Brute's Bleat: March 26, 2014


This is the time of year that panfish fishing on local lakes should be hot, but this isn’t a normal year so that isn’t happening.  It’s possible to get a meal if you’re not too fussy about the size.  They were biting on  Rock Lake last Thursday morning when I elected to walk out from the access rather than splash through the water which was accumulating there. After I had five on the ice I figured they were biting well enough to give Daryl Hennen a call, suggesting he and his grandson, Logan, may want to get in on the action. Logan had a week off from school in Stillwater and was staying with Daryl and Kathy.  Thursday was our warm day for last week and there wasn’t any wind so we could tough it out without any shelters.  It didn’t take long for Logan to figure out how to go about setting the hook and start reeling under the toutorage of his granddad even though the bite had slackend off. Fortunately they seemed to have the hot hole and started sorting out the keepers.  They figured they needed about 13-15 for Friday night’s meal and with six from me they had enough about the same time Logan’s yawns suggested it was getting close to his nap time.  Being the good grandpa Daryl is, he commented the nap idea might be good for both of them.  Anyway, I stuck around until I had two more keepers and figured I had enough for a meal with the open package at home before I hung it up, too.  Two guys from Howard Lake fished across the lake and were coming off about the same time and commented they had done okay, but there, too, it took a lot of sorting.       .         .         I went back to the same lake late Sunday morning and had the lake to myself for an hour or so. A portion of the access area had re-frozen, but I still elected to hike out, walking on a previously flooded trail.  While I was fishing a pickup drove out where I had walked and he didn’t break through so I could have driven had I wanted or had been brave enough. Anyway, it was another couple of hours of sorting, moving around from hole-to-hole before I had enough for another meal.  Being the eternal optomist, fishing can only get better before we lose the 32 inches of ice still out there.  After seeing the story in the Sunday Tribune about the north end of Maple Lake as having a partial freeze-out, I gave the Montrose Fisheries office a call to find out if it was open to liberalized fishing. The answer I got from Mark Pelham was no, because at this point it’s only a partial freeze-out.  So don’t head out there with your nets yet or you might get pinched.    
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This has been an unusually cold winter which some blame on a polar vortex which has become a favorite phrase with those reporting the weather.  We’re still running way below normal temperatures which might be good for the sappers who are collecting sap for Maple syrup, one of the benefits of having cold nights and warmer days.  Another term the weather people may want to use is “winter-weary” which I’d say is affecting abaut 99% of Minnesotans who figure enough is enough. Inclement weather apparently doesn’t affect dogs as much as humans and Vanna seems to take it all in stride. She may show a wee bit more enthusiasm on warmer days, but that may be because different scents are more prominent on warmer days.  I haven’t seen any skunks yet, but they may be smart enough to stay holed up until it gets warmer. Another positive is this kind of weather should lessen the flooding problems parts of Minnesota and North Dakota seem to have each spring. I’m seeing a few rooster pheasants, but no hens, which has me a little concerned.  A pair of Canada geese visited us Thursday at Rock Lake and there was a lone eagle perched in a tree not far from the access, apparently keeping an eye out for a free meal of fish. People are seeing a fair number of deer and turkeys, so they apparently have survived, despite the cold and long winter.
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Incidentially, your fishing license expired March 1, and if you don’t want to be listed in cuffs and collars it’s time to get a new one. So to keep fishing, you’ll need to purchase a 2014 license. DNR officials say with a so many different purchasing options available, there really is no reason not to have your license when hitting the lake. “Actually there is a smart phone app that you can get them with and that will send you an electronic copy or license right to your phone,” Luke Belgard of the Minnesota DNR said. “You can still do it the old fashioned way. Go to the bait shop or gas station that sells them, too. You can do it that way to get your license.” 
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