I’m getting on the anxious side of pulling my boat out of the backyard and re-installing the depth finder, batteries, and in general, making sure it is ready for another season of angling. Greasing the bearings on the boat trailer is also on the to-do list as well as plugging in the lights to see if the turn signals work. Turn signals are really a necessity for safety, especially if you’re using the Maple Lake access off busy Hwy. 55 where there aren’t any turning lanes. Checking over the rods, oiling the reels, testing the line strength, and reviewing the inventory in your tackle box or boxes are other things that I should have already been doing, but I’ll blame it on the Sweet Sixteen basketball games. I had picked Kansas, but now that they’re out I haven’t any excuses! I haven’t mentioned fly fishing, but that’s just around the corner, too.
Hey, folks, we finally had a meal of delicious panfish at our house last week after a “fishing winter of discontent”. When commenting about having gone fishing last Tuesday most people gave me kind of a quizzical look like I might be losing it, considering the lakes in Wright County were, for all practical purposes, void of ice. What happened was I got a hot tip from a friend where the sunnies were biting on one of Ottertail County’s 1,000 lakes. So, with jiggle sticks in hand, Daryl Hennen and I left that Tuesday morning planning to meet my brother, Charles, en-route to this secret spot. Hennen was a bit apprehensive about us finding safe ice considering the warm weather, commenting he wasn’t going out on any ice that wasn’t white looking. Black ice, being a no-no, for both of us, I was pleased to see anglers and a couple of ATVs out on the ice when we got to the access.
I listened to most of the 55-45 exciting Annandale Cardinals win over Breck game Friday which propelled them into the Boy’s State Tournament where they meet #3 seeded Esko. That game was at Williams Arena Wednesday. A Cardinal win would pit them against either Jackson County Central or Caledonia on Friday at the big barn on the University campus. If they can get by their first game the Cards would have a rematch from a year ago when Caledonia won 72-66 in the first round. Caledonia went on to play Melrose in the finals, losing 63-51. I figured Rockford would win in the Sub-section finals against Annandale, but the Cards proved me wrong and I wish them the best in the state tournament, which is their fourth stright appearance. . .
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I’m still waiting for the sunfish to turn on the feed bag, but it appears that won’t happen until late ice which won’t be this week, but it’s not far off. On the other hand I’m not hearing much bragging and suspect that means not much action!
My neighbor, Rick Heberling, was part of a six-person group that fished in North Dakota on Pelican Lake for two and a half days, Feb. 21-23. They were Bart, Tom, Jordan, Dominic Lauer, Rick and a friend of Jordan, Ryan.
Rick said this is their second year on Pelican Lake which is connected to Devils Lake. They stayed at a resort, West Bay, right on the lake and had to travel about a mile to where they wanted to fish. West Bay is a former farm turned into a resort because of the rising water from Devils Lake over the years. He commented their cabin was attractive, small, but adequate for their needs. “Everyone had to be seated before we could eat,” he laughed.
There were three groups of anglers on Maple Lake Saturday, the day of the cancelled fishing derby, but I wasn’t one of them. Friday’s rain made the lake surface look kind of sloppy which carried over into Saturday. I chose to wait for the water to disappear which means this week sometime. Quite a few of the spearing houses have been taken off area lakes, mostly because of the rain. The spearing season is over Feb. 28 and all houses have to be off inland waters on March 7 in the southern zone and March 21 north of the Moorhead to Duluth line. Angling for walleyes, northerns, and bass largemouth and smallmouth comes to a close on Feb. 28, too, but the season remains open for panfish, crappies and rockbass. With continued warm weather the accesses will start to deteriorate fast which is no surprise to veteran anglers, but a word of caution anyway! Border waters have their own set of rules which is a boon to anglers who can’t wait for open water. . .
When it’s windy and cold my daily walks with Vanna are usually in the woodsy parts of Ney or Zum Brunnen county parks. Both apparently have a fair number of deer running in them, some randomly but most on established trails that take them out of the park into adjoining fields where they feed. The bird population in Ney Park consists mostly of woodpeckers, a few nuthatches and an occasional cardinal this time of year, at least that’s what I’m seeing! I stopped Saturday to see if there was any activity by the beavers that were working in the creek that flows into the pond from Lake Mary and north out of the park toward Silver Creek last summer. It looked to me like the beavers went south for the winter, but there was a current in the creek which has remained open all winter, apparently because of the lake’s high water. This is the first time I’ve noticed open water in the creek in the dead of winter since I’ve been hiking in the park the past 20 years.
Craig Muyres, one of the guardians of Maple Lake, stopped by with a fish story from a recent fishing trip to Lake of the Woods with his son, Cory, who lives in Sauk Rapids. He was needling me in a nice way because I’m still looking for some to keep and I was pleased to find out someone is catching fish. Craig said they fished five days running and he “out-fished the kid” by catching 8- and 10-lb. walleyes and one 10-lb. northern. In fact, he figured he also caught the most fish. Besides limits they enjoyed four fish fries in Craig’s camper at Arneson’s Resort. He said they fished deep for saugers and moved to a reef for walleyes and brought home limits, 4 saugers and 2 walleyes. He gave his son a pat on the back, commenting he cut all the holes, provided transportation on the lake, and did most of the cooking. “It doesn’t get much better than that!” he said.
Chuck provided transportation and a two-person angling house which took a lot of the work out of fishing.
After fishing on Rush Lake with my brother, Chuck, on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday with limited success, I’ll admit it was much better than around here. We kept five Wednesday afternoon, wished we’d brought along a container to dip water into a pail so we could have released the fish. As it was, my other brother, Marlin, ended up with the fillets after he visited with us that evening. We spent an hour or so talking with other anglers and spearers on the lake Thursday as well as the Conservation Officer Chris Vinton from the Perham area. None of the fisher-people were doing much; he didn’t give us a whole lot of encouragement when he commented it had been slow all over. He was working with a trainee on her last day before transferring to Minneapolis and Lake Minnetonka. Apparently we looked like law abiding anglers as Vinton didn’t bother with a license check, asking only if we had any fish, which we didn’t. We hadn’t drilled any holes yet!
After seeing a huge flock, or flocks of turkeys feeding in a harvested corn field south of Hasty and off the west side of County Road 8, I’m beginning to think hunting pheasants is the wrong species. Two of the turkeys were feeding fairly close to the road when I stopped to take a photo (below), but they didn’t waste any time doing the turkey trot to put some distance between us. I tried to get a head count and came up with thirty that I could see, but there were more hidden off to the south by a small knoll in the field, so I’d guess the total number was at least fifty birds. The turkeys have been feeding in that field for several days and I suspect they will continue until all the corn is gone or the snow gets too deep. There’s a number of unharvested corn fields in Wright County which should be a boon to wildlife. Thanks, guys!
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Winter fishing on local lakes leaves a lot to be desired this year and I suspect the late freeze-up had something to do with it. I made a couple of trips to Rock Lake last week and visited with other anglers who weren’t having much success either. One fellow commented Rock was the third lake he’d tried that morning and didn’t have anything to show for his efforts. He had been to Little Cedar (nothing) and East Maple Lake (a few too-small crappies). I tried various depths north of the public access without any fish showing on the Vexillar and then took a hike across the lake and drilled lots of holes, but not finding any fish again. I tried bumping the bottom which sometimes works, and after nothing from 7 to 13 feet, I decided to take a break from drilling and concentrate on jigging. I was about to give up on that when the red started to move on the Vexillar indicating fish. I dropped my wax worm and when I moved it up a little a keeper sunfish hit it with authority.