The Minnesota fishing opener was this past Saturday, and unlike some previous years the weather was lovely.  We headed north to our favorite fishing lake and found an abundance of blue –  the sky, and its reflection in the water surrounded us with this beautiful color of spring.  Uncharacteristically calm and warm, the boat created the only ripples in the water.  It was wonderful to soak in the warmth and the beauty of the day, while we caught our limit of large Northern pike.  Saturday became even more perfect as we also headed out on the lake Sunday morning, but this was a much different day.  The sky was filled with high clouds, and there was a serious wind from the east.  There was no still and calm, no quiet reflection in the water, but rather a heavy chop and even some whitecaps.  Sunday merely helped us appreciate even more that blue sky, blue lake day from 24 hours earlier.

Dusk Mille Lacs Lake_Staats 11673Climate change, global warming, el nino – for whatever reason, today had the promise of sunshine and temperatures in the 50’s – almost unheard of  for mid-November in Minnesota.  Last year at this time we had a layer of snow and highs near 30 degrees.  So when a day comes like today, it warrants savoring.  We drove north to Mille Lacs Lake and set out for some end of the season fishing.  On the south side of the lake we were protected from the wind that was blowing across the cooling lake.  Although we came up short for our fishing luck, we considered ourselves enormously fortunate for being able to enjoy a beautiful day on a big lake.  As we were pulling off the lake, the sun was starting to set and painting the sky with beautiful shades of blue and pink.  The bare trees, the blue water, and the rocks along the shore all seemed to be celebrating this unusual day for mid-November in Minnesota.

Sunset over Spirit Lake_10335 StaatsAs the temperature soared into the 90’s in the Twin Cities last Friday, we did what many Minnesotans do and headed “up north” for the weekend.  A small cabin at Whitewood Resort overlooking Spirit Lake was the perfect relief.  We spent the time keeping cool either by swimming in the lake or fishing.  The first night we were treated to a beautiful glowing sunset with the reflection slicing through the wild rice that is in this lake.  As I lay in bed that night I was lulled to sleep by the loons calling back and forth.  We caught our share of sunfish and crappies the next day, watched an eagle swoop down and get his fish from the lake, and our second night was highlighted by a view of the Northern Lights as we sat on the dock with our feet in the lake.  A few hours later, a storm rolled through with lightning and thunder and dropped the temperatures considerably.  This morning we wandered amongst the many lakes in Aitkin County then shared lunch with good friends we haven’t seen in a long time.  As we headed back to the cities we found ourselves refreshed and relaxed and thankful for a quick escape up north.

Storm clouds at sunset_10297 StaatsYesterday started with a gray cloud cover and comfortable temps.  As the day wore on, the sun broke through and the heat started to build.  Planning to take advantage of near-perfect fishing weather, we drove north about 50 miles to East Rush Lake.  We enjoyed a dinner in the boat between pulling in sunfish and crappies, and I was looking forward to the sunset.  Slowly, to the west, we could see storm clouds moving in, leaving a clear demarcation in the sky — blue sky white clouds and sunshine being taken over by dark gray and purple with white clouds developing within.  Our timing was perfect; we made our way across the lake to the boat landing, trailered the boat, and then watched the far shore as the lightning and rain moved across the lake.

Fall boating_StaatsThe calendar says the end of September, but we were treated to the glory of a summer’s day with temperatures n the 80’s and warm sunshine.  Knowing that these are gifts to take advantage of, we headed out for some fishing.  Not only were the skies beautiful, but the fall colors are starting to be evident.  The golds are showing and the greens are becoming much more faded and muted.  Even the fishing seemed to rise to the occasion of this glorious day – we got our share of sunfish and crappies.  I came home knowing that if this is the last time we are fishing for the year, at least we had a glorious finale on a late day in September.

Diamonds on the lake_StaatsAn early morning fishing trip was a no-brainer this morning.  The last few days have been clear, warm, and no humidity.  We left the house early enough that the air was still brisk from dropping into the 50’s overnight.  As we motored onto the lake I was reminded again of the beauty of the morning.  It was then I saw the diamonds sparkling on the lake — the sun’s reflection in the water and waves.  So many times I admire it, but this morning I decided to photograph it.  The random patterns and the twinkling stars shimmered across the water.  Those of you that have spent time on a lake or a river will recognize this, and I trust it will bring back wonderful memories.

Burns Lake sunset_StaatsWe’ve just returned from a most relaxing and refreshing vacation.  A mere four hours north, in the land of lakes and pines, is a sure spot to restore one’s spirit.  The Minnesota north woods were calling us, and we were not disappointed.  The weather was perfect with highs in the 70’s and lows in the 40’s.  I photographed six beautiful (and equally different) sunsets, one full moonrise, three peaceful sunrises, and many adventures in between.  We caught more than our share of bass, crappies, and sunfish.  We canoed over an aqua-marine lake, and hiked through the woods.  And during all of these we were accompanied by the sounds of the loons – a haunting yet wonderful call.  Without the distractions of television, radio, news, and city-life we quickly decompressed into a life of quiet and simple pleasures, relaxation, and the appreciation of the beauty and wonder of this area of Minnesota.