Outdoors

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.

Sun
22
Aug

Monster fish released in Ely area

It almost seems to good to be true. Still swimming in Ely area lakes are a 22-inch smallmouth, a 44-inch northern and a 31-inch walleye. <BR><BR>Each fish was caught and released by anglers visiting the area. Fisheries officials have been encouraging catch and release for many years now and their efforts are paying off.<BR><BR>This week more fish were entered into the North Country Angler fishing contest through Catch and Release than those listed as frying pan material. <BR><BR>Big fish put back means the future of our lakes is looking better than ever. Those fish will lay eggs by the millions in the years to come and provide for the next generation of fishing action.<BR><BR>Leading the way this week was the massive northern pike released by Dusty Nelson, age 17, of Waseca, MN.

Sun
15
Aug

Birdshot and backlashes - new owners at Shig-Wak Lodge

Where does one take grandkids fishing when they come to Ely for a visit? One answer is to let them pick where they want to fish, which is what we did last week. The grandkids, Alex and Isaak Sommer from Walker, Minnesota, opted for Little Long Lake. Why Little Long? Because they were up in previous years and had a great time filling the stringer with sunfish, a species in good supply at Little Long.<BR><BR>Thus it was that we arrived at Shig-Wak Resort to pick up a boat and motor previously reserved. Four of us piled into the boat - grandma Edith in the bow, Alex and Isaak amidships and grandpa in the stern with the motor.<BR><BR>The problem was, when we were there before, it was springtime and the panfish were in the east end of the lake on the sand flats adjacent to the lodge.

Sun
15
Aug

Hook and bullet club - Kettle Falls trip

“I got a bite,” I said, watching my line moving through the water. <BR><BR>“No you don’t,” said Mike, my brother-in-law who was sitting in the front of the boat.<BR><BR>“Sure I do, the current is going out and my line is going upstream,” I said.<BR><BR>We were fishing in the Canadian Channel between Kettle Falls and Rainy Lake. From here the water from Namakan Lake flows toward International Falls through some of the best walleye fishing grounds around the area. <BR><BR>“That’s not a fish, you’re probably hooked on the bottom,” said Mike.

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