How good has the lake trout fishing been lately on Lake Superior? We’ll have a story and more photos on Sunday in the Outdoors pages of the Duluth News Tribune.
The Duluth XC Ski Club holds its 10th annual Tour Duluth on Saturday, March 8. The event is a celebration of skiing in which participants ski as many of Duluth’s cross-country ski trails as they wish.
There’s no fee for the event, but a Minnesota Ski Pass is required for most of the trails.
After the event, skiers will gather for a dinner at Hartley Nature Center provided by Duluth Grill and the Thirsty Pagan. That’s free for Duluth XC members and $8 for guests ($5 for youth 5-12).
Look here for complete details.
The Arrowhead Fly Fishers Club will hold a Casting Rendezvous from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday 8 at the College of St. Scholastica Burns Wellness Center. The event is free and open to the public. The club urges anglers to come in and get lessons from a certified casting instructor or just practice casting to get ready for spring. The club will have rods to use if you don’t have one.
Erika Rivers will be appointed director of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Parks and Trails Division when current director Courtland Nelson retires in April, according to a DNR news release.
Rivers, 41, was appointed assistant DNR commissioner in 2011 by DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. She currently oversees three divisions for the commissioner’s office: Parks and Trails, Fish and Wildlife, and Enforcement.
Before her work in the commissioner’s office, she served the agency for seven years in northern Minnesota in various planning and outreach roles. She managed the master plan for Minnesota’s newest state park on Lake Vermilion.
The Parks and Trails Division manages 76 state parks and recreation areas, 62 state forest campgrounds and day use areas and thousands of miles of state trails.
Today’s conservation officer reports from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources were loaded with comments about how much slush is on lakes across northern Minnesota. Many officers noted that conditions had deteriorated since the big snow about 10 days ago.
Here’s the entry from conservation officer Marty Stage of Ely in today’s posting:
CO Marty Stage (Ely) ran the lakes checking for fish houses in peril and seeing how bad the lakes were. There were places beyond description. It’s bad and be careful. The trails are fantastic, but beware of creeks and lakes. There is so much snow on the ice that it is like the officer experienced with “overflow” on the rivers in the Alaskan arctic. After being stuck many times and being soaked from the slush, the officer can’t stress enough to travel in groups and stay away from the back bays and other usual bad spots. If you do go off trail, bring a shovel, rubber boots, extra gloves and a long rope.
Many officers also urged ice anglers to get an early start on removing fishing shelters from lakes before the March 17 deadline on inland lakes in northern Minnesota. With this year’s deep snow, it’s going to be more difficult than usual to remove fishing shelters.
As a supplemental deer feeding effort gets under way this week in Northeastern Minnesota, some people may be wondering why feeding is not allowed in deer permit areas 117 and 118 in the Ely area and near or including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Snow depths in that region are at 36 inches, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. That’s the deepest snow currently on the ground in the state.
But that area is also part of Minnesota’s primary moose range, so the DNR opts not to allow supplemental feeding of deer through a formal effort such as this year’s, which could begin this week.
“That’s because it’s moose range, and our moose plan indicates we’d try to seek a ban on recreational deer feeding,” said Steve Merchant, DNR wildlife program manager. “This (supplemental deer feeding) fits in that same vein.
“One thing we try to do is maintain low deer numbers in moose range. That’s because moose are susceptible to a parasite called brainworm that is commonly found in deer. It doesn’t affect deer. Bit it kills moose. At higher deer densities, that parasite is more prevalent.”
According to the state’s moose management plan, the DNR tries to keep deer densities at or below 10 deer per square mile in primary moose range.
No ban on recreational feeding by individuals is currently in place in the primary moose range.
Supplemental feeding of deer was authorized by the DNR last month, and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association is coordinating the purchase of and distribution of deer feed. A total of $170,000 has been allocated for the feeding effort. The money comes from a 50-cent surcharge on each deer license sold.
