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Brian Fleck

Fish fry surprise

Walkin'

Benders Fishing Camp, epilogue:
What’s left to do after a week of near-perfect fishing?
Fry, baby, fry!
The key to good cooking, I long ago decided, is to start with really wholesome ingredients and then don’t mess it up.
At no time is this philosophy more important. There simply is nothing better than fillets from plate-sized blue gill caught in the still cool waters of North Minnesota in late spring. The meat is just so fresh, firm and sweet.

Two-ton hamburgers

Walkin'

Benders Fishing Camp, last day.
Limited out in blue gill and walleye, the only thing left for today is to try for northern and they aren’t biting.
I’d lament about the trip being all too short, but Bob doesn’t like lamenting in his boat, he’s afraid that it will ruin the carpeting. He does allow reflecting, however, so I spent the day pretty much doing just that.
In particular, I mused on how much fishing has changed just in my lifetime.

Benders fishing camp day 4

To mix things up a little, I asked to go out with Chuck instead of Bob for the morning, 5-7 a.m., fishing session.
In his mid-50s, Chuck designs and builds flow meters for a company in Chicago. He’s an all-around nice guy, someone who is very comfortable in his own skin. His spouse, Rosemary, comes to camp but she mostly stays shoreside reading or doing puzzles while her hubby fishes. You might say she’s a good-hearted woman in love with a good fishing man, who loves him despite of ways she doesn’t understand.

Perch jerking

Walkin'

Notes from Benders Fishing Camp, Day three:
Notably missing from our fishing trip this year is Terry, a cousin of the Bender family, and a sometime helper at the camp. He’s also an artist and all-around bohemian. His studio/home is just a few hundred yards down the road from the camp. He works in wood, mostly with a chainsaw, but also builds fine furniture.

On a bender

Walkin'

Notes from Bender’s Fishing Camp, Northern Minn.:
Day one:
What a difference a year makes! Last year we were a greeted by swarms of mosquitoes in the warm air; this year, cold put ice on the boat seats and nary a bug could be found. Old man Bender, who has been living here all 90 years of his life, said that he has yet to see two springs the same.

The adventures of Pearl

Walkin'

We almost put Pearl down recently.
Born into a cage at a puppy mill, the first time in her life she set foot on grass didn’t come until she was six months old. We let her off leash in our backyard hoping she’d bound about. Instead, she found a leafy cave under a bush by a wall, crawled in, curled up and shivered.
With a little TLC from Sabra, our friends Curt and Sue and me, she took a few tentative steps that afternoon. We played cards on the patio not far from her and eventually she dared a peek. From then until now her progress has been an eight-year slog.

Pole stories

Walkin'

I’ve been getting ready for my second annual fishing trip to northern Minnesota and the Bender’s fishing camp.
Been there a half-dozen times, but last year was so much fun I decided to go every year.

Ride with me

Walkin'

Sometimes I think this column should be called Bik’n instead of Walk’n as I do much more of the former and less of the latter each year. The change is brought on by physical problems, gout and sciatica to be specific. As I age, my attention span becomes shorter and biking more accurately reflects how my thoughts flit about to different topics.
Besides, I’ve started a new company, Orange Hat Bicycle Touring. I could kill two birds with one stone by telling you about upcoming rides like the one to see the Cedar Rapids Kernels the weekend of June 27 and 28.

Flagging memories

My earliest recollection of reverence for the flag goes back to my freshman year in high school. My grandfather, a WWI veteran, passed away and there was a family discussion of what to do with the flag that draped over his coffin. Typically, widows kept it, folded neatly into a triangle and encased in a box. Ever-practical Grandma Fleck, however, didn’t like the idea of something meant to be displayed for all to see sitting in a fancy box on a table in her apartment.

Facebook friends and foes

Walkin'

“Are you a socialist?” a Facebook friend asked me recently.
He’s very much a right wing, Limbaugh to Hannity to Fox, kind of guy. Not only does he hate liberals but he’s sure liberals, even the president, hates America.
To me there is no logic to this belief, and it makes me angry. I served four years in the Army; you can eat poison and die if you think I hate this country. And it’s as likely that Obama hates America as it is Steve Jobs hated computers.
“It just doesn’t track,” I want to shake them and yell.

The Aussie snake diet

walkin'

Sit down because I have something shocking to tell you about our recent trip to Australia: I lost my appetite.
I can hear you pleading, “say it isn’t so, Brian,” but it’s true, I simply wasn’t hungry in the land down under.

When will we learn?

Walkin'

Criminals in 18th century England were thought to be inherently defective. They needed to be separated from the law-abiding populace and there were two options: execution or exile. With the American victory in the Revolutionary War, convicts could no longer be sent across the Atlantic, so a new exile station was sought. The bush of Australia proved to be just the ticket. On our recent trip to Tasmania, we got to visit one of the first, largest and cruelest of these penal colonies opened on Botany Bay, on the island of Tasmania, in a place called Port Arthur.