My hotel in St. Paul was pretty amazing. This is what the lobby looked like:
|The lobby at my hotel, complete with palm trees and ducks!|
|Sure, they obviously look goofy, but I'm thinking of trading my car in for one of these bad boys. If you've never tried one, give it a whirl, you won't be disappointed!|
The conference center was conveniently located right next to the Mississippi so I decided to give up a little sleep and go fishing in the mornings from dawn until the conference started (about 8:00 or 9:00). It wasn't near as much time to fish as I wanted but it was certainly better than nothing, and almost a shoe-in for some new species! However I still needed a fishing license in order to put my master plan into action.
According to Google Maps there was a Gander Mountain just a few blocks away from the conference center so a buddy and I set off to check it out on our lunch break on the first day of the conference. Everything was going fine until we got to the address and it became immediately clear that Google Maps had blatantly lied to us! I called the number for the store and a helpful lady told us the address we found was for some corporate office or something, not at all helpful for my license needs. But she also said there was an actual Gander Mountain store nearby. We decided that "nearby" sounded close enough that we could jump in a taxi and make a quick trip out of it. We were wrong. Our quick taxi ride turned out to be much farther and cost me $34.... ONE WAY! I thought about giving up at that point, with a good portion of my fishing budget already gone. I've been accused of many things in my life but being a quitter was never one of them, so I got my license and a few other essentials, then we hopped back in the cab for another $34 ride.
The next morning I called another cab to take me from the hotel to my chosen fishing spot. This trip was a more reasonable $5, well worth the money because I didn't want to waste daylight on a 1/2 hour walk when I had such precious little time. I got out to the Harriet Island pier just as the sun was coming up and a little family of beavers was swimming around the houseboats moored there.
|Sunrise at Harriet Island, complete with beavers and all.|
|The emerald shiner... I'm pretty sure. I later discovered that there are several closely related species that look almost identical to this one, but it's nothing to loose sleep over.... right?|
|Species number 2 for the day: a cute little sauger!|
|The mystery fish turned out to be a silver redhorse, a type of sucker.|
|He was not a handsom fish.|
|That tiny mouth is why.|
|That particular tiny mouth belonged to a surprisingly beautiful shorthead redhorse.|
The next morning I was back at the butt-crack of dawn and drowning more worms. The Mississippi didn't disappoint and soon I had two additional new species.
|If this thing looks surprisingly similar to the other two redhorses from the day before, that's not your imagination, they can be very difficult to identify. I'm almost sure that I'm positive that I think this one is called a golden redhorse.|
On day three I got there before dawn, thinking that maybe that would help. It didn't. I caught several channel catfish and smallmouth bass that were all way too small to warrant a photograph (and you know it's tiny if I say it's too small for a picture, see this post or this post if you don't believe me).
With about a half hour of fishing time left I got a solid hit and the fish actually fought back for once. I gingerly nursed it in, being careful not to put too much pressure on the little hook. As it turned out I still had some fish mojo left after all; it was a drum! I'm not sure why I chose this as my target species for this trip. I had seen one before (caught by somebody else of course...) while fishing for perch in Lake Eerie, so I knew it was no glamor fish. I think I just wanted revenge for not catching one back then.
|The illusive (or not...) freshwater drum.|
|Species number 8 for the trip!|
The final tally for the trip was as follows:
4 piece travel rod - $80.00
Taxi ride to get license - $68.00
License, supplies, and bait - $34.00
+ Taxi rides to fishing spot and back to hotel - $30.00
Adding eight new species to the list - PRICELESS!