Brute's Bleat February 1, 2017

My thanks to Nick Pawlenty for pinch-hitting for me and his OnStar practical joke was a good example of what can happen when a group puts their heads together for some fun. In this case getting OnStar travel directions in the dead of winter on a Minnesota lake from a representative answering from down south who probably had never seen a frozen lake!
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The last time I fished was Jan. 9 in the afternoon on Rock Lake without a whole lot of success despite checking out several different areas. One fellow had a limit of crappies caught off to the right of the access in about 30-33 feet of water. A small group was congregated off to the south, but most of the sunfish they had were small. I got some friendly kidding from John Wolff who figured I was giving Rock Lake too much ink in this column. He suggested I zero in on Granite Lake to take some of the pressure off Rock. One angler put a minnow down on one of his lines and came up with a small walleye which was impressive. I suggested he fry it and put it between two slices of toast for a great treat. He agreed! I tried some shallow water further to the south, but could only come up with some perch that were too small for the frying pan. Later I fished on the west side and found out the sunnies would bother the bait, but only toy with it. I managed to catch a sunfish and crappie and quit about 5:30. . . Fishing the next day on Rock Lake wasn’t what I wanted it to be when George Palmer came out from Plymouth to test the waters. I wanted to show him a good time, but the sunfish didn’t cooperate and I sent him home without any sunnies for his freezer about 5:00 p.m. On the plus side the near 40-degree weather was great for winter angling and maybe, just maybe, they will be biting the next time out. East Maple Lake has been kicking out crappies and a few walleyes and that could be the answer for me. . . My brother, Charles, and three of his friends from Ottertail made a trip to Devils Lake in North Dakota several weeks ago for walleyes and perch. He said fishing was slow and they caught about a dozen fish. Not good, he said. They stayed at the Woodland Resort where he said the accommodations were just great. The resort people and some members of the Perch Patrol seemed to think better fishing in North Dakota was still on the horizon. . . I’m thinking late ice in Minnesota might be the answer for local anglers. That’s a ways off yet, but the problem with late ice is that a warm spell can ruin the ice in a hurry and anglers will have to take advantage of what ice is available and when it is available. . . The Maple Lake Lake Association is following the old adage, “Discretion is the better part of Valor” as far as their Fishing Derby is concerned when they voted to cancel the Feb. 4th affair on Maple Lake because of their concern for the safety of the participants, in this case insufficient ice. This is the second year running that the derby has been cancelled for lack of ice, but an optimist would figure it won’t happen three years in a row. That’s the right attitude to have and we’re predicting 2018 will provide enough ice to make the derby a reality . . . There was a large contingent of anglers on Maple Lake Sunday with many of them being cautious and parking on the swimming beach. I didn’t get out to see if they were catching fish, or just enjoying being out.
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While waiting in the Mpls. VA Dermatology Dept. last Friday I was scanning some of the available magazines and came across some brief bits that included information on skunks. We’ve had our dogs skunked while hunting either grouse or pheasants and it’s not a pleasant experience. Since then we’ve included a skunk kit in our arsenal of equipment and, fortunately, we haven’t had to use it. Getting back to the brief bits, skunks take a break in the coldest months of the winter in Minnesota and hibernate until it starts to warm up, usually the first part of February. That makes them smarter than most Minnesotans! We knew that much about skunks, but we didn’t know they tend to congregate into groups when it’s time to snooze, apparently sharing a den in an effort to ward off winter’s cold weather. So, with the coming of warmer weather, don’t be surprised if you smell one of those two-striped animals any day now!

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