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ABOUT FISHING: The Fourth of July and a rubber, gray mouse

During the Fourth of July, my family looked forward to spending quality time together each and every year at a place called the cabin.

The family cabin wasn't fancy and paled in luxury compared to those we see on the lakes today. The walls weren't insulated. In the interior, there were just the bare necessities for spending time "at the lake." It's on a lake with good fishing, private, and not over 60 minutes drive time to get there.

My dad thought Little Toad Lake in Becker County was a perfect fit for the family cabin. It was close to Detroit Lakes and Park Rapids on a lake loaded with walleyes and crappies. It was a place where family memories would be made and shared.

Plans for our trip to the lake always started weeks before, anticipation mounting with each passing day. At our home in Fargo, a place was set aside to put stuff in readiness, until it was time to finally pack into the car.

Arriving at the cabin, the usual chores had to be completed, including helping mom unload the overstuffed car, mowing the grass, eagerly looking forward to readying the boats and the times we intended to spend fishing.

A nice week of weather was expected — always nice, but not necessary.

Dad loved the lakes and all aspects being there. He couldn't wait to get there. Our cabin didn't have a TV. Instead, there was an AM radio for weather and area fishing reports, like Walters Fishing Report in Detroit Lakes, and Fuller's Fishing Report in Park Rapids.

A yellow Walter's area lakes map was thumb-tacked to the wall. I recall my dad standing next to the map, his special focus on lakes where the radio moderator reported good fishing, noting time of day, species of fish, and of course, what they were catching them on.

The cabin was on a lake with excellent fishing — no need to travel — but part of the Fourth of July week experience was to try lakes we had never been on before. Mom was always equally as excited that we were leaving her alone at the cabin. She was comfortable to stay back catching up on some overdue reading and house work.

Rainy days meant trips for groceries, and of course, more bait and tackle. I loved seeing the fish in the Walter's or Fuller's windows, so naturally, it was one of the first stops when in town. Dad and Mom allowed my brother and I to pick out a new lure to try. I recall one lure choice: a gray rubber mouse sold to me for its capabilities to catch huge bass. Anxious to get home and try it, the miles to the cabin could not click by fast enough. I had the perfect candidate to try the gray mouse on — a resident bass that spent summers under our dock. I named him Burton. Armed with rod and reel, the gray rubber mouse tied to it, I found Burton under the dock. Lowering it into the water, Burton seemed uninterested to my offering. I kept trying, trying and trying again. Unsuccessful, one gray mouse soon became a lure with a permanent home in my tackle box, never to be used again.

I thought a lot about Burton, special times at the family cabin and that gray rubber mouse this past week. Despite the rain and storms, I hope your Fourth of July week was everything you anticipated it to be.

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