Dimich Outdoors Article: “I’ve been to many a county fair”

“I’ve been to many a county fair”

 By Nik Dimich

Of the many Iron Range sayings I have heard over the years one of my favorites is, “I’ve been to many a county fair, but I’ve never seen a place like this.” The gist of the quip is although we might have seen many things there is always something new to see. Another saying I like is about when one of the early Range basketball teams like Hibbing, Gilbert, Buhl or Chisholm first went to state and walked into Williams Arena, a farm kid player exclaimed, “Wow, this place sure could hold a lot of hay!” Some say this is where Williams Arena became known as the “Barn” and its student section, the “Barnyard.”

For many of us, the middle of August is special. There are the county fairs, for sure. High school fall sports have begun and the sporting goods stores and sporting goods departments are now seas of camo and orange, with islands of bows and arrows and shotguns and shells, well, you get the idea.

Bear baiters are on the prowl for goodies and scents and anise and other secrets attractants, as baiting is allowed starting August 15th and the bear-hunting season opens September 1 for permit holders. Early season goose hunters are sorting through decoys and calls and shells and other various gizmos, garments and gear. Bow hunters are getting their trail cams ready and fine-tuning their shooting skills.

The days are getting shorter. We will lose nearly an hour and a half of daylight in August. The nights are cooler. Just the other night Hibbing recorded a 38-degree night. These are the days we start the mornings with a hoodie or jacket and start shedding by noon.

For fishing attire, jackets and shirts and sweatshirts and “t” shirts are fine, but what about pants? Sweats just don’t cut it, no pockets and you just plain look like you’re taking out the garbage. Shorts are too cold in the morning and pants too hot in the afternoon.

What to do? Actually, the answer lies in that famous pontificator himself, Mr. Phil Dunphy of “Modern Family.” Phil says you can take away any of his possessions, but don’t you dare take his “shants.” Yup, “shants,” those pants that have legs that zip off, leaving the shorts. Try ‘em, you’ll like ‘em. Moreover, and you might not believe this, but the saying, “Try ‘em, you’ll like ‘em” is actually the official saying of the “Cozy Dog Drive-In” on Route 66 and home to the famous, of course, “Cozy Dog,” a delicious hot dog on a stick that is sold nationwide at (according to its website), get this, “many county and state fairs.”

Each year, we who are fortunate to live in a four season climate get a bit of jump in our legs as fall, early fall anyway, approaches. There is something about spotting those first changing leaves, the cooler nights, cooler water temps and the phenomenon of a return to the shallows by most fish. There is also a bit of a mystery to appreciate as the panfish actually do the opposite, they leave the shallows and go deep to prepare for winter in their deeper haunts.

Like I said before, there is lots of prepping for the upcoming hunting seasons. When you add it all up and try to balance your time between the water and the woods, you will realize it is, like in football and other sports, time to develop an effective game plan.

Oh, you could try doing the “two minute drill” and try to get everything done at the last minute, but if you choose that plan, consider the number of times last season our Minnesota Vikings blew games in the last minutes and you just might want to get ready early and enjoy the preparation. Actually, sometimes the anticipation and preparation is better than the actual participation. Even though it’s not quite Christmas, make a list and check it more than twice.

But, don’t put that fishing boat away just yet. This is a great time to fish, especially for panfish. As the water cools, fish crappies on the edges of shoreline weeds with anything flashy. Cover lots of water and when you find a school, work it. Once the crappies have made the dash deep, look for the deeper pools and bays but don’t fish until your sonar features Christmas tree-like masses or layers. Then vertical jig using a variety of jigs and tips, like leeches, minnows and bits of crawlers.

Use a 1/16th or 1/8th ounce jig tipped and then "hover" over the located pods of fish with your electric motor. When you do, you'll be pleasantly surprised how effective slowly lifting your jig off the bottom up a foot or two and then dropping back down, pausing in the middle and waiting to feel a "doink" on the end of the rod, will result in a nice crappie. A light action "noodle" style rod will work best in these situations when fishing for crappies. Anchoring might work, but that big splash and thud down below tends to spook crappies. Added to this is crappies tend to move and you need to follow them.

For walleyes, start frequenting shallow shoreline structure and then sliding off the edges into deeper water. A live rig set up with a creek chub, crawler or a leech will catch the attention of feeding walleyes. Even a slip bobber set at the right depth will work wonders. When working shoreline weedlines, pulling spinners by trolling or drifting, if the wind is right, will give you your best speeds between 7 and 1.5 mph. Vary your colors, but hammered copper and gold seem to work best. Buy a bunch of different spinners and experiment. Use a bullet sinker and vary your weights according to the depth, lighter when shallow, heavier when deeper. If spinners don’t work get “cranky,” go with the crankbaits in the same areas.

Don't rule out trophy pike or walleyes at this time of year, either. From the "dog days" of summer to freeze-up, big fish feed heavily. Most importantly, however, as school nears, remember it is all about spending time on the water with family or friends and balancing that time as you start thinking about the hunting seasons.

As a side-note, a few columns ago I mentioned “ceviche,” a delicious fish recipe from Mexico, which features “cooking” the fish via the acidity of lime juice. You can google it, but the staples are boneless fish (perch, northerns, panfish, etc.), sweet peppers, green peppers, green onions, garlic cloves, cilantro, parsley, olive oil, etc.). One thing I forgot to mention is that freshwater fish need to be either boiled, then cooled or frozen at 4 degrees for a week in order to ensure possible parasites will be terminated. Trust me, it’s refreshingly delicious. The reason I mention this is my sister Kisha told me, “No cheviche for you, come back one year!” (“The Soup Nazi” episode from “Seinfeld”) if I didn’t print that.

Nik Dimich is a year round Grand Rapids, MN and Lake Winnie area fishing guide and outdoor communicator. To book a trip or media event please contact him at 218-259-8459 or at www.DimichOutdoors.com and “like” Dimich Outdoors or Nik and Becca’s Outdoor Promotions on Facebook.

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