Outdoors

Sun
12
Sep

Birdshot and backlashes - fish or hunt?

It is that awkward time of the year. You are out fishing and the fish aren’t biting. You think maybe if you were hunting you would be flushing a lot of grouse. Or you are out grouse hunting and can’t find any. You sit down on a log and figure maybe if you were fishing, the walleyes would be hitting. That is after the grouse season opens on Saturday, Sept. 18.<BR><BR>And then it gets worse the following week when the duck season opens along with woodcock. <BR><BR>Adding to the confusion is the early Youth Waterfowl Hunt on Sept. 18 for hunters age 15 or under, accompanied by a non-hunting adult. The idea there is to get kids out hunting without having to compete with adults, which may or may not make any sense. When we were kids, we couldn’t wait to go hunting with the men. It as a part of growing up, of being one of the adult hunters.

Sat
11
Sep

Walleyes, bass come alive for fall

The secret to fall fishing might very well be trying new ways of angling. Of course, keeping a close ear to talk at the local bait shop doesn’t hurt either.<BR><BR>Last week the word was the walleyes were taking nightcrawlers up in the shallows. Several reports came in of guys doing well by slow trolling in secluded bays with worms. Hey, if it works, why not?<BR><BR>Fred Floura of Duluth was fishing with a Rapala in Moose Lake when he tied into one dandy of a smallmouth bass. At 21 inches long, the smallie weighed 5 lb. 4 oz. on the scale at Skube’s Bait and Tackle.<BR><BR>A 4 lb. 8 oz. bass with a 21-inch length and a 14-inch girth was taken on a crank Rapala in Fall Lake by Ronnie V. Morton of Rudy, AR and entered at Voyageur North Outfitters.<BR><BR>Jack Dreyer of San Mateo, CA registered a 19-inch 3 lb. 8 oz.

Sun
05
Sep

Birdshot and backlashes - Fall is approaching

It’s caterpillar, mushroom and early bird hunting time. Caterpillars - little skinny ones, fat brightly painted ones, medium-sized fuzzy ones - are hiking to and fro, deciding where it is they will hang up or spin their cocoons for the winter. The moths and butterflies that fluttered and sailed around the woods this past summer, laid their eggs, hatched into worms of some sort and are now in the process of becoming winter dwellers. <BR><BR>One thing that is hard to figure out: how can these insects live all winter in those thin little cocoons with a fraction of an inch of insulation, and survive 40 degrees below zero?<BR><BR>All of nature is simply amazing and bugs are some of the most amazing. Some of the flying insects don’t hang around all winter, but migrate - like the monarch butterfly that heads off across the Gulf of Mexico for South America. Incredible.

Sun
05
Sep

Hook and bullet club - Grouse season coming

There are two things many outdoorsman pay attention to this time of year: the predictions in the Farmer’s Almanac and the ruffed grouse count<BR><BR>We heard the Farmer’s Almanac predict plenty of snow this winter so get ready for another winter wonderland in the Ely area. <BR><BR>As for grouse, the news is not as good. <BR><BR>The DNR coordinates what they call a “drumming survey” whereby people drive down roads in the spring and stop and listen for the sound of grouse drumming. From the number of wings flapping on the ground, biologists can guesstimate the number of birds that are in that area. It’s far from an exact science, but it’s a pretty good indicator.<BR><BR>In northeastern Minnesota, the numbers were down 17 percent from last year. This was not what was expected.<BR><BR>Grouse populations are cyclical and usually last around 10 years.

Sun
05
Sep

Bass still hitting plus a 12 lb. walleye

Fishing for bass has been the hot ticket for anglers in the Ely area. Even though the overall fishing picture is not as pretty as it was a few weeks ago, there are still fish dinners to be had.<BR><BR>Three monster smallmouth bass were registered in the Catch and Release division. Leading the way was a 22-inch smallie caught on a leech and released in Farm Lake by Mark Collins of Sycamore, IL and registered at Timber Trail Lodge.<BR><BR>Neil Phillips of St. Paul, MN boated a 21-inch smallmouth in Basswood Lake and Katlin Phillips of Eagan did the same, with both releases coming in from Timber Trail Lodge. <BR><BR>A 4 lb. 8 oz. smallmouth that went 20.5 inches on the ruler was caught by Richard Szutenbach of St. John, MN in Burntside Lake and checked in at Skube’s Bait and Tackle. <BR><BR>Charlie Muttschall of Cape Coral, FL registered a 4 lb. 2 oz. smallie caught on jigs in Bear Island Lake and registered at Timber Wolf Lodge.