Several new regulations are in place for Minnesota’s 2014 fishing season. The new regulations became effective Saturday, when the 2014 fishing licenses went into effect.
Among the regulation changes that affect anglers in Northeastern Minnesota are these:
- New or modified experimental or special regulations are now in effect on Leech Lake and Mukooda Lake. On Leech Lake, the walleye slot limit has been relaxed. The new slot limit requires that all walleyes from 20 to 26 inches be immediately released. (The former slot included walleyes from 18 to 26 inches.) One walleye longer than 26 inches is allowed in a possession limit. The bag limit remains at 4
On Mukooda Lake, north of Crane Lake, lake trout fishing is catch-and-release only.
- Trout and salmon from Lake Superior and its tributaries must be transported with head and tail intact.
- Several waters have been added to the list of infested waters. Among them are Fall Lake near Ely; the Bowstring River from Sand Lake downstream to Rice Lake in Itasca County; Sand Lake (Itasca County); Little Sand Lake (Itasca County); Rice Lake (Itasca County); Birds Eye Lake (Itasca County); Portage Lake (Itasca County); Shagawa Lake near Ely; Trout Lake (Cook County); and Wabanica Creek (Lake of the Woods County).
- A definition for culling (or sorting) of fish has been added. See page 18 of the regulations synopsis. Culling is the act of replacing one fish with another fish.
- There’s an updated list of lakes that ban northern pike spearing on page 69 of the regulations synopsis.
For a complete listing of regulations changes, go to page 19 of the regulations synopsis.
If you’re headed for the lakes this weekend, anticipate less than ideal conditions. In the past two days, I’ve spoken to an Ely dog musher, a Grand Marais conservation officer with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and others who say lakes are not in good shape. Expect deep snow — surprise — and areas of slush. Since last week’s heavy snow, slush seems to have come back on many lakes. In some cases, that slush is deep.
Superior National Forest officials issued a similar warning this afternoon.
“Outdoor enthusiasts need to be aware that, on some lakes, beneath several inches of fluffy white (snow), lying on top of clear ice, there may be a thick layer of slush and/or crumbling ice,” the Forest Service said in a prepared statement. “Local rescue crews have been responding to numerous emergency calls where snowmobilers, snowshoers, even skiers are getting stuck in this frozen mixture. With the extreme cold, this can be life-threatening, especially in remote areas where help may be far away.”
Darin Fagerman, a DNR conservation officer in Grand Marais, was lake trout fishing recently at the end of the Gunflint Trail recently and encountered a lot of slush. Some of the group’s snowmobiles got stuck.
If you recall the story I wrote earlier this month about a Crane Lake man who caught a potential ice-fishing world record lake trout, you might want to read the story the Duluth News Tribune posted here tonight.
Two more deer permit areas have been added to the list of areas eligible for deer feeding in coming weeks. Permit area 199, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reservation, was added effective today. Band and DNR officials had been conferring to determine whether the reservation should be included in the feeding zone.
The Fond du Lac Reservation Business Committee approved emergency deer feeding in area 199 with the provision that distribution of feed and coordination of volunteers for the unit be handled through the band’s Resource Management Division.
“Our staff will be doing some of the feeding on 199, but if nontribal members also want to volunteer to help feed in 199 they are welcome to, provided their efforts are coordinated through our Division,” said Mike Schrage, wildlife biologist for the band.
Also, permit area 176 north of Chisholm and Virginia has been added.
The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, which will coordinate the feeding, hopes to receive bids from feed producers any day and perhaps award bids by the end of the week, said Jenny Foley, grant coordinator at MDHA.
“We’re still trying to shoot for feeding next week,” Foley said.
MDHA, with the help of DNR wildlife officials, its members and other individuals, has identified nearly 200 areas where deer are known to be concentrating, Foley said. Individuals on snowmobiles already have begun breaking trails to the areas where deer are concentrated, she said.
The DNR has recommended to MDHA that feeding be done twice a week in areas where deer are gathered, Foley said.