Outdoors

Fri
22
Jul

Catch and release fishing alive and well in Ely, Minn.

Temperatures in the 90-plus degree range may have baked a few fishermen, but the entries keep rolling in for the 2005 North Country Angler fishing contest.<BR><BR>The biggest fish registered this week are still in the water. Anglers can enter their Catch and Release entries at any registration station. Just look for a star in the ads of this week’s issue. Plus, every entry is included in the end of the year drawing for a free fishing trip for two. <BR><BR>Hitting 31 inches on the ruler and 11 lbs. on the scale was a Basswood Lake walleye released by Phillip Lindberg of Island Lake, IL and entered at Packsack Canoe Trips and Log Cabins. <BR><BR>Using a Rapala deep runner at the end of his line, Bob Abrajano of Chicago, IL caught a 30-inch walleye in Basswood Lake on his birthday.

Sun
17
Jul

Birdshot and backlashes

They are peeking out from under the green bushes like clumps of turquoise beads. Blueberries. Ripe blueberries. The woods are loaded with them. Not all over the woods, but in those parts of the woods where berry bushes grow thick. Rocky ridges which often have berry plants but in most years are dry and bear meager crops are loaded this year. We have had sufficient rain that even the scrubbiest little blueberry shrubs on the granite ledges are loaded.<BR><BR>A week ago about half of them were ripe. Now just about all of them are ripe. In some places a picker can rake them off the branches by the handful. And just in time, too. We had the last of our 2004 blueberries in a pancake breakfast a week ago. Time to gather the new crop. <BR><BR>Also, wild strawberries are finishing up. They were at their peak about two weeks ago. The tame ones are ripe now although it is getting toward the end of that harvest, too. The trouble with wild strawberries is their size.

Sat
16
Jul

Hook and bullet club

I don’t know what kind of tourist town Ely will be five, 10 or 15 years from now but I would bet there will be more things for people to do down the road.<BR><BR>We may not ever have a water park or go cart track or even putt-putt golf in town, but there may be some enterprising soul out there who will find a way to entertain people and make a buck.<BR><BR>We were looking for something to do on a hot Sunday and decided the North Shore would be the best place to spend the day.<BR><BR>The cooler was packed with pop and sandwich supplies as we headed down Highway 1. <BR><BR>We stopped at the picnic area on the Temperance River and shared our chips, Oreos and sandwich scraps with the seagulls and a busy chipmunk. (A word to the wise - seagulls love Oreos). <BR><BR>Rocks were tossed, skipped and pitched into Lake Superior, which was cloaked in a layer of fog too thick to see more than 100 feet out on to the lake.

Fri
15
Jul

Big smallmouth bass and northern pike in fish parade

In the world of smallmouth bass fishing, at least in this neck of the woods a 20-incher is a very nice fish. Every year we have a select group that make the 20-inch club with a nice smallmouth.<BR><BR>For Kim Quam of Rochester, MN she went all the way to the 22-inch level with a 5 lb. 7 oz. smallmouth caught in Basswood Lake on a Rapala. She brought the fish into Spirit of the Wilderness to enter the North Country Angler fishing contest.<BR><BR>The funny thing about smallmouth bass is some make 20 inches at four pounds and others can be only 19 inches and closing in on five pounds.<BR><BR>Ian Vandersee found this out with a 4 lb. 8 oz. smallie caught in Newton Lake on a minnow. His fish went 19 inches on the ruler. The entry came through Packsack Canoe Trips and Log Cabins. <BR><BR>Mike Prochaska of Stewartville, MN had a 20-incher with a 4 lb. 4 oz. smallmouth bass caught on a leech in Basswood.

Sun
10
Jul

Birdshot and backlashes

It is the Drive Careful time of summer. Little critters, new critters, dumb critters are crossing the roads these days.<BR><BR>A hen grouse who seemed oblivious to traffic stood on the side of the Fernberg Road, eyeing us suspiciously as we approached. She even took a couple of steps toward us as though ready to charge. Had to have some chicks nearby. We walked slowly up to her as she nervously clucked and fidgeted. Then we saw them. A dozen tiny puffs of down the size of golf balls with spindly legs were squirting around through the weeds, yeeping and peeping.<BR><BR>“Now, look here, mama,” we said. “You hustle those young’uns off this blacktop and back into the hills where they’ve got half a chance to grow up. You keep playing around the road and you’re gonna get some of your kids flattened out and maybe you along with them.”<BR><BR>Reluctantly, she moved into the roadside weeds, clucking at her brood.

