Making memories on Rainy Lake

Before there was the Noden Causeway, the highway ended at the Five-Mile dock and weekly my mother would have sandwiches ready and right after work my father, brother and I would be on the dock, having bought some minnows there.
The dock was exciting as it was the jumping off spot for barges and tugs delivering supplies to the north and south arms of the lake.
We fished all the way around the dock, often from the decks of barges.
Fishing was something that my father relished, and he introduced us to fishing at an early age.
Once or twice on Saturday in the summer and the three of us would walk to the lift bridge and fish from the piers.
We carried in a jug of “Kool-Aid,” three fishing rods, a tackle box and a backpack with sandwiches and jackets.
It always seemed like a long walk. If we became bored fishing, we would clamber about the rocks and watch the bridge go up and down as boats passed beneath and trains rumbled overhead.
I don’t remember about catching, but we must have. I only remember that my brother and I had my father alone for a period of time.
Coming back to the landing, someone had to carry the stringer of fish.
Our first family boat bought in 1960 was an 18-foot cedar Peterborough Admiral skiff.
It was powered by a 10 hp Johnson outboard that took us from the Sportsman’s Landing at Frog Creek out to Stanjikoming Bay.
After a couple of years, my father acquired a second 10 hp outboard that allowed us to travel all the way to Big Canoe River and to Noden’s Island in the south arm.
Most of our boating excursions focused around swimming and fishing.
You could only travel so far on a five-gallon “cruise a day”, but every trip was exciting.
The purchase of the cedar skiff changed everything. We didn’t fish more days, but it was always a family affair.
Our young sister would snuggle into the back with her special rod and often caught more fish.
The walleye were plentiful in Stanjikoming and I can remember being successful.
We even towed a smaller skiff up to Big Canoe and portaged it over to Mainville, camped and caught fish. It was remote fishing.
It was quite the adventure on that August long weekend as a huge wind and thunderstorm passed through on Saturday evening.
We remained dry, while everything was soaked.
I think about this and fishing with my sons. In a week, my brother-in-law and his two grown sons and my oldest son will be on Rainy Lake for a weekend of fishing and bonding.
It has been a tradition now for over 30 years. There is something special about being in a boat, alone with sons on some part of Rainy, casting a line or jigging and just talking and enjoying the moment.
When I think back, nothing has changed a great deal since being on the Five-Mile dock when I was seven or eight years old, enjoying the pleasure of being with my father and today fishing with my son, my nephews my brothers-in-law and my brother.
It remains a special time, one that we look forward to year after year.