Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Gone fishin' instead of just a wishin'

Old Trunks question today is: Did Knute fish the fresh waters of Norway for those 40 different species of fish? Did he catch perch and pike and bring it home for breakfast? It is known there are thousands of lakes in Norway, yet it does not say 10,000 like Minnesota advertises.

Where did Grandpa Benhard fish? In looking at the map of New Solum Township, Marshall County, Minnesota, we are not seeing any of those 10K lakes of Minnesota.

We know Benhard and his father, Knute as well as Andrew Opseth and his family all ate lutefisk, which is dried cod packed in salt and re hydrated in water and baked, then served with butter. Another question is where did they get it?

Brine cod would be easy to ship, there was no spoilage. We may assume it was shipped in by rail to St. Hilaire and later even into Rosewood.

Daddy had a boat, even when I was little. We lived on Oakland Park Road, the boat sat between our house and Barzen's. It was white and had a ribbed bottom; it was wooden. Memories of being in the boat are few. One time my dad, his friend, Sam Jashaw, and I were fishing and Sam caught a huge fish. He had it on the bottom of the boat and he was sitting on it as it flopped around. I remember being told to get out of the way. It most likely was a pike although it may have been a muskie.

Another time, the family went to Lake of the Woods. The men fished and the women stayed on shore. I remember a fire in a grill going and daddy cleaning the fish and cut his hand. Greg and I spent most of our time walking in the woods.

Do you know where Washkish is? On goes straight east to the Lower Red Lake, follow the lake until one gets to Kelliher, then travel north about 20 minutes to Washkish which is on the east side of Upper Red Lake. Perhaps we rented a boat and motor.

The last time I was in Washkish was about 16. Daddy had a bus for hunting. It was a 'camp' out like trip. Mother spent the night with a can of 6-12 repellent attempting to kill one mosquito which had taken up residence in the bus.

It was fashionable to cut the sleeves off sweatshirts at the elbow and where a long sleeve blouse under it. I was standing on the bank which was about six foot high fishing. I caught something heavy! I managed to get it to the sandy water line before. I was an ugly looking thing and it wasn't going to be me taking it off the hook.

I hollered and hollered at daddy to come and help. He said it was a Sheephead. He said it had rocks in its head. It is also called a Freshwater Drum. Let's talk about that.

The freshwater drum is known for the rumbling and grunting sounds the males make to attract mates. It is a large, round-profiled, silver humpbacked fish. The female lays her eggs when the water reaches a temperature suitable for survival. The eggs float, that is how they get everywhere!

What about the rocks in their heads? Freshwater drum have particularly large otoliths, stonelike objects found in the ear of many animals. The otoliths help the drum to sense when it is oriented vertically in water too cloudy to see clearly. These otoliths, which can be more than one inch in diameter, have been used by humans for currency, jewelry, and good luck charms.

Maybe I should request a otolith for Christmas so I would have yet another good luck charm on my lucky fishing hat!

WARNING: The rest of September will be about fishing!


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