Archived Story

Weeds will just have to wait

Published 4:59am Monday, August 12, 2013 Updated 7:06am Monday, August 12, 2013

It seems that every year, some sort of species invades our lake in Otter Tail County. One year, it was small northern pike. Less than a pound, at one time you could catch a dozen of them an hour. The theory was that they were eating all of the walleye fry that were stocked in the lake.

In other years, mosquitoes were the rage. Frogs have been known to highly populate our lake, and several years we have seen geese discover that our reedy lake with lots of shallow areas is a great spot to take a break — and leave little gifts on our lawn. Last year, snails — ranging in size from an inch to two inches across — were floating everywhere. Many a time my daughter and I collected them along the shore, and there were temptations to boil them and eat them with a garlic sauce. I can’t imagine they would taste good, though.

This year, the species that has proliferated our lake is of the plant variety — weeds. There are weeds everywhere, more than I have ever seen along our lakeshore 19 summers. What kind of weed they are, I don’t know. There are many kinds — the salady kind, the carpet kind, the sharp reedy kind, the kind that looks like the wispy rough you see at the British Open. They all party together.

Some weeds are good. When I went on a fishing trip to Lake Winnibigoshish a few years ago, we would cast into salad-like plants, where large northern pike would slam on our baits. That was a lot of fun.

Too many weeds, however, are not good.

I enjoy casting for bass off our dock. In the past, a relatively good weedless lure would do the trick. This summer, it’s useless. I’m not sure there’s a weedless bait out there that would get through these weeds.

Generally, my experience has been cast, pull off a ton of weeds, cast, another ton of weeds, cast again, more weeds, and then give up and put the rod back in the cabin.

They’re certainly not fun to swim in either. I like to swim laps between docks a couple times a week. The weeds requires me to swim several yards out from our dock, in a zone that anglers like to troll by. The last lap back to the dock requires feats of superhuman strength to break the grip of a thousand ropes.

Getting one’s watercraft — boat, pontoon, paddleboard, kayak, whatever — is also a chore. Every time we back the pontoon out, the weeds quickly freeze the propeller. While a quick shift into reverse sometimes does the trick, there are plenty of times when I’m hanging off the back pulling off the six-foot strands of weeds to free it up. We also have been using the space shuttle method — shutting down the motor and using momentum to get us those final yards to the lift.

Even our lake view is impaired.

Rather than focusing on the vistas and the sunset, we can’t help but look at the clumps of weeds clogging up our shoreline and think, “Man, I wish those things were gone.”

The solution requires either a lot of work or a lot of money. There’s the old-fashioned way — get out in the water, pull the weeds up, put them in a boat and haul them away.

Apparently, if you can get kids and dogs to consistently swim along the shore, that’ll keep them away as well. However, we have plenty of dogs and kids in our neck of the woods, and they’re still there.

There’s plenty of weed-removing businesses and contraptions out there as well — weed rollers that look like conveyor belts and special fans. But they’re not cheap.

So while there’s plenty of discussion about rolling up our sleeves and ridding our shoreline of weeds, the reality is, with only a few more good weekends left, we’re more likely just going to put up with the mess.

After all, we are supposed to be on vacation.


Joel Myhre is the Lakes Journal’s publisher. Email him at


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