Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Minn.

Feb. 18, 2002

It wasn't Mexico

Included in this week's column in the paper are a couple of photos of Virgil Kegler of Lester Prairie on a recent fishing adventure for sail fish to Mexico.

Virgil has made the trip to Mexico for vacationing and fishing many times throughout the years, and although I have never fished with him on a sun drenched charter or in Mexico, I have on occasion wetted a line with him, and believe me, each time it's been an adventure.

It wasn't the Pacific ocean or sail fish. It was about 15 years ago and it was crappies through the ice on Lake Mary.

That year, in my live or die fishing youth, Lake Mary was hot for northern pike and evening crappies, and my dad's old 6 foot x 10 foot fish house with the massive oil burning stove got used extensively.

On a particular Saturday morning in January, I had nabbed a few small northern pike and watched two other anglers fishing with tip ups about 40 yards away from my house nab one dandy northern pike after another. They definitely had the hot spot, and although they did their best to be inconspicuous, the cat was out of the bag. Or, let's say, the fish was out of the hole. I knew the spot.

Well, like any young aggressive angler would do, the minute those guys left with their limit of northerns, myself and a buddie pushed my dad's house right on top of that honey hole and fished inside the warm house right through the holes they had drilled. Soon, we had a few dandy northern pike in our pails.

An hour later with a limit of northern pike and little thought about the two guys who found the hot spot, myself and my buddie headed home. In the evening, I would head back for the crappie bite.

Looking for a fishing partner in the evening, I gave Virgil a call. Soon, we were both on the lake, cleaning the holes, baiting hooks with crappie minnows, and of course, lighting the big oil burning stove for warmth.

As darkness took hold, the crappie action on the same northern hot spot kicked in, and so did the oil burning stove. As crappies came though the ice and time waged on, Virgil and I began to cough and rub burning eyes. With the fish biting, we paid little attention to the stove or the conditions in the fish house.

In time, with more fish, and a lung burning sickness, we realized the stove wasn't working right and we had been breathing in a heavy dose kerosene smoke and soot. The fish house door flew open. We were both coughing, hacking and covered with a film of black suit.

Fresh, cold air seemed like a life saver. In minutes the stove was off and we were packed up and on our way home to spend a long night of being very sick.

In the process, I never told Virgil how the fish house ended up on such a hot spot. I just told him it was a hot spot.

The next day I went back out to investigate, repair the stove and simply find out what went wrong with the big oil burner.

After a good investigation and cleaning of the house and stove, I lit the big oil burner and soon noticed the stove pipe was blocked. All the smoke was pouring back into the house instead of out the pipe.

Removal of the stove pipe, provided the evidence. A big paper bag had been shoved down the pipe.

The two anglers who had found that spot made me pay. Virgil, who cursed the big oil burner for many years after, also paid the price for ice fishing treachery.

After the the bag was removed, the fish house was pushed to another spot a good distance away.

The fishing episode of the dirty oil burning stove and fishing honey hole was over. Not a good story, but most certainly a dirty one.

Snowmobile training

Anyone interested in becoming certified to teach snowmobile training should contact John Entinger at (763) 658-4035 or Harvey Nowak at (320) 485-3738. Certification to teach is only a two-night class.

Outdoor notes

­ The fishing season for walleye and northern pike on our area lakes closed Sunday, Feb. 17.

­ Fish houses must be removed from lakes in our area by midnight Feb. 28.

­ 2001 - 2002 angling licenses expire Feb. 28. New 2002-03 angling licenses are required March 1.

­ Those who applied for a 2002 Minnesota spring turkey hunting license can go to the DNR's Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us to find out if their name was drawn to receive a permit.

­ The DNR may be cutting some of its information officers in the next few months. The DNR already struggles getting information out to the hunting and fishing public and does a poor job of getting information out to the non-hunting and non-fishing public. Cutting information officers will only make it worse.

To me, it's another example of our current administration and staff at the state level having almost no personal connection to Minnesota's great outdoors. It seems what isn't important at a personal level to them, shouldn't be important to us.

­ The Lester Prairie Sportsmen's Club will host its annual father/son-daughter banquet on Friday, March 22 at the Lester Prairie City Hall. The Zoo Mobile from the Minnesota Zoo will be on hand to educate and entertain those attending.

­ Be mobile and use light tackle for late ice panfish success.

­ Take a kid fishing, he or she will have fun and so will you.

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