Brute's Bleat


I received what I’d say was a harassing phone call Monday morning wishing me a Merry Christmas. Naturally it was from Mike Muller who was enjoying another 80-degree day in Florida while needling me about our snowy morning. I think he was disappointed we only got about 2 inches while the southern portion of the state was hit harder.    .     .     Last Thursday George Palmer and I made a late ice run into Ottertail County to fish sunfish on one of that county’s 1,000 lakes. It was kind of a windy day, but we took along two portables which kept the wind off our backs. We were sight fishing in about six feet of water on a lake introduced to me by Tom Neu and Joe Rassat a year ago. It took a fair amount of sorting, but by 4 p.m. we each had 10 dandy sunfish in our pails and we called it a day. The large sunnies weren’t on a feeding binge and often they would take a look at our bait and then back off, much like on Maple Lake.  I gave Muller a call about 2:30 p.m. to let him know how we were doing in the honey hole. He had just come off Lake Okeechobee with 57 Shell Crackers (a fish similar to sunfish) with his guide, Jesse, which one-upped George and myself. I had to put Mike on hold during our conversation while I got a bite and pulled in another keeper. Palmer had a similar situation, except his bite was a large mouth bass.  We noticed an abundance of Canada geese, but saw only two deer and we spotted one pheasant rooster near Evansville, a town which brags about being a pheasant capital   .     .    On Saturday it was back to reality for me when I tried Maple Lake. An angler had just come off the lake’s south end and said all he had to show for the morning was one 7-inch sunfish. I almost turned around and went home, but mulled the situation over and headed for Donnelly Drive and got on the lake south of Rich Erdahl’s residence. I used some available holes, probably drilled by Don Heimbecker, that had a skim of ice from the night before. I caught a couple of catch-and-release sunfish and managed to pull the wax worm away from two Northerns that were swimming side-by-side.  Not a whole lot of sunfish action, but maybe it will get better when the snow melts and runs down the holes. 
Ann Heberling, who has been fishing with her dad, Rick, for the past five years up north, landed this 42-inch, 22 pounds. Grand Champion Northern while fishing Lake of the Woods during our warm spell two weeks ago. It was the largest Northern for the six-person group who fished three days out of Warroad.  Two years ago Ann was group champion with a 41-inch lunker. 
This year the Northern Pike fishing group was composed of Ann, Kate and Rick Heberling, Bill Ecceles, Terry Scheiber and Tom Lauer. Ecceles largest was 41 inches and 21 pounds, Scheiber had the third-place fish at 40.5 inches and 19 pounds, 12 oz.; and Kate landing one that weighed 14 1/2 pounds. 
Rick felt this was one of their better years and would have been even better, but a pressure ridge and open water kept them from getting back to their hot spot in Muskeg Bay. While neither he nor Tom caught any huge fish, his 30th year of fishing Lake of the Woods, Rick said they provided plenty of eaters for the fish-hungry group that stayed in a cabin and enjoyed the luxury of hot and cold running water. 
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The State Girls Basketball tournament left me with the impression most of the girls know how to shoot free throws with an uncanny accuracy as well as play the game, regardless of what Class was playing.  Good entertainment, but none of my favorites won!
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