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LOW WATERS

Boaters eager to hit newly thawed lakes and rivers across Minnesota should know that low water conditions at public water access sites may make boat launching more challenging this spring. Low water levels continue to create access problems at many launch ramps, and significant ice damage is still being repaired at some locations.

The DNR and local governments maintain a system of 1,500 public water access sites throughout the state. Since the ice went out, DNR crews have been working to inspect and repair launch ramps, and put the docks in at the DNR-maintained public water access sites- but they haven’t reached all of them yet. This work will be accomplished statewide over the next few weeks and hopefully completed by the May 9 fishing opener.

Winter weather is always a challenge for Minnesota’s public water access sites. As lake ice expands and pushes against the shore during the winter months, it can push and buckle the concrete plank structures like an accordion. This phenomenon, called ” ice jacking,” often leaves the boat ramp unusable.

Suggestions for early spring boat launching include:

Check the ramp for broken planks, and ensure the gravel is firm.

Have hip boots or waders available in case you need to enter the water to help guide the boat and trailer, especially where docks are not yet available.

Lower the motor only after you are sure there is enough clearance.

Watch for free-floating obstructions in the water.

For more information about DNR-maintained public water access sites, or to report damage, visit http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/water_access.

CHEESE STICKS

Ya it’s time to get that smoker going. I have it going pretty much all year long, but with spring here and summer on the way, we need to have that smoker and grill smoking away. I wanted to make some beef sticks again, so this time I put some high temp cheddar cheese in the mix. They turned out great and they didn’t last long. Between my grandkids and my fishing trip they were gone in no time. Check out the Homemade Sausage Page for the whole process and all the pics. Here are a couple of the pics.
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FISHING THE NORTH SHORE

I went up to the North Shore last Thursday to try my luck for some Loopers and Steelhead. Met up with my brother and his friend Joel. Both worked for the Duluth Police Department and are now retired. All of us have fished the North Shore since the early 60’s for steelhead and loopers [kamloops rainbows]. Chilly air greeted us early in the morning even though the sun had come out. As the day progressed, it became warmer, and turned out to be a nice day.

Joel managed to catch a nice 5 pound male looper right away when he arived. Caught it on a small piece or white yarn with a couple of waxies on the hook. This was drifted under a bobber on the edge of the current. My brother and I didn’t get a bite all day, even though we covered a lot of water, stopping at all the streams up to the Split Rock River. Joel also caught a 4 pound male steelhead, which he released. All steelhead have to be released. It was just great being up there, catching a trout is a bonus. Here are some pics of the day:

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Many of the areas we fished were small areas where we normally do well.
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Joel with his nice 5 pound Looper.

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Often time Looper and steeelhead can be caught right near the rivers mouth.

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Larger pools like this one can hold many spawning trout.

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One of many reasons many tourists travel and visit spots on the North Shore. Time to head back soon.

STEELHEAD LOOPER REPORT

As I reported earlier, fishing is picking up on the North Shore with fish coming in the lower North Shore streams to spawn. Rain is still needed however. I will still be reporting conditions as I get reports, however you can also get some great information from the DNR. Here is their latest report.

Update 04/117/15:

Streams along the lower shore remain low and clear. Water temperatures have been in the mid to upper 30’s in the mornings and reaching low 40s by the afternoons. Fishing pressure has been light to moderate. Interviewed anglers have done well this first week, landing 88 steelhead, 23 Kamloops, and 4 coho salmon. Along the middle shore, rivers are at low to moderate flows with water temperatures reaching the low to mid-40s in the afternoons. Fishing pressure has been light with few fish caught.

Interviewed anglers reported catching 2 steelhead and 1 Kamloops [looper]. Along the upper shore, conditions have improved enough within the past few days to allow anglers to begin fishing the rivers near Grand Marais. The medium to large rivers are maintaining mostly moderate flows with moderate turbidity, but the smaller rivers have low flows and some still have some ice coverage. Afternoon water temperatures have ranged from 37-39 degrees. Angling pressure has been light and interviewed anglers have only reported catching one brook trout. Trap totals through April 17th are 158 steelhead and zero Kamloops at the Knife River, and 462 Kamloops and 56 steelhead at the French River. An updated report will be posted on Monday.

