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Evening fishing excursion serves up hints that fall is at hand

We'd spent the afternoon staining the deck, two of us, but there still was time to squeeze in a couple of hours on the water before sunset's ever-earlier arrival.

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We'd spent the afternoon staining the deck, two of us, but there still was time to squeeze in a couple of hours on the water before sunset's ever-earlier arrival.

Two months ago, we would have had at least four hours of daylight. Now, we'd be lucky to get three hours in the boat.

A morning rain shower had threatened to squelch our deck-staining plans, but the weather by early afternoon took a turn for the perfect: Low 70s, clear sky and a light west breeze. There was plenty of heat in the sun, but not enough to make sloshing the cedar-colored stain across wood in dire need of staining uncomfortable.

Ideal, in other words, for completing this task that needed completing before the full onset of fall.

The signs of fall already were beginning to appear; faint traces of gold tinted some of the poplar trees in the yard, and the vines were starting to turn a brilliant shade of red.

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They're always the first to turn color, the vines.

There's something especially rewarding about a task such as staining the deck because the results of the work are so readily visible. In a matter of hours, grayish, weather-beaten wood had been transformed into a deck that once again appeared brand-new.

Finishing the job was a relief, and we took a few moments to stand back and admire our work. But beautiful days in late August are fleeting, so we scrambled to clean up and hit the boat ramp before too much daylight disappeared.

It was time to play.

The sun already was casting long shadows on the water when we tossed shallow-running crankbaits behind the boat and headed into the remaining afternoon.

Neither of us had fished here in several weeks, so we really didn't know what to expect. We knew what could happen, though, and that provided all the motivation we needed.

Oddly enough, even though the weather was nearly perfect, there wasn't another human in sight. But we saw more blue-winged teal than either of us had ever seen on this particular stretch of water.

In a matter of weeks, they'd be the first ducks to leave

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I'd expected a chilly evening, and so I threw a jacket into the truck before we left the yard. But in my haste to get in the boat and start fishing, I'd left it in the backseat.

A lot of good it did me there.

By early evening, it became readily apparent my long-sleeved T-shirt wasn't going to cut it. The fish were cooperating, but I still felt cold.

I wasn't the only one, so we reeled up our lines and made a high-speed retreat back to the boat landing as daylight began to fade.

I crossed my arms and hunched behind my life jacket as I crouched forward in my seat, trying to preserve every little bit of body heat I could muster.

Getting into the truck and cranking up the heater was a top priority, and we wasted no time loading the boat on the trailer back at the ramp. The heat inside the truck was a welcome relief.

There'd be no open windows to soak in the cool night air this evening.

By the time we got up the next morning, the temperature had dipped to 38 degrees. Fall was in the air, and if the thermometer was any indication, we'd gotten the deck stained just in time.

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Dokken reports on outdoors. Reach him at (701) 780-1148; (800) 477-6572, ext. 148; or send e-mail to bdokken@gfherald.com .

Related Topics: FISHING
Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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