Walleye Caper: Page 3

I know from past experience that you will accept this honorable job and perform admirably. You will be discreet when dealing with the news media and never reveal the source of your information unless, of course, you are subpoenaed by a Special Prosecutor. So, for your personal and private information, here are the details of, "Operation Walleye."

You will recall from our experience in Bimidji that ice fishing was then, and is now, a major tourist attraction. Minnesota relies heavily on fishing license fees and income from tourists for a significant portion of the funds needed to operate a retirement home for disabled and retired fishermen. The Minnesota Walleye Fishermen's Hall of Fame also benefits from the same funds. Recently, the Fishermen's Hall of Fame has been renamed the, "Walleye Fisher Persons Hall of Fame." This change was directed by the courts in order to satisfy a legal suit filed by politically correct zealots floating about in Minnesota's academic world. The fish, or course, could not care less which gender snags them. But perhaps some P.C. ichthyologist may think otherwise. This subject would certainly be worthy of a huge federal grant and provide several years study for an interested party.

You may also remember; you must if I do, the winter of 1959 was a severe, bitter cold time in Minnesota. (One of the coldest winters on record.) It was during the era when the national scare of the month was labeled, "global cooling." Today the climatology scare is called, "global warming," but is the threat today any more valid than the cooling threat of forty years ago? Maybe so--maybe not. What makes me suspect of the Weather Prognostications of the experts is that the time they were proclaiming "global cooling" warnings we dispatched aircraft and crews to conduct a perilous rescue mission in the Arctic Ocean. During that operation, U.S. personnel and scientific equipment were miraculously saved by our brave crews. The ice islands were melting and breaking up- and they had to be abandoned. So much for the experts.

It was during this awesome winter in Minnesota where we were training for future operations on the Greenland ice cap and in Antarctica that I was invited to a reception and dinner for state and local officials meeting in Bimdji. This affair and a chance discussions with state officials spawned the ideas of what developed into the operation given the code name, "Walleye."

During that pleasant repast two of my dining companions were the State Game Commissioner and the State Director of Tourism. These two Gentlemen repeatedly commented on the, "god-awful winter weather," and it's adverse impact on ice fishing and tourism. Tourists' Dollars understandably were not pouring into the State according to plans. Reportedly it was so bitter cold that the Walleyes buried themselves in the silt laden lake bottoms and refused to be seduced by the most alluring baits offered by ice fishermen/ persons.

After discussing weather conditions ad nausem, the Commissioner turned to me and said, "I am aware of your flight operations on our lakes, how is your training going?" "Very well," I replied, "the ice is plenty thick and the snow cover perfect." The Commissioner then turned to his right-hand dinner companion- the Tourist Director- engaged him in a brief conversation and redirected a question to me. He asked, "would you be able to do some of your training of Lake Redwing? We thought you might be able to stir up those comatose Walleyes by making a few landings on the lake." "That probably wouldn't achieve much," I replied. " You see, our pilots are experts, they make such smooth landings that the fish would probably mistake the surface sounds of the ski-equipped C-130 for a bed time lullaby and go back to sleep." "But could we talk about it after dinner?" asked the Commissioner. "Why, of course," I replied.

Following dinner, I met in a private room with the Comish, the Tourist Director and a new comer, an unnamed Professor from the University. The sole purpose of the meeting was to explore ways to stimulate the lethargic fish into their habitual role of satisfying demanding fishermen. The Commish solicited ideas from the ad hoc panel. The Tourist Director suggested selective dynamiting of the fish nesting areas. "Too risky," said the Commissioner. The professor suggested a three-year study of the topic. "Don't have time Professor, this is urgent," said the Comish with a hint of exasperation showing in his voice. The Comish suggested nothing as most politicians are wont to do.

When my opinion was solicited, I responded with a completely indefensible suggestion to the effect that perhaps we could create a powerful hydraulic action. For example, apply a force on the ice surface sufficient to eject the snoozing fish from their beds to the surface and expel them through the many large fishing holes in the ice.

When the idea was advanced the Commish and the Professor excused themselves with the explanation that they would consult with a hydraulics engineer at the Universtity. They asked the two remaining participants to wait until their return. To make our waiting more enjoyable they arranged for a bottle of Premier Schnapps and a lovely, young blond waitress to serve us.

Continued on the next page...

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