Brad Dokken / Forum News Service
CROOKSTON, Minn. -- It’s a quiet Monday afternoon at Ceason’s Bait & Tackle, and one of the regulars is seated at the counter shooting the breeze with owners Myron and Sue Kaiser. Occasional shoppers stop in and browse the aisles, perhaps to snap up a bait bucket and some much-needed tackle or just to see what’s there. Pretty much like every other Monday afternoon at Ceason’s Bait & Tackle.
GRAND FORKS -- Deer and other wildlife continue to weather the winter of 2018-19 fairly well in North Dakota and Minnesota, but that could change if cold and snowy conditions persist through March and into April, wildlife managers say. “It’s a traditional Minnesota winter -- the problem is we’ve gotten used to the other ones,” said John Williams, northwest region wildlife manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Bemidji.
The brutal weather of the past couple of weeks has reminded me how much easier it is these days to postpone outdoors excursions until conditions improve. Time was, that rarely happened; I usually went anyway. No more. I’ve written about this in the past, but the most extreme example of braving the elements I’ve experienced occurred Jan. 25, 1987, when two of us spent the day ice fishing on Lake of the Woods.
LAKE OF THE WOODS, Minn. -- I fished in a wheeled ice fishing house for the first time last winter, but I’d never stayed in one until last Sunday night on Lake of the Woods. The mercury dipped into the -25 F range, but fortunately, the furnace and the generator cooperated, and the house was warm and comfortable.
DEVILS LAKE, N.D. -- This year’s Devils Lake Volunteer Fire Department Ice Fishing Tournament features a new cast of organizers, but participants in North Dakota’s largest ice fishing event won’t notice any difference. The 35th annual tournament is set for 1 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, on Six-Mile Bay of Devils Lake. And as usual, anyone who doesn’t have one of the 22,500 tickets available for the event is pretty much out of luck.
DEVILS LAKE, N.D. -- On the misery scale, this cold, blustery Tuesday in January had all the makings of a solid 8, with 10 being the worst. That wasn’t an issue for Tom Rost. As wind whipped the icy horizon into a snowy froth and the mercury plummeted, Rost was seated at the helm of a SnoBear -- think of it as a mobile fish house on tracks -- watching his electronics while he tried to coax finicky fish into biting. No jacket, no gloves, no need. The thermostat was set at a comfortable 70 degrees.
One of the many attractions of spending time outdoors is the sense of the unknown, the anticipation of what the day might bring. You might not catch the biggest fish of your life or enjoy the best day of hunting you’ve ever experienced, but then again, you might. You just never know. I thought about that the other day while recalling some of the more memorable outdoor encounters I’ve experienced over the years, both things that have happened to me personally, and as an observer sharing in someone else’s success.
Sarah Strommen is the new commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, replacing Tom Landwehr, who had been at the DNR helm since 2011. A St. Paul native, Strommen, 46, was appointed by Gov. Tim Walz to oversee a DNR staff of about 2,700 full-time employees with a budget of $1.1 billion for the 2018-19 biennium.
BAUDETTE, Minn. — Walleye and sauger populations in Lake of the Woods continue to do well, although walleye numbers are slightly below long-term averages since 2002, results from a September fish population survey show. According to Brett Nelson, large lake biologist for the Department of Natural Resources in Baudette, the annual fall gillnet survey yielded an average of 15.25 walleyes per net, down from the long-term average of 17. Saugers, at 26 per net, were up from the long-term average of 20.6, Nelson said.
The inaugural “Walleye Wars” between tourism officials on Lake of the Woods and Devils Lake is in the books, and the trophy went to … Lake of the Woods. Billed as a celebration of ice fishing and a celebration of two very good lakes, the final fish count in Thursday’s event -- which pitted Joe Henry of Lake of the Woods Tourism against Tanner Cherney of the Devils Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau -- was 71 fish for Lake of the Woods and 14 fish for Devils Lake.