Birdshot and backlashes

by Bob Cary

It was the first winter trout fishing opening that didn’t draw crowds. It was the first one this writer missed in maybe 30 years. We went skiing instead. <BR><BR>We were all set to go after trout on Saturday with our cousin’s son Frank, who is attending classes at Vermilion College. Friday night, Frank called to say his car wouldn’t start. See, Frank comes from Illinois where 20 or 30 below is not normal. He is attempting to adjust to northern Minnesota winters and one of the adjustments is learning that up here an ordinary car probably needs a block heater. Frank never heard of a block heater. He has now.<BR><BR>Frank and some of his college buddies had been fishing earlier in the winter for walleyes through the ice. He has acquired skis and learned cross country skiing. <BR><BR>But that was back in December when the temperature was in the teens. Now it is real winter. However, Frank will figure it out and by now has no doubt been catching trout. <BR><BR>A lot of college students simply walk down the trail from the school to Miners Lake to harvest a trout dinner. Miners also has some crappies and bluegills which occasionally hit under the ice. <BR><BR>When Miners Lake was first stocked with rainbow trout by the IRRRB, students were all over the ice. Students caught and ate so many trout, the lake got dubbed “The Do It Yourself Food Shelf.”<BR><BR>STUFF TO DO<BR><BR>The State of Minnesota puts out a number of informative publications aimed at providing visitors with leads on places to visit. Residents can also find some interesting destinations for a day’s tour. In northeastern Minnesota the 2004 Tour Guide, of course, lists the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. <BR><BR>Skiing, snowshoeing and dog sledding are featured in the “Lakes of the Northern Lights” section. Places to see include Ely’s International Wolf Center, Dorothy Molter Museum and the Soudan Underground Mine. In an accompanying publication “Heritage Tours,” the state features such spots as Burntside Lodge on Burntside Lake listed in the National Register of Historic Places.<BR><BR>Other notable places include the Northern State Bank, Virginia, the Cusson CCC Camp at Orr, Church of the Good Shepherd in Coleraine, built by the Oliver Mining Company in an era when the iron companies owned the stores, houses and perhaps even your soul.<BR><BR>One of the most intriguing cultural displays is at the Bois Forte Heritage Center at the Fortune Bay Casino. The Heritage Center is a small, compact museum that offers a capsule visit through the Ojibwe history of the area up to now. It includes the early, pre-settlement days, the reservation history, the boarding school era. The exhibits are explained by Ojibwe people.<BR><BR>I have only one problem with the Bois Forte. It is commonly pronounced “Boys” Forte. The word “Bois” is French. It is correctly pronounced “bwah” and it means forest or woodland. Bois Forte should be pronounced Bwah Forte. But it isn’t and probably won’t be.<BR><BR>One other thing. The state Heritage Tour booklet notes that pioneer fur dealer Henry Mayhew cut a trail to the Ontario border from Grand Marais, which later became the Gunflint Trail. That may be correct, but the booklet notes that Mayhew found iron ore up there in 1886 “believed to be the first iron ore discovery in Minnesota.” <BR><BR>No, it ain’t. Iron was discovered around Lake Vermilion in the 1860s. The folks who write the heritage booklets for the state ought to consult with the Minnesota Historical Society now and then.