At one time we at Bow Narrows Camp held a bait-harvesting licence and caught and sold minnows. It caused us so much aggravation that we eventually gave up the entire operation. Although I could tell tons of stories of why this was so, I thought instead I'd pass on this account that happened to another camp operator in the town of Red Lake, years ago.
Ken was awakened from a deep sleep by a loud pounding on the door to the lodge. His alarm clock told him it was 1 a.m. He had been asleep only two hours after working all evening repairing outboard motors for his guests to use the next day.
He ran to the door in his pajamas, expecting the worst -- a fire or a medical emergency. Three of his guests were waiting outside.
"Hey, Ken, good buddy! How about coming over to the cabin for a couple of beers?"
Ken's jaw dropped. "Uh, gee, no thanks guys. I really need to get back to sleep."
"We're you sleeping?" said one of the flannel-shirt-clad men, "Oh sorry about that. But since you're up now, we've got something to ask you. You see, we've been talking over at the cabin and we've pretty much figured out why we're not catching walleyes the way we wanted."
"OK, why's that?" said the yawning camp operator.
"It's those minnows you sell. They're mud minnows. You know why they're called mud minnows, Ken, my old buddy?"
He shook his head.
"Because they taste like mud!"
Ken cracked a smile. "How do you know? I mean, did you ever eat one?"
All three men were nodding their heads. "Crazy Charlie ate one. We weren't catching much of anything yesterday and Jim here bet Charlie -- the goofy guy has the rep for eating anything, for a price -- $10 if he ate a live minnow. Quick as thought he stuck his hand in the pail, came up with a minnie, stuck it in his mouth and crunched it up. Then stuck his hand out."
"Jim forked over the $10 and asked him 'How does something like that taste?'"
"Just like mud!" he says.
Ken was now mostly awake. "Actually, they're called rainbow daces, the minnows, I mean."
"Oh you can pretty them up with fancy names," said the fisherman. "But they taste like mud! Would you eat mud? Would you? Now here's the thing, Ken, my good old buddy, all minnows don't taste the same. Shiners are real good tasting!"
"Charlie?" asked Ken. Everybody nodded.
"They taste just like sardines, he says."
"Well, Charlie should know, I guess," said Ken.
Then the men laid out their plan. They asked Ken if he knew anyone in town who sold shiner minnows. One dealer did. Could he get them six dozen, super big ones, like 4-6 inches long? Maybe, said Ken.
"Now we're going to need these by six this morning," said the fisherman.
"You mean today? Like in -- he glanced at the wall clock -- in less than five hours?" asked the camp operator.
That's just what they meant. They would leave the dock at the first hint of dawn, get to the spot, anchor and be waiting for the walleye to move in at sunrise.
It would mean Ken would have to leave camp at 4:30 a.m., drive to town, roust the bait dealer out of bed at 5, get the minnows and drive back to camp to be at the dock by 6.
For some reason, he reluctantly agreed.
There was no point in going to bed now, only to get back up in a couple of hours, so he sat down at his desk in the lodge and answered some letters.
The bait dealer was none too happy to see Ken standing at his door at 5 a.m. It was still pitch black outside.
"What in the heck do you want?"
"I need six dozen large shiners."
"You woke me up at God-knows-what-hour for six dozen minnows?"
Twenty minutes later Ken was driving his old truck back to camp. He took the pails of minnows right down to the anglers cabin's dock. There was nobody there.
He glanced up at the cabin only to see the windows were dark.
Ken knocked loudly on the door but no one answered. Finally he stuck his head inside and called out.
"Hey, wake up! I've got your minnows!"
"Minnows?" someone finally answered back. "Who the hell wants minnows at this hour!"
Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog