Mystery at Pleasant Lake

Pleasant Lake Mink
Pleasant Lake Mink

Written by Dave Cook

The weather forecasters of the night before were saying that perhaps this day would be the last really nice day for a while. What better place to have to work than Pleasant Lake?

And they were at least correct in the prediction of a sunny autumn day, high temps in the mid fifties with only a light breeze. Water on the lake was placid or slightly rippled depending on the wind speed of the moment. Over the weekend we had some pretty strong wind that has washed away the colorful leaves leaving the trees along the shores various shades of grey and brown except for the evergreens.

A buck or large doe left behind a clear footprint in the driveway. Probably went to the top of the rocky rise next to the house where it could overlook the entire lake at leisure. There remained unseen a ruffled grouse, but I recognized the drumming wings as it made good its escape.

The crew from the power company had arrived before me and were nearly finished. I had my work to do once they were gone. They switched the power from the old meter to the new and I had to take down the old equipment and a couple of other odd jobs. There at the lake, with the weather so fair the day was to be enjoyed so the pace was deliberate.

Still, I was there to work and a goal was set. Once met, I rummaged through my lunch sack and pulled out a dish of homemade apple crisp. My wife makes the best apple crisp ever and this day was made to enjoy it. I’ll eat lunch on the way home but for now me and the apple desert will find a comfortable seat and take in the view for awhile. I didn’t know yet that this was a day for a first.

Short bursts of rapid footsteps moved the mink along the shore. He had come from the last neighboring property or the State Preserve beyond that. Pausing often, poking here and there, under the dock and out the other end. He stopped long enough to sit upright on his haunches and show off his rich dark brown fur before disappearing under the concrete anchoring the partially submerged old wooden dock. A few ripples and air bubbles filtered through the planking gave away that he was rummaging under water out of sight. A small fish darted quickly to deeper, safer waters. When the mink re-emerged on shore he at first looked half his size with the fur slicked down and wet. But a few shakes and he was instantly his old self again.

He ambled down the shore line on his way and I eventually lost sight of him near the point marking the other end of the customers’ property and thought it was done, my first ever glimpse of a mink at home. But his return was near immediate and hastened as if something had spooked him. He ran back until reaching the concrete and wood hunting ground where he nosed around a bit more. Either lunch was eaten in private under the dock or the hunt was unsuccessful. The mink worked his way back to the other dock where the boat would be moored in season and slipped underneath. My desert was finished, there was a bit more work to do and I didn’t spot him again.

We had installed new entry doors awhile ago but the hinges matching the hardware arrived too late for installation then. I changed the front door hinges first, takes only a few minutes. The other door was on the lower level, leading out to the lake. I knew it was inevitable and pointless to resist. Quickly changing the hinges and testing the door operation afterward I set down the tools and took the few steps to the dock.

This was a moment when the water was without movement. Leaves and twigs had gathered in small groups and you could make out a light dust on the water’s surface. Certainly the work of the weekends’ wind I thought. There was a sharp contrast between the sunlit clear shallows and the shade of the house. A small fish was seen lazily swimming about.

I was spotting rings further out where the fish had surfaced, maybe snacking on bugs. Or would they be enjoying a sip of fresh air as we enjoy cool water?

Oh! What’s that? A sharp V shaped ripple was coming in from the deep water heading towards shore in my direction. A lunker I thought, speeding just below the surface, not near enough to break the water, nor deep enough to not disturb the surface. Maybe it is a large mouth or black bass or a pike. I was certain it was to be a predator at any rate and half expected to see a swarm of minnows first. The excitement rose as the ripple neared the clear shallow waters where I was certain to be treated to a glimpse of a majestic fish, a trophy fish if an angler were to hook and land it.

Finally it reaches the sunlit clear water and I scan expectantly only to see nothing. Nothing that is other than the ripple continuing, turning and running down the shore line before disappearing into the calm water. There was no fish in sight, large or small. Puzzled and confused, but no time for that. Here comes another. And to the same end. As I look further about I notice a few of them. As if a school of phantom fish swimming in various directions either towards or parallel with the shoreline.

This, I thought, must be what it feels like to be one of those on the fringe of society that “see things”. How can I explain this? No breeze to drive the wave on this calm morning. At any rate, how could the wind drive such a small precisely shaped ripple without affecting the waters around it? Or all of the other ripples traveling in different directions? Invisifish? Pleasant Ness Midget Monsters?

Best not to talk about it I’m sure. People will look at me like I’m “one of them “. I turn to resume the task at hand. The electric is connected to the fireplace and the ignition tested. It works, I expected no less. The drive home is filled with thoughts of the day. Seeing the mink was pretty cool but I’ll admit only to myself that I believe in Unidentified Fish Occurrences.

Dave Cook


  1. Again, cudos to my favorite contractors! The camp in the story is newly acquired by my husband and myself… a long neglected camp in a beautiful setting. Dave & Jon (you too, Scott) of Cook Contracting, LLC to the rescue with a great start on our “5 Year Plan” of remodel and improve. With their creativity and attention to detail, we don’t have to worry about the finished job… and since the camp is designed for enjoyment of nature, it is gratifying to read Dave’s stories. Thanks to the guys for their great work… and thanks to their spouses for the times they are home a bit late after a long drive home!

  2. There is a spring-fed lake in the BWCA, part of a glacial spur, surrounded by brooding dark pines. Its clear shallow water is an easy paddle and short, unmarked portage south of the Brule put-in. At sunrise the walleye action is bait-bouncing intense, season in and season out. It takes the sun a few hours to clear the surrounding hills and tall tree tops on summer mornings. When the first shafts of light appear, the walleye stop feeding and go deeper.
    Within seconds the inches deep shoreline waters come alive with those mysterious UFO ripples you write about. The ‘baitfish’, minnows and smaller, hiding from the feeding walleye take refuge in the shallow stemgrass along the shore line. The water depth and daylight adding to their security. When the walleye go down the northern pike begin a feeding frenzy, racing along the shallows, unseen streaks. We used an old fashioned fishviewer, made in our cabinetshop from marine ply and plexi the night before our fishing trip, and nearly tipped over the canoe more than once watching the life just below the surface.
    I liked your UFO theory much better. Life should have mystery…even the scaly varieties. FOR SALE: Slightly damp fishview, cheap. Gus


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