorite lake for lake trout. We met a group of seven people from northern Minnesota one year at the lake. We, A.J., John Stoesz, Baier and I, were shore fishing quite close by. No one was catching trout, so one of the other men came up with an idea. Each would ante in 25 cents put on a tackle box and the first one to catch a trout would get the loot. We did this and all went to work. I made one cast, reeled in slowly and caught the biggest trout I ever caught with that one cast, a 13 pounder. Needless to say, I got the money. Each would ante in again and so on. I caught eight trout that day. Others caught a few too, but for the day I was the big money winner.
One Sunday morning Nick Hiebert called me up and asked if I had read the Sunday paper. He told me of the slab croppies that were being caught in the Lake of the Woods and he thought that we should go. I told him that we would talk it over with A.J. Monday morning over coffee. We did just that and all three of us were on the way in the afternoon. We got to Halverson's Resort early in the morning and bought minnows from him. He is the one who had plowed snow for nine miles on Lake of the Woods so that we could drive to the spot where these large fish were caught. We were to get a receipt for the minnows, but he had run out of them. He told us that if the game warden would ask for the receipt, he would soon be there to verify our purchase. It was against the law to bring minnows in from the States. After the nine-mile drive on the lake, we came to a place that looked like a small town; many fish houses.
I chopped my hole first, then Nick and then A.J. By the time Nick had his done, I already had a two and one-half pound croppie. We fished in thirty feet of water and only a few inches from the bottom. That afternoon the game warden came and asked for our receipt of our minnows' purchase. We had none, but soon Halverson came and verified the sale. Five people in a large van out of Minneapolis already had five gunny sacks full of slab croppies on the roof of their car and were fishing for more. In two days the three of us had 75 croppies from two to two and one-half pounds each, so we were happy and headed for home.
One year a group from Mt. Lake decided to take off for a few days to go fishing and have a picnic. The Engemans, George Hiebert, myself, Liz and Wilma Harder drove in one car while Nick and Florence Hiebert, Harriot and Ray Dicks came in the Hieberts' trailer home. We drove to One Sided Lake just a few miles west of Osage, Minnesota. Osage is just a few miles west of Park Rapids. Nick and Ray didn't hold their tongue right and especially Ray had a hard time catching fish while George and I kept pulling in those pound blue gills. We even used grasshoppers for bait. In the evening we had a picnic meal outside of our cabins. By the way, we even got the girls to help us catch the grasshoppers we used for bait. It wasn't easy.
We tried to catch walleyes, but never caught one in One Sided Lake. I asked a young man at the Osage filling station where we could go to catch some. He told us and directed us to a small lake a little farther west of where we were staying. There were no boats to rent at this lake but he had an uncle who was a mail carrier who had a boat on the shore of this lake. He didn't think that his uncle would mind if we used it and put it back. We drove there and sure enough we found the boat lying on the shore with the oars underneath it. We put the boat in the water, hooked our motor to it and started trolling. George, Nick and I were in the boat. We trolled around the lake and got to a bunch of weeds. The walleyes bit like mad. I was using a yellow Mr. Twister and since George and Nick didn't have any, they used other baits. In the afternoon, with both George and Nick now supplied with yellow Mr. Twister baits, we went back and all were catching good eating-sized walleyes. I believe I caught at least thirty that day. We could only keep our limit though.
In talking to Art Buller from Butterfield one day, I told him about this lake. He owned a cabin not far from there. Sometime later I asked if he had ever gone to this lake and he said he had gone there five times. The first four times he had caught the limit, but not the fifth time too.
Going home, the Engemans and George sat in the back seat while Wilma and Liz sat in the front seat. The trip home seemed very short. We had a wonderful time.