Last weekend I had the opportunity to join my brothers and sisters along with my mom and other Ward family members for a family reunion. The reunion took place in my hometown of Bryant, South Dakota which is located in the eastern part of the state 40 miles southwest of Watertown. The wording on t-shirts that we were instructed to buy and wear once we arrived, pretty much sums up my family and the weekend activities. They had imprinted on them “It’s a Ward Thing, You won’t understand”.
The reunion included a variety of activities like golf, shooting bow, and releasing some pheasants that my brother Dan raises every year on the family farm land. We even were able to fit in a cemetery service for Uncle Mike from Michigan who passed away in February. His wife Aunt Carolyn, who arrived in Bryant last week for the service, had sent Mike’s cremated remains by U S Mail a couple of weeks earlier to Dan so that he could be buried in the Bryant Catholic Cemetery, which is located just a half mile from the house that I was raised in with my 6 brothers and sisters.
Once the service was over, everyone that attended headed to Wards Bar and Grill to catch up and re live the good old days. The bar and grill is located in the same building that also is home to a tackle shop that according to my bother Dan sells the only live minnows for miles around. Some of the family members also stayed in Wards Motel-3, also in the same building, where the marketing slogan is they leave a half a light on for you.
Amazingly, with all the family fun activities taking place, I was able to get some walleye fishing in with Dan, youngest brother Richie and his son Alex, who came all the way from Virginia to attend the reunion. We headed to a body of water which is. interestingly enough, named Dry Lake. The locals must have liked the name, because they named a smaller lake, located next to it Dry Lake 2. The creation of the two lakes was the result of flooding over the years, so South Dakota Fish and Game put in a boat ramp and planted walleyes. The good fishing at Dry Lake is obviously known throughout the region if out of state license plates from Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska are any indication of its popularity.
It is my understanding that there are some times of the year that the wait to launch your boat can sometimes be more than an hour. The day we went, we were in line for only 30 minutes. The lake itself is only 12 feet deep at its deepest point and runs mostly 10 feet except where the old highway used to be. That stretch offers the only structure that I could see with depths ranging from 7 to 12 feet, thanks to the ditches that ran along the highway. The afternoon fishing trip only produced 3 walleyes before we had to get off the lake because of a thunderstorm. It was a great way to wind up a fun weekend, and, as you might imagine, I can hardly wait to wear my t-shirt again to the next Ward Thing.