This updated report can be seen here http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/areas/fisheries/lakesuperior/management.html or by calling the DNR office at 218-525-0853 and selecting 1 for the updated fishing report.

For those not familiar with the sections of the North Shore often mentioned here is that information:

Three creel census clerks conduct angler unterviews from April through late-May on the following rivers:

LOWER SHORE: Lester, McQuade Harbor/Talmadge River, French, Sucker, and Knife

MIDDLE SHORE: Stewart, Silver, Gooseberry, Split Rock, Beaver, and Baptism

UPPER SHORE: Cross, Temperance, Poplar, Cascade, Devil Track, Kadunce, and Brule

Here is where you can find information on the smelt run: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/areas/fisheries/lakesuperior/smelt.html

NORTHSHORE TROUT UPDATE

As of today April 13, conditions have improved as far as the rivers getting ice free [still some isolated spots]. With the rain yesterday, the rivers are still low, but the water is getting stained somewhat from run-off. My brother had a rainbow on in the Knife River but lost it, so some fish are coming up the streams. Fishing was very slow, and we still need more water flow.

He fished a few other streams with no luck except he did land a small steelhead [about 2 1/2 pounds] and a 12 inch brook trout fishing with spawn bags under a bobber, drifting the steams. Both fish released. He caught these two trout at the Gooseberry River. People are still getting some loopers off shore near river mouth’s and some are out with boats when the weather permits. So we need more rain to get a decent run.

People that have fished for loopers and steelhead over the years know that these run’s are not consistent even under good conditions at times. Normally after a good rain, a good run happens. Timing is everything most of the time. I’ll be probably going up next week rain or no rain. I just want to be there, getting a fish, is a bonus for me. I have fished the north shore since the early 60’s. Never get tired of it. The challenge of trying to be smarter than the trout, and the beauty of the north shore. It will always be that my heart belongs to the Arrowhead and all it has to offer.

LOOPER STEELHEAD REPORT

As of today, April 9th, the Lower North Shore Streams are very low and still have ice in areas of the shorelines. The water is not only low but is running very clear. This makes for slim chances of any decent run of these fine fish any time soon. My brother[Ed] fished the Jaap pool under London Rd, which was open and ice free, for two hours and had no luck at all. There was a couple of other fishermen there to try their luck with the same results.

Driving up the shore he saw the same conditions with low water and ice on the shorelines of the streams. One stream was still locked in ice. The Knife River was very low with ice on some of the shorelines. Most of the areas from the Green House pool up the the Sucker Hole were open to do some fishing but the water was to low and clear to even try. So we need some good rain to get the fish moving.

Shore casting with spoons and fishing with crawlers seems to do some good near river mouth’s and the shorelines. The Lift Bridge pier in Duluth on the Park Point side has anglers catching a few coho’s on crawlers off bottom. However the action is still slow there. We need rain up there and hopefully by the end of next week conditions will pick up. Reinhard

STREAM TROUT OPENER

One of my favorite time’s of the year. Conditions are ripe to give trout fishing a try anywhere on Minnesota’s 3,800 miles of trout streams after fishing opens Saturday, April 18, on inland trout streams statewide. The DNR has purchased more than 38 miles of angling easements since 2009 that grant public access to fishing. In total, the DNR owns 515 miles of trout stream easements, and another 1,228 miles flow through public land such as county, state, or federal forests and parks. Stream conditions should be ideal for fishing this spring.

Trout populations have increased for a number of reasons, including habitat improvements made by the DNR, local governments and agencies, conservation partners like Trout Unlimited, and conservation-minded people. The possession limit for brook, brown and rainbow trout, and splake, is five combined, with not more than one longer than 16 inches. In Lake Superior streams, different regulations exist below posted boundaries, and anglers should check for special regulations on the streams where they plan to fish.

For more information on trout fishing, see http://www.mndnr.gov/fishmn/trout. For information about southeastern Minnesota streams, call the Lanesboro area fisheries office at 507-467-2442, and for information about streams in the rest of the state, call Nerbonne at 651-259-5205. Don’t forget to get a trout stamp.