Sat
09
Jul

Hook and bullet club

Laying in the middle of Highway 21 just south of the transfer station last week was a roadkill deer.<BR><BR>Looking as if at had laid down to rest in the southbound lane, the deer wasn’t a real big traffic hazard but I decided to turn around anyway.<BR><BR>I pulled over, put my emergency blinkers on and grabbed a pair of gloves from underneath the seat so I could pull it off the road.<BR><BR>This was a fawn born a couple of months ago although it still had the white spots along the sides.<BR><BR>Obviously hit by a vehicle, the accident had just occurred and it looked as though the animal had been killed on contact.<BR><BR>The front and rear legs were broken and blood ran from the mouth down the hill.

Fri
08
Jul

Get your line in the water, whopper walleyes awaiting

Somebody must have turned the walleye switch on because a boatload of nice entries came in this week to the North Country Angler fishing contest.<BR><BR>Burntside Lake took the top two spots in a week where there were seven fish that weighed over seven pounds. <BR><BR>Mark Nappa of Ely has been fishing Burntside for many years now and he used that experience to land a 10 lb. 2 oz. walleye that went 32 inches on the scale. Nappa used a leech to land the lunker and entered the fish at the Great Outdoors.<BR><BR>Andrea Luhtanen of Minneapolis used a plain hook and a leech to catch a 30-inch, 9 lb. 14 oz. walleye out of Burntside. Great Outdoors took down the info.<BR><BR>Rob Furnal of Indianolo, IA was also using leeches when he boated an 8 lb. 13 oz. walleye out of White Iron Lake. Spirit of the Wilderness was the registration station.

Mon
04
Jul

Birdshot and backlashes

Once upon a time, about 65 years ago, no serious walleye fisherman ever ventured forth on northern waters without his supply of June Bug Spinners. Indeed, with many fisher-folk, the June Bug Spinner was the only way to fish walleyes. <BR><BR>Some spinners were rigged with a plain hook with a minnow or crawler for bait, some with a strip-on device using a wire which was threaded through the minnow and a double hook attached at the end. A metal sleeve slid down the wire and anchored the minnow in place. <BR><BR>The rig was usually trolled and the spinner would revolve at a moderate speed even with the outboard humming along at a pretty good clip. It was called a June Bug Spinner because the spinner blade was shaped somewhat like a June bug, although June bugs were not aquatic critters, then as now.<BR><BR>First time we used one was at Leech Lake in the Walker area about 1938.

Sun
03
Jul

Hook and bullet club

That’s it. I’ve had enough of summer. I know there’s two months to go but some of us reach our breaking point earlier than others.<BR><BR>Bugs. Rain. Heat. Bugs. Sunburned and bug bit or soaking wet and itching from all the bug bites as the sandflies and mosquitoes feast as if there’s no tomorrow.<BR><BR>This may be a good summer for some things. I know we’re still expecting a banner crop of blueberries, but the bugs are making this a summer to remember. Or for some, to forget.<BR><BR>I reached around in the truck the other day to find some bug dope before going out to cut grass. My choices were Off! in a spray bottle or some enviro-friendly non-DEET stuff.

Sat
02
Jul

Storms slow fishing action but big pike and walleyes gotta eat!

This past week it felt more like August with storm systems rolling through the area, uprooting trees and damaging property around the Ely area.<BR><BR>It went from temps in the mid-90s to a summer cool down with highs only in the 60s. From swim trunks to warm coats, the weather made an about face.<BR><BR>This impacted the fishing results to be sure as anglers were hesitant to head out with thunderstorm watches and warnings waiting for them. Those who were able to go out and return safely found fish, with a change over to leeches as the minnow bite dropped off.<BR><BR>Top fish of the week was a massive 40-inch northern pike caught in Farm Lake that went 20 lbs. on the scale. Angler Harlan Samuels of Warsaw, MO was using ultralight gear but still was able to land the toothy monster. He had a spinner on with 6 lb. test and no leader. Moose Track Adventures took down the registration information.

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