Jim Bennett

Looking back and looking ahead is what we do this time of year. I’m keeping this positive because we all have to deal with the negatives that have rang a loud bell that is echoing around the world this very moment. With that said I’m heading out on the ice January 1 to fish with my brother, Dick. Social distancing is easy when you’re pursuing an outdoor life. I’ve got several lakes I try to fish each year. On some I seek sunfish, others chase crappies, some I pound pike or perch and others I hunt walleye. On some days it’s easy and other days its work.

A highlight from last year was purchasing a new used boat. The 18 foot Bluefin Sportsman that was modified from a fish and ski to a perfect wide open fishing boat. There were no electronics on it so I went out and purchased two new fish finders with both having side imaging and down scan. What a difference that made. I went from going fishing to going catching. It changed my success ratio by leaps and bounds and I have been a guide so I can speak from experience. I bought the units on sale after they came out with new units so I got a deal on last year’s items. The first one was a Humminbird Helix 7 Gen 2 after Gen 3 was released and the other was a Lowrance Hook 7xTS after the new version was released. That means I got both units for around half price. My wife loved that as much as she loved catching more fish!

To say I didn’t have the best fall hunting season would be an understatement especially after having great expectations. It all started when my shotgun took a dump and a couple friends and relatives loaned me shotguns. I struggled with the borrowed guns. My backs up guns are older classic guns that in today’s world of steel shot are useless. I made it to Iowa after pheasants early in the year but unusually warm temperatures pushing 80 and 50 mph gusty winds were hard on me and my dogs. 

Deer hunting was a bust. I went north to do some scouting walking up Deer Mountain from the east everything looked great. What I failed to notice was that the county had allowed major logging to done for several hundred acres to the west. Half of the woods were literally gone. I never saw a deer all season from any of my past successful stands.

But such is life. I bet many of you had similar things occur and many had the greatest years ever. Either way 2021 has arrived and it’s time to stop looking back and to start looking ahead. Make plans with friends and family. Take people out on the ice, in your boat or into the woods with your dog. Get out and camp, ride that bike and hike those trails. I just hit 70 and I’m looking at getting a new pair of cross country skis. What have you got planned? Happy New Year!


Jim Bennett is an outdoorsman who lives and worked in the St. Croix River Valley and can be reached at jamesbennett24@gmail.com

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