Brute's Bleat April 20, 2016

Illegal commercial fishing was costly for an Ontario man, Albert Fortier, Thunder Bay, who was fined $1,000 for fishing without a license and another $1,000 for unlawfully possessing a commercial fish net. In addition, he is prohibited from obtaining or possessing a fishing license of any kind and from engaging in any fish-related activities for a period of ten years. Conservation officers on a routine marine patrol of Chipman Lake observed a boat with four men from a distance and saw Fortier set and retrieve several gill nets. He had three sturgeons in the boat which were seized and forfeited to the Crown. Fortier pled guilty in an Ontario Court at Thunder Bay Feb. 3, 2016. From that I’ll assume Ontario thinks quite highly of the sturgeons they have in their lakes and rivers. So now is as good a time as any to remind anglers in Minnesota to make sure they have a current fishing license for this spring and summer. Maple Lake’s water temperature Sunday evening was 48 degrees in the main part of the lake with a 51 reading in a shallow protected bay. Daytime temps may be a little higher and the crappies should be active. After struggling with my boat trailer’s signal and brake lights for several hours on Friday, I finally solved the problem and put the boat in Maple Lake late Saturday morning. Everything came alive (all four items) when switched on. I hadn’t really planned on fishing that day and hadn’t brought anything along except a spinning rod and reel equipped with a paintless lead jig and a bobber and a container of wax worms left over from fishing on the ice back in March. Anyway, I set the bobber for about two feet off the bottom and cast toward some rushes. I had bites immediately and kept some of the larger sunfish in the livewell. As the lake warmed up the sunnies started feeding on top of the water and I was wishing I would have brought my fly rod along. I shortened up my line to about six inches below the bobber which helped, but I was missing more bites than I was catching, but it was fun to have that kind of action. With seven keepers by 1:30 p.m. I decided to call it quits and, remembering Janis saying we were having sloppy joes for supper, I released the sunnies for another time. . . Daryl Hennen and I gave his boat a shakedown cruise Sunday evening when he wanted to try a different pitched prop, hoping it would plane more quickly, which it did. We tried fishing in the same bay with nary a bite, which kind of told us Saturday’s afternoon sunshine was necessary to attract some food to the surface, which in turn, attracted the sunfish. There were several other anglers on the lake Saturday getting the kinks out of their lines. Angling dates on border waters for walleyes varies with some never closing (Iowas and North Dakota) while Big Stone (South Dakota) opens this weekend. The Rainy River is another hot spot anglers like to hit early. Keep a current DNR Minnesota Fishing Regulations book with you and consult it when you fish different lakes.
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The warm spring weekend brought out hikers, dog handlers, and horse people to Ney Park. I counted six horse trailers in the east park’s parking lot Sunday afternoon when Vanna and I were there. Assuming two horses per trailer (12), they out-numbered the dogs and other people about three to one. I noticed two large frogs on the Ney Park path out from a pond Thursday afternoon that didn’t seem to be in any hurry and were apparently just coming out of hibernation. That’s contrary to the motorcycle riders who chose the weekend to keep me awake well after 10:30 p.m. while they roared back and forth on Hwy. 55. Apparently one of the perks of riding this time of the year, besides the unusually warm evenings, is the lack of bugs splattering on their helmets. . . Field work is getting underway by the farmers and there’s been a little buzz from a few lawnmowers around town. An inch or two of rain would do wonders to settle the dust, as well as green things up in a hurry!

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