Birdshot and backlashes

by Bob Cary

Echo readers are well aware that we have excellent snow on this part of the Iron Range. The boys and girls ski teams are setting new records and the Hidden Valley recreation trails are excellent. This is due to the efforts of super-groomer Fred Rayman who packs the trails and sets the tracks. Once again, Ely is the place to go for cross country skiing. <BR><BR>Indeed, Ely skiers have been on snow for over a month. The first couple of weeks were confined to the golf course where a couple inches of snow on the grass was sufficient. But with real snow, Hidden Valley is simply superb. Looks like great skiing right through Christmas.<BR><BR>Snowmobiles are tooling around on the lakes and on some of the trails. Another foot of snow and the woodland trails will be excellent. In spite of snow cover, most of he lakes have pretty good ice, just in time for the Jan. 1 winter trout season in lakes totally within the BWCAW. Lake partly in and partly outside, or totally outside of the BWCAW have a Jan 15 opening date.<BR><BR>OPEN WATER TROUT<BR><BR>With the whole country fruz up, it may sound nutsy to be talking about open water trout fishing, but it is only four months away. I mean trout fishing with sunlight dancing on the riffles, birds trilling in the woodlands, frogs croaking and mosquitoes buzzing. <BR><BR>Fly fishing seems to be increasing in popularity a little more each year. We have a number of tourist-type folks coming up here each summer to fly fish for smallmouth bass. But a few have caught onto the stream trout stocked in spots like Miners Lake. Local folk are well aware of the trout resource and some of these are taking rainbows and brookies on fly tackle.<BR><BR>Anyone figuring to try fly fishing might be interested in dropping down to the Lester River Fly Shop at 308 E. Superior St. in Duluth. After outfitting fly fisherfolk for a lot of years, the fly shop is going out of business on Dec. 30. And all their tackle is going out the door at 40% off- rods, reels, lines, leaders, flies, the works.<BR><BR>TREE TIME<BR><BR>No, not time to plant ’em, time to order ’em. The North St. Louis County Soil & Water Conservation District is taking orders now for delivery of transplants in the spring of 2005. <BR><BR>This is a great service to land owners because trees and shrubs can be purchased in small lots, also in mixed lots. We have used their wildlife package, which includes highbush cranberry, American plum, Siberian crab apple and red maple - 20 plants for $30. The county also has chokecherry, Juneberry, lilac, ash, dogwood, birch, balsam, weeping willow and red pine transplants. For details on ordering, contact the district at the Northland Office Building, 307 First St. South, Suite 114, Virginia, MN 55792.<BR><BR>The plants become available about mid-May. These are not little 8-inch seedlings. These are transplants, from 18 inches to 24 inches tall. They are hardy and well-tended. The ones we planted last year all survived. Not a single one died. We even harvested a pint or so of Juneberries a couple of months after we planted the shrubs.<BR><BR>LIVING OFF THE LAND<BR><BR>Some of the young folk who attend Vermilion College try to piece out their groceries with game and fish from around the area. A number of them took deer during the season, providing a lot of venison meals. <BR><BR>A few are ice fishing, trying to come up with a walleye or northern pike meals every week. We knew of a trio who hiked into Pickerel Lake, off the Fernberg Road, a week ago, intent on getting some of the huge pike rumored to dwell in that piece of ice-over water. They spent a half day drilling holes and lowering lines on Pickerel Lake without a single bite, which is what can happen sometimes.<BR><BR>MORE TECHNOLOGY<BR><BR>Hot items in outdoor stores right now are the Marcum V5-460 and V5-560 video fish locators. They consist of a tiny video camera which is lowered to the bottom of the lake and sends up an impulse that shows a picture of the whole area below on a screen. You can see every rock, weed, bump and fish below in detail. The cost is a problem. The V5-460 is around $500 and the V5-560 is a little over $700. These are going to be popular devices next summer but they still don’t make the fish bite, even when you are looking at them on the screen. <BR><BR>