Posted 5/30/17 (Tue)
By Jack Dura
Farmer Staff Writer
At Grahams Island State Park, there exists a campsite long called “the California site” by my parents.
Overlooking a hayfield and along a wooded curve of the campground road, the site is Mom and Dad’s favorite. Mom plays her bagpipes in the field. Dad watches the sunsets after a day of walleye action on the lake. The bird dogs bask under a beaming sun.
Grahams Island on Devils Lake is one of the most constant traditions in our lives. Children grow and move away. School years fly by. Responsibilities, family events, weather, local, state and world news: All are unaffected by the unconquerable fact that Bob Dura’s boat will be floated and fishing on at least two vacations to Devils Lake in a year.
My memories are vivid.
We sought shelter in the local Wal-Mart parking lot in 1998 as a funnel cloud danced over Devils Lake, back in the days of “the old campground.”
Memorial Day weekend in 2003 brought three days of rain which filled a low spot in the campground, creating a water hole to swim the dogs.
Boisterous, obstreperous, drunk people clamored across from us during another long weekend at the island years ago.
Mom ruptured her Achilles tendon 12 years ago on a lonely day in camp, forcing evasive action from her children to roust her husband on the lake over marine radio.
And in 2010, two glutinous days in a campsite called “the mud hole,” given from the tendency of rain to soak into everything, forced us to higher ground.
Of course, years of watching my dad flick and fillet out our walleyes amidst rows of electric knives inspired a sense of pride I have for my father.
Until he barks about botching a net job.
The fishing is where it’s at on Devils Lake.
The golden highway. The Mauvais Flats. Holly Bay. Howard’s Point.
I won’t name strategies or times of day to keep in mind for these spots. Family secrets, ya know.
For years, an orange laundry bottle demarcated a park ranger’s lucky fishing spot in the lake’s standing timber.
A waterlogged horse stable’s roof was just visible through the deadwood for years.
And most bizarre of all, three random, twisted metal poles sticking up out of East Bay. Poseidon’s trident, perhaps?
Devils Lake’s wind is legendary. Of course, the lake’s name is tied to the story of Sioux warriors drowned while crossing the lake, killed in a storm by “mni waukan,” or bad spirits (erroneously translated as “devils”).
As a kid with motion sickness, I hated seeing whitecaps on the lake and bouncing around in the boat.
Pack some Dramamine, Mom.
Yet when the wind comes up on the Mauvais Flats, we’ll be there, under my father’s famed guidance.
“Get the net!”