Outdoors

Mon
24
Jan

Birdshot and backlashes

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.

Mon
24
Jan

Hook and Bullet Club - SNOW

Snow. More snow. Too much snow?<BR><BR>By Friday even the hardiest winter enthusiasts were asking the question of when will the snow stop? <BR><BR>After not having regular snowfall amounts for seven years, the Ely area has been inundated with snow so far this year. And that was not expected.<BR><BR>We went through the 2004 firearms deer season with hardly a flake in the air. Even into December there was rain where there should have been snow.<BR><BR>But within the last month we’ve been dumped on repeatedly. Last week Finland (the village down Highway 1, not the country) received 20 inches of lake effect snow. <BR><BR>When you can measure snowfall in feet, that’s a lot of snow. We have two plus feet of snow on the ground around here, meaning our winter severity index could be through the roof by the end of the winter.

Mon
17
Jan

Ice fishing can warm the heart

Sometime this winter, when my wife is in the mood for walleye, I will slip fillets from the fridge, dip them in egg, dredge them in special seasoning, and plop them in a pan of spitting-hot melted butter and oil.<BR><BR>Then I’ll stand guard, spatula at the ready, as they brown on the outside, turn flaky white on the inside, and proffer an aroma that could only smell sweeter if it rose from a pan atop a campfire on some distant shore.<BR><BR>Next, I’ll pour two glasses of wine. Ferry the remaining fare to the table. And as we dine, the world will be fine. It always is when the fish on your fork comes from a hole in the ice rather than a freezer at the supermarket.<BR><BR>As we savor our meal, I will relish the fishing trip too. This will be especially true if our repast begat from a journey to Joe’s. Joe is my ice-fishing buddy. He lives on the north shore of Mille Lacs Lake. We have fished together for years.

Mon
17
Jan

Birdshot and backlashes - Trout fishing tips

We have now entered the serious time of the winter fishing season - trout. <BR><BR>Admittedly, the trout season has been open for two weeks in lakes totally within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, but because of slush, frigidity, the National Football League and other impediments, this portion of the ice fishing season has been sadly neglected. No more. On Saturday, Jan. 15, trout fishing became legal in all the lakes and the Frost Bite Brigade is out initiating an invasion far and wide.<BR><BR>The major lake trout waters - Snowbank Lake and Burntside Lake - are the sites of numerous fish houses, portable and semipermanent. In addition, various groups and individuals are on Miners Lake, Tofte and various other frozen lakes containing brook and rainbow trout.<BR><BR>We have received a number of requests from would-be ice anglers for information on how to engage in such activity.

Mon
17
Jan

Hook and Bullet Club - Snowmobile safety

We finished the youth snowmobile safety course on Saturday morning with 21 students taking the driving portion of the class.<BR><BR>A course was set up near the Longbranch and the kids each took their turn explaining what they needed to check before they went for a ride, showing the instructors what they learned.<BR><BR>Everybody passed and we hope they will all become safe riders and drivers out on the trails. <BR><BR>This was a good group of kids but as usual there were some interesting moments in class such as when one pointed out his uncle had died in a snowmobile accident a few years ago. <BR><BR>We talk about a lot of things during the week-long class session. Hypothermia, thin ice, alcohol, first aid and winter survival are parts of the course.<BR><BR>In addition to instructors teaching, there are a number of videos and an excellent book from the DNR.

Mon
10
Jan

Hook and Bullet Club - Cold weather

The thermometers in the Ely area were stuck at -30 degrees for several nights and then we got the big one: -40 degrees. That just about did it for a lot of people.<BR><BR>If you’re going to put down roots in Ely, MN you better enjoy the winter months or you’re in for a rough time.<BR><BR>But even the hardiest of folks draw a line in the ice somewhere. Last week the -40 degrees reading was more than a line, it provided some interesting side effects.<BR><BR>First we had a temperature inversion where smoke from chimneys hits a ceiling about 40 feet off the ground and just stays there. <BR><BR>In the dark this created what our press operator Terry termed “northern lights coming out of the ground.” <BR><BR>Street lights and automobile lights streaming up through the frozen air took on new colors and provided for a rare sight.<BR><BR>Of course there are some familiar sights when we hit a cold snap like this.

Mon
10
Jan

Birdshot and backlashes

NOODLE AND DOODLE-SOCK<BR><BR>Now there you have a couple of terms not exactly familiar to North Country fisher-folk. There have been some discussion of noodling on TV and in the printed press in recent weeks because it is a controversial item among fish managers as well as anglers.<BR><BR>Noodling is legal in a lot of southern states and legal in Minnesota only in regard to rough fish like carp or suckers. But down south it is one of the more popular methods of harvesting big catfish.<BR><BR>Noodling is done this-a-way: In warm weather, fishermen wade along the shore feeling underwater for holes in the banks. There are a number of critters that make holes in muddy banks and catfish seem to like to explore these places. When a wading fishermen finds a hole, he slides in his hand slowly to see if he can locate a catfish.

Wed
05
Jan

Snow conditions good on area trails

In general, good to excellent conditions can be found along ski and snowmobile trails in the northern region of the state. Please call ahead for the most current trail conditions. <BR><BR>Please be aware that snowmobiles with studs are not allowed on most paved state and public trails. Snowmobiles not registered in the state of Minnesota must obtain a $16 trail use permit. If you have further questions, please contact the Department of Natural Resources, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 1-888-646-6367. You may also order state stickers and permits at 1-888-665-4236, or online at http://www.wildlifelicense.com/mn/index.html. <BR><BR>NORTHEASTERN REGION <BR><BR>N of Hibbing<BR><BR>McCarthy Beach State Park is covered in 8 inches of snow after receiving 6 inches of new snow last weekend.

Mon
03
Jan

Birdshot and backlashes - ski trails

One of the best kept secrets involving ski areas is the new cross country trail system on the Wilderness Golf Course at Fortune Bay. There has been, for a couple of years, talk among Bois Forte tribal elders that a ski complex would be instituted when the golf course became a reality. This summer, the golf course was in operation and this winter the ski trails opened up.<BR><BR>We were out there the day after Christmas and found the trails excellent. The problem was finding where the trails started. We were informed at the casino that the ski trails originated at the clubhouse for the golf course. OK, so where is the clubhouse. <BR><BR>There is a sign on the road leading to the casino that says the golf operation lies ahead. But ahead where? It took some searching, but we finally discovered that the road which bisects the main parking lot and goes to the rear of the casino ends up at the golf course clubhouse.

Sun
02
Jan

Hook and bullet club - snowmobiling

From our office on Sheridan Street I can hear when there are a lot of snowmobilers in town. The gas station across the street is a popular spot for sleds to fill up and you can usually hear the machines driving up to the pumps.<BR><BR>It’s a reminder to me of the economic impact snowmobilers make as part of our winter tourism economy. That’s a good thing because when there’s no snow, cash registers at our hotels, restaurants, gas stations and resorts don’t ring as much.<BR><BR>But snowmobiling is different than other forms of recreation. The sport requires the massive participation of clubs to maintain and groom trails. There are no other forms of recreation as demanding of volunteers as snowmobiling.

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