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Out in it: Thanks prop, it was a nice run

 

July 3, 2020

Bret Baker

Bret Baker's old prop could tell his new one about the thousands of hours of spinning gently at trolling speed, propelling along weed beds and rock piles and across the open expanses of massive Leech Lake or Mille Lacs or the big lake they call Gitche Gumee.

A quick yank on the cotter pin, a spin of the wrench and she was loose. Ten years my Honda prop has been with me every second I've been on the water. Unceremoniously, I relinquished her to the bullpen, dropping her into the side compartment of the Lund. She clanked in disgust. If the old prop could talk, it would have a few tales to tell.

It would relive all the miles spinning aimlessly behind the trailer covering endless stretches of northern Minnesota. It would recall the hundreds of lakes and rivers that I leaned heavily on her to bring us deep onto in the wilderness and safely back home again.

I imagine it would tell you about the thousands of hours of spinning gently at trolling speed, propelling us along weed beds and rock piles and across the open expanses of massive Leech Lake or Mille Lacs or the big lake they call Gitche Gumee.

Perhaps it would laugh about the day we made figure eights on all 183 acres of Mabel Lake in Cass County, pulling the kids all day on the tube. She worked hard, twisting and turning to the delight of the young adventure seekers trailing behind, their arms and legs flailing with the perfect mixture of joy and fear.

It would cringe, reliving the day it banged and clunked its way up the St. Louis River channel after the floods of 2012 forever changed the underwater landscape. Her shiny corners, bent and twisted, tell the story of her ascent above the Highway 23 bridge as we began to relearn the river together.

The prop would recall countless nights tilted above the shallow shoreline of Camper's Island on Gunflint Lake. Relocated to the shadows and illuminated by the slight flicker of a fading campfire, its dusky grey aluminum reflecting the last moments of days well spent, laughter echoing off her, across the lake into the darkness beyond.

The aged prop might be saddened those childhood giggles have faded, and the kids have grown to young adults. They no longer beg to go tubing or yearn to sleep on the root- and rock-infused ground of Camper's Island.

The two of us have led parallel lives in the last decade: both of us constantly driving forward, head spinning, most at home on the water. Both of us are a little older now, with a few dings, but glancing mostly unscathed off obstacles above and below the surface. The old prop and I have made a great pair for the last 10 years. I can only hope my new shiny prop has some stories hidden deep in her new polished aluminum, yearning to spin free.

Bret Baker is an award-winning outdoors columnist and lifetime resident of Cloquet. Email him at [email protected] with fishing questions or story ideas.

 
 

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