By Ben Gruber
It has been a busy week for the Gruber tribe. We commandeered my father’s fishing boat for a few days to take advantage of the beautiful weather we are having, and we have been taking advantage of it. We have all got the sunburn and mosquito bites to prove it too.
I do love my child dearly, and I must remind myself of it when she wakes us up at 4 in the morning because her bites itch too bad to sleep. Without doubt, it is worth it though.
Thursday night we managed to sneak out with the whole family after Momma Bear got done with work. Addy and I had the boat gassed up and hooked up to the truck and were ready to go, as was our eager black lab puppy named Belle. If you are questioning the sanity of taking a toddler and a puppy in a small fishing boat, you might be smarter than I.
We headed to the Big Eau Pleine Flowage with hopes of finding some crappies willing to be our dinner. There is a bait shop on our way on Highway C at Rangeline Road. I tell you this because it is darn near a secret bait shop. In a nondescript old building, with no signage save a live bait vending machine out front, there is a side door that leads down a few old steps to a basement store with a great selection of all manner of minnows and worms.
Word from the guys hanging out at the counter was the crappies were biting but not great. Try shallow was the advice. I did notice they had a copy of the Hub City Times open on the counter, so I could only assume they know what they are talking about.
The boat was launched, and 20 minutes after leaving the house we were motoring across the water. I have never fished this water when it was not frozen, so I was guessing. We tried a few shorelines with bobbers and minnows with no luck, and then we moved to some deeper water near the river channel. Again, no luck.
Belle behaved like an old pro in the boat, really impressive for a 6-month-old pup. Addy entertained herself playing with minnows and worms, and eventually Momma Bear managed to hook a small walleye. We pulled up and tried near some docks in shallow water and picked up another short walleye. We got to watch a magnificent sunset over calm water, brilliant shades of red, orange, and pink reflecting off the water. We headed home with no fish for dinner but no complaints otherwise.
The following day, my father was helping me with the never-ending remodeling project at the headquarters house of Bear Creek Ranch. Hard labor was done in the morning, and then Addy convinced us — obviously against our will — to take the boat back out for more fishing.
We headed to Lake Dexter this time. We grabbed some dinner from the Dexter Drive-In on our way, which I recommend.
Within a few minutes of putting the boat in, we were catching fish. Bluegills and crappies were willing on either minnows or worms. The size was not huge, but knowing how much my child loves to eat fish, we put 10 in the bucket. Addy caught most of them. Back to the Dexter Drive-In for ice cream this time, and home to clean fish.
The weather forecast is looking pretty good, so quit wishing and go fishing.
Ben Gruber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.