The coastal storm last week was severe as it ran up the coastline from Florida to Maine. I talked with an acquaintance, Phyllis, who lives north of Boston (Merrimac) who said they’ve had worse storms and mentioned 1978 as one that’s on top of the list. She’s enjoys shovelling snow (to a point) and kept the walk clean by shovelling into the evening on Thursday to keep ahead of the storm. She left their driveway up to her husband, Harry, and his snowblower. The wind chill was a problem, she said and apparently enough for them to make reservations for a flight to their condo in Florida. I mentioned the Friday morning temperature was -17 degrees here and she felt they’re fortunate to be heading south. The storm photos on TV gave us midwesterners a bird’s eye view of how lucky we’ve been this year to have only some extremely cold weather, but very little snow. The tidal water, ice, and wind from the Atlantic did a number on anything in its way, including dwellings according to the Friday national news reports; that kind of makes me wonder why anyone would build a home so near the ocean. I suppose the same could hold true about Californians putting up homes that are subject to fires from the Santa Anna winds each year. Obviously, the view is one of the underlying factors on both coasts. I realize there isn’t a utopia, but suddenly the midwest seems more palatable. With that said we’ll probably get a couple of feet of snow before the annual Fishing Derby, which is Feb. 4rd on Maple Lake. * * * There’s a hoard of fish houses on Little Maple off County Road 37 this year, and more than usual for that early hot spot. The warm weekend had something to do with the influx of anglers who were after crappies and sunfish. Rock lake has been given a lot of attention, especially with the 11-12 inches of good ice. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many hole drilled on that lake. A lot of anglers must have received new augers, propane or battery operated, and enjoyed just drilling holes with their new toys. The lack of snow makes it easy to get around. I was on Rock late Saturday afternoon and fished in about 16 feet of water; my problem was pre-planning. When I got to the lake and wanted to check depths with the Vexillar I found out the battery was dead. That demoralized me and after drilling a couple of holes and not getting any bites I hung it up for another day. I was back in business Sunday with a new battery and chose a different, but familiar, spot on the same lake. I checked a few open holes and found one with some fish showing. It yielded one bite and some disinterested fish. I drilled a hole about five feet away and the Vexillar lit up like a Christmas tree. I was in about 17 feet of water and crappies showed up about 7 feet off the bottom. I was using a jig and wax worms and tried a Berkley minnow, but found out the waxies worked better. I wished I’d have stopped at H & H for some crappie minnows. The hole yielded some small crappies and a few keeper sunfish along with several perch. The bite slowed up about 4:30 p.m. Apparently the crappies were biting later with several anglers coming onto the lake while I was leaving. A resident on the lake said he’s seeing a lot of activity this year noting quite a few people are spending the night in their fish houses. . . Don Dittberner caught a limit of crappies from 11 to 14 inches over the weekend which was his good news. The bad news was his auger fell off onto the ice while he was intransit and banged it up quite severely, putting him out of commission until he can get some parts. . . Wright County’s duck slough, Pelican Lake, has been yielding keeper Northerns . . . It looks like our mild weather will hold until the Messenger is printed Wednesday when it turns to rain and snow and gets cold again. . . . Mike Muller, retired from the theatre business, left Friday for his condo in Boca Roton in Florida. It sounded like he was happy to get out of arctic Minnesota even though northern Florida was getting frost and in some places snow. He fishes about once a week on Lake Okeechobee, and said he’ll keep me informed if the crappies and sunfish are biting. . . * * * Vanna, Anna, and I were walking in Ney Park last week when the temps rose to around 0 degrees. We walked in the woodsy part to keep out of the wind. Whenever it is that cold the birds and animals seem to hunker down and seem non-existent. While in Monticello last week the Canadian geese and Trumpeter swans were coming off the Mississippi River to go out to feed on the west side of Hwy. 55, a few miles out of Monti. It was quite a site with wave after wave flying over the Cub parking lot. . . About two dozen lanterns will light the cross country ski trails at Ney Park near Maple Lake, Saturday, Jan. 14, for skiers who wanted to enjoy nature at night. This is a fun annual event and one I participated in several times, especially when there was more snow. The lanterns are placed around the Pond Loop Trail for about three hours, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. Afterwards skiers are invited to warm up at a fire or visit the indoor Nature Center for treats and snacks. It’s a good opportunity for families to enjoy skiing together. If the weatherman is correct the park could have some fresh snow for the event.