Mon
30
Aug

Birdshot and backlashes

If a journalist just pays attention to his mail, he will probably get better material to print than he can think up himself. In the summer we wrote about the wildflowers in our three-million-acre garden, which is the Superior National Forest. A lot of mail came in from folks who study wildflowers while up here on vacation.<BR><BR>Steven Masters, Minneapolis sent in list of 39 wildflowers he and his wife Twyla identified June 19-26. “This June assortment of wildflowers was far more extensive than in years past. I’m guessing because of the cool weather. It was the first time I’ve seen a goat’s beard and a pale corydalis anywhere.” <BR><BR>This was in response to a column about asters such as hawkweeds.<BR><BR>The goat’s beard is a bright yellow aster which was very evident in June. Come to think of it, I don’t recall noticing it around the woods before either.

Sun
29
Aug

Hook and bullet club - Fishing Big Lake

The annual Ely-Winton Rod and Gun Club Hawg Fishing Contest puts us out on the water for a day of fishing with hopes of landing a cash prize at the end of the day.<BR><BR>We’ve fished Basswood Lake every year of the contest but this year we decided to try something different. <BR><BR>With the two oldest boys, Jacob and Mitchell, joining Mike and Bill and I, we loaded up the boats and put in at Big Lake. If we couldn’t buy a fish, our alternate plan was to drive back down the Echo Trail, hitting the smaller lakes. <BR><BR>The morning started off slow fishingwise. Big Lake does not have a lot of structure to it so we decided to play the wind. Blowing hard out of the south and southwest, we moved into the north sides of the lake, hoping to find action where the bait fish had been blown in.<BR><BR>Just before lunch we had a couple of hits in front of a small island where it came up from 22 feet to 14 feet, but nothing on the stringer.

Sun
29
Aug

Except for bass, fishing slows down

You knew it had to happen sooner or later. The fishing action in the Ely area slowed to a near crawl as lakes were flooded with plenty of food from minnows to leeches in the late summer time period.<BR><BR>The annual Ely-Winton Hawg Fishing Contest saw very few entries with the top walleye just over six pounds and the top northern under 14 pounds. <BR><BR>While the weather was cooperating, out on the water, the fish were not. <BR><BR>From Burntside to Basswood the reports were the same - slow.

Mon
23
Aug

Birdshot and backlashes

So where is the Irish bobber-watching Olympic team?<BR><BR>You didn’t know the Irish had a bobber watching team in the Olympics? Well, they don’t. But there area lot of bobber-watching fishermen in Ireland.<BR><BR>And in England, Scotland and Wales and across to the continent in France and Germany and elsewhere in the world. There are a lot more bobber watchers than there are equestrians or water polo players or any of those sports like beach volleyball which help fill the schedule of Olympics 2004 in Athens. There are even Greek bobber watchers, but they don’t get to compete.<BR><BR>In the scramble to include just about every activity known to the human race, a few, like fishing, got left out. There is shooting. All kinds of shooting competition. But not fishing. Why is it that the Olympic people like hunters but not fishermen?<BR><BR>The Olympics started in ancient Greece with competition in track and field, weights and wrestling.

Sun
22
Aug

Hook and bullet club - seasons changing

The cool nights give it away – fall is just around the corner. This may go down as being one of the shortest summers weatherwise which made it fly by all the faster. <BR><BR>We had to make a trip out to the shack last week and all the signs were in place for the best season of the year.<BR><BR>First, the bugs were nearly non-existent. Instead of having a windshield full of smooshed critters, we could actually get a clear look as we crested the hill where Bear Island Lake can be seen in the distance.<BR><BR>As the pavement turned to dirt a young sugar maple had enough of summer and had turned largely to bright red. <BR><BR>In the corner of a cutover, the tree’s red leaves stood out among the young poplar and a backdrop of pine trees. <BR><BR>We saw some yellow leaves as well and Evan, age 5, took to the game of finding “signs of fall” as we drove down the road. <BR><BR>“There’s another sign of fall,” he said.

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