WOLF ATTACKS COSTLY

Here is an interesting item from KSTP. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture says wolf attacks are becoming a pricey problem. Just ask third-generation Hinckley farmer Nathan Nelson, he says wolves attacked and killed 10 of his calves. “it’s a big problem,” he said. Nelson’s neighbor dealt with a similar situation as did dozens of other farmers mostly up north in cities like Bemidji, Roseau, Grand Rapids and Aitkin.

“Their livestock giets prayed on often, and unfortunately that’s a huge economic impact for that family and that family’s farm,” Minnesota Department of Agriculture Assistant Commissioner Charlie Poster said. The state has a program to help reimburse farmers. The problem is that the price of cattle is way up; right now, a 500-pound calf goes for around $1500.

Just in the first three months of this fiscal year, the state paid out more than $70,000 because of wolf attacks. Multiply that by four to get a rough projection for the whole year, and you get more than $280,000, which is more than double what the state paid for wolf attacks for all of last year. “The value has gone up so much,” Poster said, “we’ve actually exhausted the appropriations.”

Poster says Gov. Mark Dayton wants the wolf depredation fund to double. The Department of Agriculture is also touring Greater Minnesota, teaching farmers like Nelson how to access funds and protect their livestock. “They’re going to continue to eat,” Nelson said of the wolves, “whether it’s deer or our livestock or whatever it is.”

Poster said Minnesota’s wolf depredation fund started in the 1970’s when the Endangered Species Act was passed. He explained that farmers could no longer protect their livestock themselves, so the government agreed to pay for losses caused by wolves. Minnesotans were briefly allowed to hunt gray wolves until late last year. That’s when a federal judge reinstated Endangered Species Act protections for the animal. That’s about three years after wolves were removed from the list.

NORTH SHORE FISHING REPORT

The streams for the most part are still full of ice with open spots here and there. Couple of weeks ago the water run off was on top of the ice, and now the water is all under the ice. The rivers are low right now. We need some good rain to get things going.

There are reports of folks catching some loopers and coho off shore. Seems like there are more coho salmon getting caught than loopers [ Kamloops]. The fish are being caught on spawn bags under bobbers, small looper jigs with a waxie or very small spawn bag with a waxie under a bobber. Coho are also being caught with a simple slip-sinker and inflated crawler rig. This is taking place on the Lower North Shore. I’ll be reporting more in coming days and weeks on the steelhead/looper run. My brother fishes for them almost daily up there. I’ll be making some trips up there also soon. More to come, stay tuned.

TWO ELK SHOT & KILLED

Two bull elk were illegally shot and killed near Grygla in an area that holds Minnesota’s smallest elk herd and has been closed to hunting since 2012, according to the DNR. “Our investigation found that these elk had been shot and left,” said Lt. Pat Znajda, a supervisor with the DNR’s Enforcement Division. “The illegal killing of these bulls chips away at the outdoor heritage valued by law-abiding people in this state.”

Wildlife officials spotted the dead elk in late February on state land while conducting an aerial elk survey. An onsite visit revealed a dead bull and a younger dead bull with spike antlers that were found in thick willow cover. Both animals were frozen and had been dead for some time. DNR conservation officers were called to investigate.

“The discovery of two dead bull elk is disturbing,” said John Williams, DNR northwest region wildlife manager. “These bulls represented about 10 percent of the known Grygla herd. Due to the decline of this herd, the causes of which are unknown, there has not been a hunting season since fall of 2012.” There are three distinct elk herds in northwestern Minnesota, which comprise the state’s entire elk population. The Grygla herd has declined in recent years and is currently estimated at 18 elk. Down from the 20 counted last year and 28 counted in 2013.

Elk are managed to maintain a free-ranging, wild population in far northwestern Minnesota. These herds afford recreational and economic opportunities, including wildlife watching and hunting seasons when their populations can sustain a hunt. The DNR is in the process of updating a strategic management plan for elk, which will include a public input process before it is finalized. The plan will address population goals, landowner concerns about crop damage, and opportunities to hunt and view elk.

Anyone with information about the illegal shooting of the two bulls or the suspicious death of a bull elk in the Grygla area in fall of 2013 is urged to call the 24-hour, toll-free Turn In Poachers [TIP] hotline at 800-652-9093. Cell phone users can dial #TIP. They can also contact Znajda at 218-242-1383. For more information on Minnesota’s elk management, visit http://www.mndnr.gov/hunting/elk.

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