By Adam Hjelm, Osakis, MN
“Many men go fishing all their lives without knowing it is not fish they are after.”
– Henry David Thoreau
A few weeks ago, one of my old college roommates came up for the weekend. Having grown apart a bit since college and also living two states away, we try to get together at least once a year. Most of the time is just spent hanging out and catching up, or it is spent reminiscing about the college days and what we can remember about them.
Him and I, we were an odd partnership in college to say the least. It appeared to be an unlikely pairing at first; him being a city kid that never ventured much outside of the big city, and me an outdoorsy kid that grew up on the lake. Thrown together during random room assignments and stuffed into a tiny dorm room far away from home and all we really had known.
We immediately hit it off, and for three years continued to be roommates. During that time, he always tried to understand what my attraction to the outdoors was, and especially to fishing. I would try to explain to him over and over again about the lure, the beauty, and especially the giant fish that we had lurking in central Minnesota. But he never could comprehend why I would work so hard to try to catch a dumb fish all the while fighting the weather and swarms of mosquitoes and deer flies. No matter how hard I tried to convince him, he just couldn’t understand the attraction.
Well, that weekend when he was here, I convinced him into buying a one-day fishing license and heading out on the lake with me. It was a struggle at first, but the 70-degree day helped my argument significantly. I really had no game plan other than to get him out on the lake and wing it. Trolling seemed like the best bet, after all how tough is it to just let some line out and hang onto the pole until a fish smacks it?
Luckily for me, the northerns were on a feeding frenzy that day. They were smashing anything trolled along the outside weed lines, and we just happened to get into some really nice fish. At first he seemed unimpressed, but with each northern I could see more and more of a smile appear on his face.
On our way back across the lake after fishing, I was lost in my own thoughts when I noticed a huge smile on my buddy’s face as he looked past me towards the back of the boat. I turned to look and not more than 30 yards behind us was a beautiful bald eagle. It was following right behind the boat as if there wasn’t a worry in the world. It followed us for more than half a mile, just gracefully gliding next to us the whole time so close sometimes you could see the details of its feathers. I was in amazement and couldn’t believe what we were witnessing.
It was later that night as we were sitting around the bonfire sipping some suds; my buddy grinned and said, “I get it. I always thought it was about catching fish, but it is so much more isn’t it?” I just handed him another beer and nodded.
Adam Hjelm writes a humor column, "Makin' Waves," for the Osakis Review.