Friday, April 12, 2013

Excerpt from Esther's Town

Fishermen caught pike, pickerel, bass, perch, and catfish in huge numbers, particularly in the Okoboji lakes and in Spirit Lake. In 1868 the Vindicator said that "one man with an ordinary pitchfork can secure a wagon-load of fish within a few hours." In 1870 Peter Larson caught a wagonful of fish at Okoboji. In addition to Okoboji, Spirit, and High Lakes, fish were caught plentifully in the west branch of the Des Moines River running through Estherville, the east fork of the Des Moines through Armstrong, and in some of the creeks.

But by the time father and I - during my teen years - were dipping our lines in the Des Moines River in search of walleyed pike and blue-channel catfish and rowing out hands sore probing the rushes and rock piles of Angler's Bay at Spirit Lake, we were grateful for modest catches. We had to employ more subtle lure than a pitchfork. Despite our fancy tackle and carefully selected bait, we were often "skunked," as my maternal grandfather described failure. Mother had to find substitute protein for the fish we planned to catch and she planned to fry.

Esther's Town, by Deemer Lee

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