Lake Superior paddleboarder urges caution

Due to strong winds, stand-up paddleboarder Jared Munch has revised his itinerary for this final day’s paddle of his circumnavigation of Lake Superior.

Here’s the plan:

At 1 p.m., he’ll depart from the University of Minnesota Duluth aquatic center on the Duluth-Superior harbor, near Minnesota Avenue and 15th Street.
At 1:30 p.m., he plans to paddle from the harbor, through the Duluth Ship Canal, onto Lake Superior.
At 2 p.m., he plans to be on the beach at Endion Station to greet the media and the public.
He’ll depart from that beach and paddle the Duluth shoreline to the mouth of the Lester River.

Between 4 and 5 p.m., he plans to reach the mouth of the Lester River.

Munch has said he invites others to paddle the final few miles with him, but due to today’s high and gusty winds, Munch encourages only experienced paddlers with proper safety gear to join him on his final stretch.

Day’s end

A sailboat rests in Superior Bay at sunset on Saturday evening. (Sam Cook photo)

A sailboat rests in Superior Bay at sunset on Saturday evening. (Sam Cook photo)

My wife and I were leaving the beach at Park Point on Saturday night when I saw the sunset over Superior Bay. Grabbed a quick iPhone shot of it. Nice place, Duluth.

Canada goose hunting opens Aug. 8 in western Minnesota

Hunters can hunt Canada geese in west-central Minnesota from Aug. 8 through Aug. 23, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Hunters are allowed to shoot up to 10 Canada geese per day, but there is no limit to the number of Canada geese a hunter can possess.

t10.02.2014 -- Sam Cook -- cookGEESE1005c1 -- In the pre-dawn darkness Thursday morning, Reed Ylitalo of Grand Rapids places a Canada goose decoy in a field of wheat stubble near Cohasset before a morning of goose hunting. Ylitalo and his dad, Tom Ylitalo, put out six dozen decoys and two dozen goose silhouettes to attract geese.

Reed Ylitalo of Grand Rapids places a Canada goose decoy in a field of wheat stubble before a morning of goose hunting.

“The state’s Canada goose population remains high, and the August management action is one way to control goose numbers,” said Steve Cordts, waterfowl specialist for the DNR. “This harvest helps limit the amount of damage the birds cause to crops in the western portion of the state.”

The August goose harvest will open only in the intensive harvest zone in west-central Minnesota, with shooting hours from a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset. A small game hunting license, special goose permit and state waterfowl stamp are required. A federal waterfowl stamp is not needed; however, it is required to hunt geese and other waterfowl beginning in September.

This is the third year the DNR has held an August goose management action.

“Last August, about 5,500 hunters harvested about 21,000 Canada geese, compared to 24,000 in 2013,” Cordts said. “Factors like weather and progress of small grain harvest tends to affect hunter success.”

The DNR in August will announce details of fall waterfowl seasons, including the September Canada goose season that runs from Sept. 5 through Sept. 22, and the regular Canada goose seasons that tentatively begin Sept. 26.

Climbing rendezvous at Ely’s Peak on Saturday

The Duluth Climbers Coalition will hold a 2015 Mid-Summer Climbing Rendezvous on Saturday at Ely’s Peak. The event is free, open to the public and open to climbers of all skill levels and all ages (including kids).  Equipment and free instruction will be provided by the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Recreational Sports Outdoor Program. Staff from Vertical Endeavors Indoor Climbing Facility and the College of St. Scholastica’s Outdoor Pursuit Program will also be available to ensure safe climbing.

From Duluth, drive south on I-35 and take Midway Road exit. Turn left and go 2.2 miles south on Midway to parking lot on left. It’s a ¼-mile hike to Ely’s Peak. It’s a wilderness setting — no bathroom facilities.

Climbing will happen from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., followed by food and drink for purchase from 3 to 6 p.m. at Spirit Mountain’s Grand Avenue Chalet.

Minnesota vets with 100 percent disability can get permanent hunting card

Minnesota resident veterans with 100 percent service-connected permanent disability can apply for a free permanent card that allows them to receive a free small game and either-sex deer hunting license each year.

“Prior to 2014, disabled veterans needed to bring their paperwork to the license agent every year,” said Steve Michaels, licensing program director for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Now, they’ll need their paperwork to apply one time. Once the card is issued, disabled veterans can simply present the permanent card to receive a license.”

Obtaining the free permanent card is optional. Veterans may still use their paperwork to obtain the free licenses. Minnesota resident military veterans with 100 percent service-connected permanent disability, as defined by the U.S. Veterans Administration, may obtain an application online here or call toll free (877) 348-0498.

Minnesota walleye stocking on par with recent years

Walleye anglers across Minnesota will benefit from another year of walleye stocking by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Aaron Murphy of Cohasset displays a 23-inch walleye he caught on Cut Foot Sioux Lake north of Deer River during the 2014 Minnesota fishing opener Saturday morning. (News Tribune file)

Aaron Murphy of Cohasset displays a 23-inch walleye he caught on Cut Foot Sioux Lake north of Deer River during the 2014 Minnesota fishing opener Saturday morning.
(News Tribune file)

This year, fisheries officials took more than 582 million eggs, close to the 10-year average, according to the DNR. Those eggs were raised to so-called fry stage, tiny fish just beyond the egg stage. About 115 million of those fry are now being reared in 286 rearing ponds and will be stocked as fingerlings. About 296 million fry will be stocked in 272 lakes.

