Brute's Bleat February 24, 2016

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. . . With all the concerns about walleyes dying after being hooked and released in Mille Lacs and how to maintain a decent population in that lake, my suggestion has been to allow only barbless hooks. So far that idea seems to have fallen on deaf ears!
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Prohibiting hunters from using lead shot on small game is another issue that comes up each year. Duck and geese hunters made the change several years ago to non-toxic shot and it seems to me the DNR has it right and wants to eliminate lead from being used in Wildlife Management Areas. Those opposed feel there hasn’t been enough research or study done to warrant a change. Using steel exclusively on small game, pheasants, etc., eliminates having to change shells whether hunting WMAs or Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs). Non-toxic shot is required for those planning to participate in the spring goose hunt which runs from March 1 to April 30th in Minnesota. There is no daily or possession bag limit and hunting is allowed half-hour before sunrise to half-hour after sunset. . .
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The turkeys are still feeding off County Road 8 south of County Park, but on Saturday a huge flock, or flocks, of swans seemed to be moving in on them. I noticed a pair of swans on their own barking and flying over Ney Park Sunday and suspect they were looking for a good nesting area. Spring isn’t that far off and it might be a good idea to remove the covers from your wood duck houses soon . . . There was a lone motorcyclist out on Co. Rd. 8 Saturday, but according to my coffee drinking buddies there were more than the one I saw. . . I thought former Viking Jared Allen chronicled his retirement in a unique way on TV when he announced it and simply rode off (literally) into the sunset aboard his riding horse. Sid Hartman would say “it was a class act”.
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Maple Lake’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival is only about three weeks away, March 12, and I suspect the Chamber of Commerce is putting the final touches on the events leading up to the big day. They kick off the event with a family friendly Irish Party March 5 at the Legion Club which features the Looney Lutherans in the evening’s entertainment. The parade the following weekend usually numbers 100 units or more and the streets are lined with about 5,000 spectators on a day when the weather cooperates. The parade has never been cancelled because of inclement weather, although there was a spring snowstorm the night before one year which affected participation by both the participants and the spectators, but like the postman’s saying, “neither rain, nor snow, nor dark of night shall keep a postman from his appointed rounds”. So plan now to take part in the events the Chamber has scheduled those weekends. I’m sure you’ll want to dig out those green duds that help make the St. Patrick’s Day celebration the outstanding festival it has become.

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