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The old wooden trestle bridge over the Shallow River was a magnet for fish hooks and lures. (Photo courtesy David Schotzko / Minnesota DNR)
The old wooden trestle bridge over the Shallow River was a magnet for fish hooks and lures. (Photo courtesy David Schotzko / Minnesota DNR)

Dock Talk: Governor's Fishing Opener bid will be delayed until 2012

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outdoors Park Rapids, 56470

Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

A gap exists where the old Heartland Trail "railroad trestle" once stood.

Although thousands and thousands of bikers have crossed the bridge over the years, the weathered wooden structure was also well known for the variety of fish swimming around the submerged supports.

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Every spring anglers would wander down the steps to the shoreline, casting their lines toward the manmade fish habitat.

The wooden bridge will be replaced by a steel frame supporting concrete decking for trail enthusiasts to cross over. The pylons underneath the bridge will allow larger boats to pass through, compared to the single, narrow channel beneath the original structure.

It would've been interesting to be a part of the demolition crew dismantling decades of history. I could only imagine how many tackle boxes could be filled with the hooks and lures whose sharp points embedded the wood, never to make it back to the anglers grasp.

A couple of friends and I who grew up in Nevis used to put our tackle boxes in backpacks and hold our fishing poles across the handlebars as we biked the couple miles to fish near the bridge.

We all bid farewell to the memories, history, and though rugged and dilapidating, beauty of an area icon.

In other news, I think I actually jinxed myself by writing a column about anglers accidentally catching loons a couple weeks ago. Last weekend Don Gytri and Duane Wallace joined me in the boat for a day of frigid fall fishing and wouldn't you know it, we caught not one, but two loons.

We released the birds to the best of our abilities and they both appeared unharmed after the altercations. Ironically one other bird was nearly landed as well, a seagull!

Don had been fighting a fish and when it breached the surface, the fish shook its head and threw both the hook and minnow free. However, the seagull just happened to be in the perfect position to snatch the minnow and hook before Don could even react. Fortunately the bird came free after only a few wing flaps.

The strange thing is that in all my 30 years of fishing, I've had a total of four loons hooked by people in my boat. Ironically, Don Gytri's been along to witness that unfortunate event on three of those occasions. I really think I need to stop taking him fishing!

Did you know...

-Smallmouth bass are catch and release only during fall. The season for harvesting smallmouth closed Sept. 14. You can still fish for smallmouth until Feb. 28, but you must immediately release them back into the lake.

-Muskie season closes on Dec. 1. You may not intentionally fish for muskies after that date until the 2010 muskie opener.

-The Park Rapids Chamber of Commerce and committee of local volunteers decided not to submit a formal application to host the 2011 Governor's Fishing Opener. The group felt the revitalization of Main Street would be complete and a bid for 2012 would be more appropriate.

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