Pedaling among piers: Fishing the Twin Cities metro by bike

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 28, 2013 - 12:29 PM

An urban fisherman enjoys easy access to public piers, and thoughtful conversation with fellow anglers, when venturing out by bike.

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At French Lake in Plymouth, Sean Hummel,19 cast on the pier hoping to hook some bass.

Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii • richard.tsong-taatarii@startribune.com,

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On a recent midday, with more sun than clouds, Sean Hummel reached back with his fishing rod and arched a cast over a lily-pad-laden backwater at French Regional Park in Plymouth.

Hummel’s fish-catching expectations were low. Maybe a bluegill would bite, or even a small bass. Whatever. He wasn’t looking for fish to eat. Kicked back on the park’s fishing pier, he and his pal, Nicholas Stryker, were immersed in the day’s warming vibe, with time on their hands and minnows on their hooks.

So it goes, day by day, among a sizable subset of anglers in a metropolitan area dotted with lakes and laced by rivers.

Some, like Hummel, 19, of St. Louis Park, and Stryker, 24, of Brooklyn Park, tool to various waters in their cars, fishing for no particular reason other than to pass the good time. Others are looking for dinner when they board MTC busses with timeworn rods and reels in their hands and a dozen worms in their pockets. Still others are veritable cultists who seek monster Mississippi walleyes, or gear junkies who prowl Minnetonka at night for freakishly outsized muskies.

Connecting many of these lakes and rivers, and unique among metropolitan areas, is a greater Twin Cities latticework of bike and walking trails that allow the hiking and pedaling angler a choice of multiple waters to fish in a single day, with a cardio workout thrown in for good measure.

Years ago, living in south Minneapolis, I often affixed a fishing rod to my vintage ­Schwinn before pointing it toward Lake Nokomis or Lake Calhoun or other nearby waters that bore the promise of a bobber dipping occasionally beneath the surface.

Hoping to reprise those happy times, the other day I strapped a couple of fishing rods to my bike, packed a handful of lures in the saddlebags along with a canister each of waxies and worms, and toted my newfound fish-seeking conveyance to Wirth Park in Minneapolis, where I offloaded it from my truck.

“Whattaya gonna do, ride that thing into the lake?’’ one kid cracked as I threw a leg over the bike’s seat.

Tempted in response to tick off the many benefits of adult supervision, I instead advised that I intended to fish Wirth Lake from the public pier, before pedaling the Luce Line Regional Trail to Medicine Lake and French Regional Park about 8 miles to the west, and fish there also.

My little adventure would involve not a single floatplane touching down on pristine Canadian waters flush with bulbous walleyes.

Nor would I deploy a metal-flaked boat half-sunken with electronic gizmos.

Yet angling nonetheless would transpire.

Ipso facto, fun.

Of fishing, Herbert Hoover said: “It is the great occasion when we may return to the fine simplicity of our forefathers.”

Or, as the equally philosophical Sean Hummel put it the other day after I arrived at French Park:

“Fishing,’’ he said, “is fishing.”

Fishing excursion by bike

Every day when the weather allows it, Curt Pantze walks the eight blocks to Wirth Lake from the retirement home where he lives.

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  • At French Lake in Plymouth, Dennis Anderson figured a way of rigging his bike so he could bring his tackle box and three rod and reels on his bike.

  • From the pier at Wirth Lake in Minneapolis, Curt Pantze, 63, hooked a bounty of bluegills.

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