Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Rolling on the St. Croix, Mississippi

Wick's World


The normally laid-back week bordering boredom described in Garrison Keillor’s fictional Lake Wobegon shared only a few common traits (water and fishing) with the past few weeks we spent with our family and friends.

The small amount of fishing took place on our back yard pond-size Fitz Lake, yielding aquarium-sized bullheads. The only bass, crappies or fish of any decent size were caught daily by the several bald eagles that have set up a semi-permanent residence in our 100-year-old oak trees. They are an absolute pleasure to watch while polishing off a fish dinner. The largest of our eagle family dropped a huge white tail feather in our garden, evidently as a gift for exploiting our tiny non-motorized lake.

On the final day of our family vacation with our sons, we rented a large pontoon and went cruising the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers.

The friendly rental guy asked, “Have you ever driven a pontoon?”

“Sure,” I replied. “I’ve owned one for the past 20 years.”

“Have you ever had one that pulled two water skiers?” he said while pointing at the 150 horse motor.

Of course I hadn’t, but I didn’t remain speechless.

“Well, I should be able to get back in a hurry then,” I replied.

The greatest impression at the convergence of the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers was the contrast of the color of the waters. While the Mississippi River was its normal silt-filled murky brown, the St. Croix River appeared to be an almost Caribbean blue. Once I figured out what the color and symbols on the buoy markers stood for, I had little trouble navigating the 18-person pontoon.

Above the river the sky was dotted with soaring bald eagles and ospreys. On its shoreline stood egrets and herons. The placid waters in the bays were teeming with playful jumping fish. The numerous beaches and sandbars offered ample opportunity to dock and explore. Some of the backwaters reminded us of the musical pictures painted by Credence Clearwater Revival.

Several multi-million dollar mansions dotted the cliffs and bluffs on either side of the river. A few small towns offered boat docking for purchasing gasoline, beer and food, all of which were accessible from the boat.

It finally came time to return and dock the big vessel. I maneuvered the huge ferry-sized recreational water vehicle as near to the slip as possible and cut the engine. I assumed the two dock workers awaiting my arrival could simply grab our ropes and pull us in at the correct angle. What I didn’t take into account was the wind direction that can blow away the best of well laid intentions. By the time the water monster was entering the slip, we were turned at a 90-degree angle from where we needed to be. After much push and pull, shove and tow, tug and lug, we managed to dock without putting a dent in the $500 deposit sitting in the proprietor’s back pocket.

The tour operator looked at me and said, “I thought you said you knew how to drive a pontoon.”

“I drove it just fine," I replied. “I didn’t say I knew how to park it.”

Up to that point the proprietor and I had almost become friends. A $25 tip sealed the deal.

“You be sure and come back, Mr. Fisher; and tell your friends about us,” he said as we departed.

We have definitely put pontoon excursions down the Mississippi and up the St. Croix rivers on our to-do list for our never-ending circle of friends and family who seem to visit us just often enough.

This week will be dedicated for rest, relaxation and recovery.


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