My dad, Arvin Vander Plas, my nephew, Taylor Good, and I are showing off the three fish we caught last week while fishing on the Best Dam Fishing Float near La Crescent. None of the fish were very big, but it was fun to be out when the fish were biting!
My dad, Arvin Vander Plas, my nephew, Taylor Good, and I are showing off the three fish we caught last week while fishing on the Best Dam Fishing Float near La Crescent. None of the fish were very big, but it was fun to be out when the fish were biting!
Our summer visits by my sister's children have come to an end. My nephew, Taylor, returned home last Thursday and was the last of the three to come to Minnesota for their annual vacations with my parents. Even though they stay with Mom and Dad, I get to spend a great deal of time with them too, so I am a bit disappointed that they have all come and gone. It is just one more sign that summer is coming to an end.

Before sending Taylor home, Mom and Dad wanted to do something special with him during his final day here so decided to take him fishing on the Mississippi River. Looking at my work calendar and the weather forecast, I decided I could join them if I moved a few things around. I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to spend some time with Taylor on what was forecast to be such a beautiful day.

We took off for The Best Dam Fishing Float, where my father loves to fish. I love to go there because the owner picks us up on the dock in a pontoon and takes us out to the float and brings us back to the dock at the end of the day. While the shuttle provides us with only a short ride, I have to admit that's my favorite part. I urged Tom, the owner, to take the scenic route back to the dock after we had finished fishing, but he had more people to transport back before he could go home for the day, so he didn't even consider my request! Oh, well.

When we arrived on the float, the weather had yet to prove itself beautiful. It was cool and damp, with a light mist coming down. We set up our poles, grabbed our spots and cast out our lines.

It was a slow start, but after a few adjustments of bait and lures, we were soon catching bluegills as fast as we could get our lines back in the water.

Eventually, the sun came out and the day began to warm up. It never got hot, however, as there was a wonderful breeze coming off the river.

For awhile Taylor and I were in synch, catching fish at the same time. Sometimes mine were bigger, sometimes his were. I didn't care what I was catching - whether it was a "keeper" or one to throw back - as long as I was seeing some action.

At one point, Taylor, Dad and I were all pulling in fish and my mother was quietly staring at her pole, idly sitting nearby. I made her take a photo of the three of us with our fish since she seemed to have time on her hands. As you can see, from the photo below, none of the fish we caught were prize-winners, but it was still a fun thing to share.

The problem with catching a lot of fish, however, is that I don't like to bait my own hook or even take off the fish I catch. So, when I rely on Taylor and my dad, I have to wait my turn. Sometimes - I know it is hard to believe - they actually want to fish themselves and take care of their own bait and fish before mine!

Thankfully, Taylor was a pretty good sport about the whole thing and helped me keep my line in the water, complete with a wiggly worm on the hook. That doesn't mean, however, that he was totally polite about it. He gave me a good share of snide comments about my aversion to the slimy things and never passed up an opportunity to "accidentally" swing a fish or worm in front of my face!

I shared in my column last week about not finding enough time for my summer reading and I thought the idea of sitting on a fishing float with my book in one hand and a pole in another sounded like a wonderful way to spend the day. However, between the number of fish we were catching and the conversations I had with my family members, I only read about 10 pages. Again, I surely can't complain too much about that as I was having too much fun spending quality time with my nephew and parents.

During a few quiet times, Taylor and I enjoyed watching the turtles swimming near the shore and sunbathing on the rocks near the dam. A few came close enough for us to get a good look, floating on their backs and enjoying the sunshine just as we were.

We never really kept track of how many fish we caught through the day, but they were mainly bluegills with a few suckers, bass and one small sturgeon thrown in. Mom caught the sturgeon, which put up a good fight, but it still had room to grow, so it went back in the river. It sure was an ugly fish!

Dad and Taylor cleaned around 40 fish when they got home that night and I'm guessing we probably threw back about that many between the four of us. It was a good day for fishing and it was a great day to play hooky from work.

So the kids will soon be returning to school and it will be a few months before they can come and visit again, but I am so grateful for the times I was able to spend with them while they were here. I love being able to spend that time with them and I am thankful for the memories we make each time they are here.