Springing Forward

March 5, 2013 by  

By Nick Simonson

The weekend warm up had plenty of birds on the move as my wife and I drove up and down the major arteries of the Dakotas and Minnesota.  From eagles on high to roosters and their harems of hens alongside the highway, it seemed as if the changing of the calendar from February to March signaled a turning of the page in seasons as well.  Not to be outdone by the signs of spring, old man winter came whistling down from Canada as we sped away from Grand Forks, and the University of North Dakota, after watching my alma mater skate to a maddening 2-2 tie with Bemidji State.  The threat of 15 inches of snow from a super clipper was enough to motivate fellow fans of the green and white to get on the road before the weather hit.


Some of the species the author hopes to connect with again this spring include (top to bottom) sea trout in Florida, sturgeon on the Rainy River, and brown trout and walleyes from flows closer to home

It was the final non-outdoors weekend of the winter for me.  Everything else is booked solid with fishing and other outdoor-related events up until my annual Memorial Day weekend bass-a-thon.  After that, well, things are still partially planned up through July.  My wife says my scheduling of weekend activities so far in advance is always subject to spousal veto.  I have made this concession for any event which is not a high holy day (general opener, bass opener, bow opener, pheasant opener and deer firearm opener), or one which requires a reservation and down payment.
So there’s a lot of outdoors activity in the next few months which I am looking forward to, and it all starts next weekend.  In 2011, I gladly accepted the role of President in my chapter of Pheasants Forever and our annual banquet is Saturday.  While planning the event is a lot of work, it is a great deal of fun and a great way to make connections with area landowners concerned about conservation and supportive local businesses interested in helping area youth explore the outdoors.  We have a great team of twelve working together to bring together our big money maker which funds most of our conservation and mentoring events throughout the next year.  It’s quite a feeling to know we make a difference at the local level for area wildlife; and once it’s done, the satisfaction of pulling it all off is a reward all its own.
The following three weekends will be comprised of fishing trips going from a local bluegill and crappie lake to the warmth of the intercoastal waterway of western Florida for sea trout, snook and redfish.  The latter, being part of a family vacation, is easier to get by my wife, as she has miles of beaches to lounge on.  My brother-in-law and I, meanwhile, will patrol the blue shallows for fish of a different scale and learn more about inshore angling.
Upon my return, my lure making and fly tying course for area youth will start up and I’ll dish out some of my favorite patterns and tips for panfish and trout on the fly rod and light tackle.  The program will conclude with ten kids on the water chasing trout on opening day of Minnesota’s trout season, and I will follow suit the next two weekends until I make a return trip north.
If team “Urgin’ for Sturgeon” (comprised of me, my brother Ben Simonson and my friend Erik Eggert, both of Valley City, N.D.) can pull off a weekend like last year’s rookie trip to the Rainy River at the 2013 Sportsman’s Lodge Sturgeon Derby and avoid a sophomore slump, or even net just half the success, we’ll be in good shape.  Last year the three of us in our boat landed all 15 of the fish we hooked with two Paleolithic pigs taping out at over 50 inches including my brother landing a 57.5-inch fish.  While we can’t expect such success every year, we’ve got our fingers crossed that we can get close again and maybe, just maybe, break the 60-inch mark.
After that, it will be walleyes and bass and then we’re on the doorstep of summer, and at that point, it’s too far ahead to plan.  But as for now, each weekend activity has me in the thick of things.  Whether it is late season ice fishing, early season open water, or a trip to warm waters somewhere else, I hope the spring is as eventful for you…in our outdoors.


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