From the Editor’s File: Fishing under a double rainbow

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By Paul Rhodes, publisher and editor

We’ve had a couple of great vacations so far this year, but we really experienced something different last week as we traveled to Minnesota via Iowa.
If you’re driving to Minnesota’s north lake country, one of the best ways to get there from southcentral Kansas is to cut all the way across Iowa. Crow Wing Lake north of the Twin Cities in Minnesota was our final destination, so our trek across Iowa was perfectly logical.
Our stop in Iowa served two logical purposes: It was almost exactly halfway between Wichita and Brainerd, Minn., our final destination. And, we spent two days camped in Madison County, Iowa…home of the Bridges of Madison County.
Almost everyone remembers the Bridges of Madison County from the movie of the same name, staring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep. It featured most of the six historic covered bridges that remain today in and around Winterset, Iowa.
Winterset is an amazingly quaint village with full businesses surrounding a county courthouse in the town square. We could have spent all day visiting the shops in Winterset, but we had bridges to see. We settled for lunch at a great little restaurant, and a movie at the historic Iowa Theater that evening.
Our two nights in Madison County were also savored by our friends Bruce and Mary Chapman, who also brought their travel trailer, and Mike and Nora Shea, who tent camped for the weekend with their young son Christian. It was a bucket list kind of weekend.
On Sunday, Mike and Nora went back to Wichita, and the rest of us pushed on to Minnesota. Yes, it was a long drive. And yes, we certainly could have camped closer to home. But this was another bucket list expedition for everyone in our group except me.
I had been to Minnesota before, on family gatherings at cabin sites on Gull Lake. The fishing was always good, and the time on the water in lake country was always good.
At Crow Wing Lake we reserved a pontoon boat for two days, and started making fishing plans immediately upon arrival.
The funniest thing happened at the Walmart in Brainerd, Minn. As we were getting our fishing licenses, the guy at the counter shocked us all. “Hey, you’re still in our system,” he said with a laugh. That was from 20 years ago.
The next morning, we headed out onto Crown Wing Lake. We had everything we needed, but the fish weren’t biting.
That evening, as an unexpected storm rolled in, we headed back out onto the lake. In a moment, we were caught in a torrental downpour that could have been set to the tune of “Gilligan’s Island.”
We all worked together to get the anchor up and the boat back into shore. Soaked to the bone, we headed to our campers.
But Kim and I weren’t done for the night.
We put on dry clothes, made it to the dock, and set out again. As we headed across the lake, it stopped raining and immediately a double rainbow stretched from shore to shore. We found a spot off the lake’s major point, dropped anchor, and sat in awe as the lake turned into a figurative sheet of glass as the sun was setting.
Immediately, the bluegill started biting, and we enjoyed our first catches of the trip. The next morning, the bass were biting. Unfortunately, the bucket list walleye we had come for never struck our lines.
Still, I was determined to give Kim and our friends the walleye dinner we had hoped to devour in Minnesota. Our camp hosts recommended Morey’s Fish Market in nearby Baxter, just 15 minutes away.
I was smart and called ahead, and had Morey’s hold back four pounds of walleye fillets for us. We cooked up several fillets for dinner, along with some fresh shrimp, and the rest of the walleye went into our freezer for the trip back to Kansas.
I figure we’ll get three more meals out of the frozen walleye we brought home, and the total cost was about half of what the pontoon boat would have cost for another day. The whole thing made me smile.
And Kim and I will smile again as we serve up another round of walleye in a week or two.

Contributed photo/TSnews.com
The bridges of Madison County are a peaceful road adventure about six hours from Wichita.