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    When It's Really Important

    When It’s Really Important

    Wisconsin based cartoonist and author Doug Larson once wrote “If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles”. Fishing is always important. Always. Now, that’s not to say that its degree of importance isn’t a little more or less depending, but fishing is always important in one way, shape or form. I’ll admit that occasionally I may exaggerate a trip’s importance in order to get a kitchen pass from my lovely wife. Like many fisherman, my excuses for why the next fourteen hours of fishing are “important” have a tendency to run the gamut. In most cases, though, the reason we “really need” to fish is because we really want to fish. Regardless of whether it's a need or a want, it still matters to us in one way or another and thus it is important. Perhaps it isn't as important as cleaning the garage, being at a meeting or even in one case, picking your son up from school. But make no mistake, on some level of the matrix fishing is always important. However, occasionally there are times when going fishing really is the most important thing a person could or should be doing at that exact moment. Times when fishing means more than about anything in the world and its true importance is without question. Today, Black Hills Bites examines one such occasion.

     For an outdoors addicted person there seems to be no better work schedule than the 24-hour on and 48-hour off schedule that we have at the Fire Department. For myself and my two great friends, Levi Denton and Casey Morgan, it gives us ample opportunity to enjoy being out of doors. When you know what days you work for an entire year, it makes it easy to plan a trip here and there. Such is the case when Levi and Casey plan their annual week-long trip to Minnesota. The difference between Casey and Levi’s trip and most other fishing expeditions is theirs is truly and honestly important.

    In 2008 the Rapid City Fire Department renewed its commitment to help support the Muscular Dystrophy Association, or MDA, in the fight against neuromuscular disease. MDA supports over 550 families in South Dakota and millions more worldwide that are affected by one of over 40 diseases that fall under the term Muscular Dystrophy. One of the things MDA does is send kids age 6 to 17 that have a neuromuscular disease to camp that’s designed to focus on their ability and not their disability. It’s been called “the best week of the year” by many of its attendees.

    Each year, the Rapid City Fire Department holds a fundraiser for MDA known as Fill-the-Boot. Annually for the three days just before Memorial Day, members of the organization stand on street corners and parking lots to take donations from the community to support MDA. Each year the community supports the fundraiser in amazing fashion donating tens of thousands of dollars in three short days. The money raised helps fund essential services, research, and of course, camp.

    In 2011, just before our fourth year of the large scale, on the street Fill-the-Boot, Casey and Levi informed me they wanted to take their support of MDA one step further and go spend a week at MDA Camp Courage.  Camp Courage is located near the town of Maple Lake, Minnesota on the shores of Cedar Lake. Accessible docks allow the campers to fish for the many species of fish that inhabit the 780 acre lake. The kids primarily catch Bluegill, Perch, and a hybrid Sunfish although a Pike, Walleye or Largemouth Bass are also caught on occasion.

    The opportunity to focus on ability rather than disability is what Camp Courage is all about. Sure, there are other activities going on. There is hockey, softball, swimming, arts and crafts just to name a few. But the fishing is a big part for many of the kids at Camp Courage. This is where Casey and Levi become important. Each year they take their Kelly Days (personal days off scheduled in December of the previous year), vacation time, or even find stand-ins in order to go. The time they spend is their own time. Their job at camp is to be “the Fishing Guys”. “The Fishing Guys” spend hours and hours each day rigging fishing rods, baiting hooks, taking fish off of hooks and releasing them for children who, without Camp Courage and MDA, might not otherwise have the opportunity to enjoy that which we often take for granted. A week long fishing trip to Minnesota takes on a new level of importance. For Casey and Levi, these fishing trips are ones in which they don’t catch a single fish.

    In June, 40 campers from South and North Dakota attended Camp Courage and in five days caught and released over 400 fish. In order to make sure there was no shortage this year Casey and Levi arrived at camp with over $2,500 worth of rods, reels, tackle, and even prizes for attendees. A Rapid City businessman donated over $500 to outfit the kids. The rest was raised through the Fill-the-Boot event. Once again “the Fishing Guys” and our amazing community came through for the campers at Camp Courage.

     “It’s the most important thing I have ever done in my life”. Those were Casey’s words upon returning from his first trip to camp. If you stop and think about it for a second, that statement is pretty profound given that Casey’s professional business is to save lives. While camp has come and gone the smiles and excitement remain even months later. Two weeks ago, while in Sioux Falls for the MDA Show of Strength, I spent time with more than one young person that was grateful for Levi and Casey. The excitement and joy that they showed talking about their week at camp highlighted just how important it is. And it’s not bad for a week long fishing trip to Minnesota, either.



    Fishing Report 

    Fall is finally in the air. I love this time of year because the water temp cools down, the bite heats up and many anglers put their fishing rods down in favor of a rifle, shotgun, or bow making fishing pressure a little lighter.

    Last week the Crappie bite turned on in several different places. Angostura near the docks and tires has been good for what has been reported to be very good sized Crappies. Some nice Crappie have been caught at Stockade out of boats near the dam. In both cases they have been caught on a slip bobber with minnow anywhere between 15-20 feet of water.

    Also, if you’re into floating, I personally caught several nice Crappie fly fishing with white poppers. The moss and cattails around that particular pond make a float tube or small boat of some kind almost a necessity. Focus around the weed lines near deeper water.

    Finally, I fished Sheridan Lake near the Marina buoys late last week. Perch are hitting on jig tipped with night crawler. They seem to prefer bright colors (orange, chartreuse, pink) and were close to the bottom. The same presentation one would use for ice fishing was what worked for me. I let the jig hit bottom, stirred it up a bit, then vertical jigged until I got a bite.

    Enjoy this cooler weather and best of luck. Remember to share any reports you may have in the comment box located below. Thanks for reading and until next time, Fish On!

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