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GENERATIONS: Doug Lewandowski: The depths of the fishing trip

They stand around gas pumps in small towns, usually male, a little long in the tooth, but occasionally there are younger guys around too, sucking on “Dews” and devouring bags of “Skittles” or “Doritos.”

Doug LewandowskiThe trucks they drive are pick-ups or SUVs. As one vehicle finishes refueling, another moves forward and takes its place at the pump. The men lean over trailer hookups to make sure the boats are secured and cup their hands over wheel hubs to check for overheated bearings. No, it’s not Hannibal heading for the Alps, just a bunch of Bemidji anglers headed north on a fishing trip.

Discussion begins during the “Super Bowl” game. Instead of watching wardrobe malfunctions or a Maroon Five guy’s tattoos ripple and shake in time with each guitar downstroke, last summer’s video of the fishing expedition is reviewed -- with comments. The women roll their eyes and head to the kitchen for more guacamole.

To accommodate sensitivities regarding colorful cussing about a catch, or heaven forbid a miss -- NBR, near boat release, a sanitized version of the video is displayed with expletives muted. The trip down memory lane gets adrenaline pumping and some discussion ensues about the time of the next excursion. The postcard and calendar from a Canadian fishing camp arrived right after Christmas, so the discussion is timely.

By mid-July, thoughts of a Northern expedition becomes a preoccupation. Rules are rarely altered after years of these excursions. How to share expenses is written in stone. A retired economics professor is the designated accountant.

Those that bring watercraft have more complicated responsibilities -- the boats need to work! One year, the very last day of the trip, a lower unit took a hit on a reef, someone’s depth finder kept showing 10,000 fish marching in neat little rows, and a SUV had a tire blowout.

Fishing spots have been given names over the years, too. No, “Donnie’s Bar” is not a local beer joint, but a reef extending from an island out into the middle of a lake. It got its name one night when a local stopped by to ask if we had seen Donnie, who at the time was running a “Merc” on his Lund boat. Clueless about Donnie or his whereabouts, nevertheless the name stuck.

To the uninformed, the gentlemen standing around gas pumps next to pickups, sport utility vehicles and boats, appear to be aimless. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are on a mission. Whether it falls into the impossible category always remains to be seen.

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