As small lakes begin to freeze, with larger bodies of water soon to follow, anglers are preparing for "tween" time.
No, this isn't a reference to kids who are preadolescent and between middle childhood and adolesence but rather the time 'tween open water fishing and ice fishing.
For some anglers, the period proves very difficult while others sneak in one last, chilly open water trip.
However, open water is hardly what eager iceaholics desire.
This past week an acquaintence of mine posted a photo online of a nice walleye caught while ice fishing on November 14.
Obviously that fish wasn't caught from any lake within even a few hours of Park Rapids. The caption stated that people should be careful if going ice fishing right now.
These two anglers may have been able to claim that they were some of the first anglers in the nation to fish through the ice this season, but they also earn two thumbs down and a frown. Though they made it out on the ice and back again, sharing photo evidence of a nice fish, they unknowingly encourage other anglers to replicate the careless act.
It will be fabulous when we can once again walk on water, but now is not the time to ice fish. Or ice skate on the lakes. Or walk on the lakes.
That thin sheet of ice on our waters isn't strong enough to support anything yet, so be sure to educate your kids about the dangers of thin ice and keep an eye on your pets at all times during the "tween" period.
Ironically, thin ice is how our family got a new pet.
A year ago, almost to the day, a dog was running across Duck Lake on less than an inch of ice. A concerned lake homeowner saw the animal and continuously called for the young female springer/lab mix until she finally trotted to the shoreline.
The dog didn't have a collar so the rescuer did the right thing; she took her to every house around the lake and slightly beyond, diligently trying to find the dog's owner. But nobody had ever seen the animal before.
She eventually arrived at Headwaters Humane Society. A few days later, my wife brought our enormous black lab Angus to the Humane Society for some socialization since his canine companion had sadly succumbed to a tick-born illness several weeks earlier.
Angus was somewhat aggressive with many of the dogs at the Humane Society, but had a noticeable affinity for one tail-wagger.
"Her name is Shirley," said the woman behind the counter. "And for $25 you can take her for a two week 'test drive.'"
Two days later we had already made our decision. But instead of paying the adoption fee, we made a unique donation in exchange; an upright piano. "But you'll have to pick it up," I said. They did.
We've now changed the dog's name to "Surely" because she was surely meant to be in our family.