We had barely walked in the door after driving back to Minnesota from Arizona when Tom started packing again.
He put away the shorts, tee-shirts, and sunscreen from Arizona and started neatly rolling his jeans, long underwear, and fleece into little bundles. It was time for the first fishing trip of the season.
Word from “Up North” was that the ice had gone off Rainy River (the river that empties into Lake of the Woods from the east, between Ontario and Minnesota), and enthusiastic reports of ginormous walleye were filtering in.
“I thought fishing season didn’t open until May 15,” I noted politely—or maybe I whined.
“This is Rainy River,” he explained patiently. “There are different rules for different bodies of water.”
“Well, excuse me for my ignorance,” I sniffed. “But do you really want to get in a pickup truck pulling a boat and drive five hours to the Canadian border to go fishing when you’ve just spent three days in the car driving back from Arizona?” I tried not to sound judgmental.
He looked a little impatient. “But the ice is off the river,” he said firmly, as if that explained it.
While the rest of Minnesota doesn’t open its lake-fishing walleye season until May 15, fishermen can fish for walleye from March 1 until April 14 in the 70-mile-long Rainy River that empties into Lake of the Woods, the huge island-filled body of water that stretches between Ontario, Manitoba, and Minnesota.
I kept thinking Tom would change his mind. After all, his legs were still tan from Arizona. His thick Minnesota blood had thinned down to a watery consistency in the 70- and 80-degree Arizona sun. And it’s still cold up there in northern Minnesota. Even if the ice is off the Rainy River, Lake of the Woods itself is still mostly frozen. It takes a long time to thaw a 1,700 square mile cube of ice.
However, by last night, I knew Tom was serious. He went out to the local bait shop and bought a fishing license. He asked me set the alarm clock for 4:30 a.m. Two fishing rods leaned against the doorframe in the kitchen, ready to be loaded into his friend’s truck at 5 o’clock in the morning. His bag was packed. He had ‘the look’ in his eye.
He was going. Come hell or high water—or in this case, frozen water—he was headed to Rainy River to go fishing. He will come home with a bag of dirty laundry, a runny nose, cold feet—and maybe a couple of fish, if he’s lucky.
I’d invite you all for a walleye dinner, but just because Tom’s going fishing doesn’t automatically mean there will be fish.
So I will reset the old Wife Calculator to log in the first hours of the 2010 fishing season, and off we go again.