Here are some walleye stocking facts:

Length of a walleye fry — about 1/3-inch.
Length of a walleye fingerling — 4 to 6 inches.
Lakes stocked with walleye (each lake usually every other year) — about 1,050, all over the state.
Lakes where, without any stocking, anglers can still catch walleye: 260, mostly in the northern half of the state.
Estimated percentage of walleye harvested that result from natural reproduction — 85 percent, with about half from popular walleye lakes like Lake of the Woods, Leech, Red and Winnibigoshish.
For stocking information about individual lakes, enter the lake name on LakeFinder at the DNR Fish Minnesota page, www.mndnr.gov/fishmn.

 

Minnesota mallard numbers down, other species up

Minnesota’s breeding mallard population counts are down from last year, but other species saw increases, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced today.

Each year, the department conducts spring waterfowl surveys across the state. This year’s mallard breeding population was estimated at 206,000, which is 20 percent below last year’s estimate of 257,000 breeding mallards, 17 percent below the recent 10-year average and 10 percent above the long-term average measured since 1968.

The blue-winged teal population is up 66 percent at 169,000, compared to the 2014 estimate of 102,000, but the population remains 21 percent below the long-term average of 212,000.

The combined populations of other ducks, such as ring-necked ducks, wood ducks, gadwalls, northern shovelers, canvasbacks and redheads was 149,000, which is 29 percent higher than last year and 16 percent below the long-term average.

The estimate of total duck abundance (excluding scaup) was 524,000, similar to last year’s estimate of 474,000 ducks.

The continental waterfowl population estimates will be released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service later this summer and will provide an indicator of what hunters can expect this fall.

This year’s Canada goose population in Minnesota was estimated at 250,000, which was similar to last year’s estimate of 244,000 geese.

Solitude, good fishing part of this wilderness canoe trip

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Scott Neustel of Duluth plays a 40-inch northern pike on a mid-June canoe trip to Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park. He landed and released the fish. (Sam Cook photo)

Six of us spent eight days in Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park in mid-June, fishing for walleyes, lake trout and northern pike. Surprisingly, mosquitoes and blackflies were almost absent. Fishing was excellent at times, challenging at other times. Walleyes were shallow, hungry for the soft plastic worms and minnows we offered them. We caught walleyes up to 28 inches long and plenty of eaters, too. We trolled from 50 to 70 feet for lake trout and caught quite a few, the longest 32 inches and several from 28 to 30 inches.

The 1.2-million-acre wilderness park is lightly traveled. We saw few other people in our eight days there. Portages were challenging, as always, but the effort was rewarded with solitude and good fishing. Look for a complete story on our trip in Sunday’s Duluth News Tribune.

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Wayne Bogen of Duluth called this “Thanksgiving dinner” on the trail in Quetico Park last week. Fresh walleye fried by Larry Riley, wild rice, mashed potatoes, chicken in gravy. (Sam Cook photo)

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Larry Riley and Terry Christensen leave camp for a couple of hours of lake trout fishing on a morning in Quetico Provincial Park. (Sam Cook photo)

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Larry Riley of Sarasota, Fla., lifts a 29-inch lake trout from the water on a lake in Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park. (Sam Cook photo)

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Campers relax during dinner on a sand beach in Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park last week. (Sam Cook photo)

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Larry Riley, formerly of Duluth and now of Sarasota, Fla, holds a nice stringer of walleyes after an afternoon of fishing on a lake in Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park. (Sam Cook photo)

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Larry Riley of Sarasota, Fla., puts the finishing touches on a batch of walleye fillets on a June evening in Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park. (Sam Cook photo)

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Scott Neustel of Duluth carries his canoe through a muddy portage in Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park in mid-June. (Sam Cook photo)

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Suppertime, and the walleye fillets are ready for campers in Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park. (Sam Cook photo)

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Ankle deep in water, Duluth’s Clint Moen holds a 39-inch northern pike he caught on a lake in Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park. Moen had been fishing from a canoe, but climbed out near shore to land the pike. (Sam Cook photo)

 

Hartley Nature Center seeking Kickstarter funds for ‘nature playscape’

Hartley Nature Center in Duluth has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10,000 for a “nature playscape” at Hartley Park. People can contribute to the campaign through July 3, and it’s an all-or-nothing proposition — the nature center receives either $10,000 or nothing. Already, contributions have topped $3,000.

What’s a “nature playscape?” Here’s how the nature center describes it: “In contrast to traditional playgrounds made of plastic or metal equipment, Nature Playscapes use pathways, trees, open areas, sand, water, shrubs and seasonal changes to allow children to learn with their whole bodies what the world is made of. Kids dig, explore, experiment with water and build with sticks. They get dirty and — most importantly — get comfortable in the outdoors.”
To contribute, go to kickstarter.com and search “Hartley Nature Center.”

Spirit Mountain biking trail a national finalist — voting underway now

The competition has begun.

Duluth is one of three finalists in a national online competition for a $100,000 mountain bike trail grant, courtesy of Bell Helmets.

Duluth, representing our nation’s central region, will vie against West Coast finalist Mariposa, Calif., and East Coast finalist Knoxville, Tenn.

The Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores — called COGGS for short — proposes to use the grant funds to help build out the Spirit Mountain Bike Park, and Duluth Mayor Don Ness has pledged $50,000 in additional city funding if the group wins the Bell grant.

In the semifinal round, Duluth beat out two projects proposed in New Mexico — one in Gallup and another in Ruidoso.

The online voting in the final round began today and will run through June 4. Only the top vote-getter will receive the $100,000 grant.

Vote here.