By Chris Schultz Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Minn. February 14, 2000
Growing up on the Crow River
In the past weeks, I've covered some of the basics of the Crow River.
For all three forks, that includes where they start, where they end, how long they are, and how big their watersheds are. I've also covered the Crow River Organization of Waters (CROW), a newly formed joint powers organization aimed at supporting a healthy Crow River.
To those who are concerned, that information is important and sets a base for more to come.
However, no outdoor location, event, or endeavor means much or is worth much unless someone has developed a personal relationship with it and really cares about it.
My goal here is to help you develop a personal relationship with a tremendous outdoor resource that is very close to your home - the Crow River.
With that in mind and before we move on to other parts of the river, here is a small chunk of my history and relationship with the river.
Growing up on a dairy farm in Bergen Township near Lester Prairie, the South Fork of the Crow River was right in my backyard. Maybe not right in the backyard, but from the back door of the barn, the tree-lined banks of the river were just one field away - a short run with fishing pole in hand for a kid on a farm.
From as early as I can remember, the river was a part of my life and an exploration of nature.
With siblings and friends, there was fishing, playing in the mud, catching crayfish, prying open clams, floating on a tractor tire innertube, floating makeshift toy boats, and just plain old fun and exploring.
On the fishing end, when I was a kid, we caught a little of everything, but with worms always as bait, the fish of choice was most definitely bullhead.
My grandmother, Ida Pawelk, was a bullhead lover, and a day of fishing bullheads along with a good meal of them was tops in her book.
On one summer day of river fishing, my grandma, covered in a big hat and scarf to keep the bugs out, latched on to a big carp with the super duper long retractable cane pole that she fished with. When she tried pulling that carp up the bank her cane pole snapped in half and she ended up in the bushes behind her.
After the laughing ended, I remember my grandma trying to use my brand new Zebco 202. Even with help from me, she never quite figured it out.
My grandma took ill soon after that event, and that was the last time she ever went bullhead fishing with me.
When the fish weren't biting, or in most cases when patience was short, exploring the river and the woods that surrounded it was the event of choice. Digging though sandbars and overturning rocks never produced treasure, but it provided all kinds of other things. Arrowheads, bones, old keys, and one time a very old muzzleloader shotgun.
On days when nothing of interest was found, nature usually produced something - a sloughpumper, a big owl soaring over the water, ducks, deer, raccoons, clams, crayfish, or leeches.
For excitement, the river never let a curious kid down.
And although it could do better, it hasn't let an outdoor loving adult down either.
In next week's column, I'll tell a few more stories and let you know how the river helped develop my love of hunting and the outdoors.
- For those of you who are interested, my grandma's name was Ida Pawelk; her husband was Gus. Their daughter, Iris, is my mother.
- The new 2000 Minnesota Fishing Regulations Handbooks are out and available at area license vendors. Review and read the handbook before you head for your next fishing adventure.
- The walleye and northern pike fishing season in our area ends Feb. 20.
- Remember to buy your 2000 fishing license before March 1.
- The Winsted Sportsmen's Club will meet Tuesday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. at Tom's Corner Bar in Winsted. It is a special meeting for the club's annual he/she mixer. If enough members are not present and interest is not shown for the event, the event will be dropped.
- The Lester Prairie Sportsmen's Club will hold its annual father/son banquet Friday, March 17. The Raptor Center will be providing the entertainment with a show on birds of prey, including the bald eagle.
- The Crow River Organization of Waters will be holding a public input meeting in the Howard Lake community room above the public library Tuesday, Feb. 29 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. For more information on CROW, call Jennifer Lee at 320-693-7287, ext. 3.
- The 2000 Minnesota fishing opener is set for Saturday, May 13.