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Column - A memorable opener?

As of Wednesday afternoon, the forecast for tomorrow's fishing opener calls for partly cloudy skies and a high of 49 degrees.

Sunday sounds even better with highs of 62. That forecast should only enhance the anticipation for the boatloads of fishermen heading onto the Alexandria area lakes this weekend in search of their first big game fish of the year.

My excitement with fishing opener has fluctuated over the years. My family started spending every weekend at Wildridge Campground on Lobster Lake in 1994. I was 9 years old at the time and from then until I was about 14, opening day ranked right up there with deer hunting opener and the last day of school as my favorite days of the year.

I created a lot of memories in those five years that usually included me catching a lot of northerns with my dad and a buddy of choice who I brought from back home. I spent the majority of my first two years on Lobster trying to distinguish the difference between weeds on the end of my line and the muskie of a lifetime.

The chance to catch a muskie on Lobster always added to the anticipation. We never fished for them but would latch into one every so often while trolling for northerns. We caught two on opening weekend one year.

The second one provided a memory I will never forget. Brenton Johnson, a classmate of mine who I invited up to the lake, hooked into a 40-inch muskie. Before he could stop the fish from running, his reel got knocked loose from the rod. The rod shot down the line into the water before Brenton eventually landed the fish by holding the reel in one hand and reeling with the other.

Not even 45 degrees and a steady rain could keep us off the water the next year. It took my almost 85-year-old grandpa to convince us there would be better weekends before we decided to call it quits.

All my excitement for opening weekend seemed to change once I hit high school. Going to the lake with my parents every weekend was suddenly not as exciting as hanging out with friends around home. That, in addition to the fact that I am a lousy fisherman on my own, kept me off the lake for years.

Tomorrow will be the first time in a long time that I will be spending opening weekend fishing. I am heading north to Lake Vermillion where two friends of mine and I will spend three days in a cabin on Raspberry Island.

My anticipation is near the pre-2000 level but for a lot of different reasons. I used to think a day on the lake was only successful if we caught a limit. When I think back to past fishing openers, most of the memorable moments are because of the people I was with, not because of the number of fish we caught.

Most of my days spent on the lake last year started with me concentrating on learning how to fish and ended with me tucked away in a protected bay just joking around with a friend.

With this attitude, I am already guaranteed of a successful opener tomorrow.

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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