Brute’s Bleat: January 1, 2014


Anna and I enjoyed a meal of fresh sunfish which we caught on Christmas Day when we ventured out on Rock Lake.  It was the usual thing, catch and release until you had some that were fairly respectable. They seemed to be biting better when we began fishing, about 10:30 a.m., and tapered off at noon. We were using wax worms.     .      .      The anglers on Rock seemed to be moving  off one of the favorite spots, north of the access, which tells me the bite there has tapered off.  I noticed some deer tracks (small deer) on the trails in Ney Park recently and on Thursday there was a rooster pheasant on the township road down the hill from Jerry Carlson’s residence. And the same afternoon I was west-bound out of Buffalo and noticed a flock of five or six pheasants winging their way over Hwy. 55 about 3:30 p.m. heading for the Lake Sullivan cattails where they apparently like to roost. They seem to gather into flocks this time of the year and I assume they liked the weekend warm-up as much as humans do.     .       .        Mike Muller gave me a heads-up on a recent purchase of over 600 acres off State Hwy. 24 north of Annandale by the Wright County Pheasants Forever Chapter. He said funding was done in cooperation with Lessard Legacy Amendment money through the DNR.     .      .      
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Saturday’s warm temps brought out the anglers to local lakes and I decided to give Rock Lake another try for some larger sunfish. It wasn’t the best choice I’ve made, but between Anna and I  we sorted out enough for another meal.  They seemed to bite the best in the morning. The nice thing about stopping with just a meal is filleting them doesn’t take very long.     .      .      Rumor has it that a six-pound walleye was caught on Maple Lake recently and that was enough to make my mouth water.     .      .     Apparently perch anglers have found Big Stone Lake one of Minnesota’s hot spots for that specie. Tlhe Outdoor News gave that lake a plug when staff writer Glen Schmidt used this headline, “No longer a secret: Perch bite along Minnesota-South Dakota border.” He went on to tell about how that lake has always been a good perch lake, but in recent years the size of the perch has improved dramatically. They can run as large as 12 inches and he showed Ortonville bait dealer Artlie Arntd holding one in each hand with others littering the ice.  Area fisheries supervisor, Norm Haukos, with the DNR, also spoke highly about the perch in Big Stone likening it to Leech Lake. He said in the prime years of perch fishing the fall gill net assessments would produce about 100 perch per net. Two years ago on Big Stone, fall netting produced the highest numbers of 8-inch perch ever recorded, 256 per net. The limit is 15 per day and 30 in possession. The nice part about perch angling on Big Stone, according to Arndt, is “a typical day on Big Stone involves catching beteween 60 and 100 perch per angler. About 30 percent of those fish fall between 10 and 12 inches, with a good number of perch just under 10 inches.” He went on to say he anticipates the bite to continue all winter. If that doesn’t get your adrenalin flowing, I don’t know what will! 
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Usually it’s March before we get 46-degree weather like we had on Saturday, but people’s habits haven’t changed.  We noticed two fellows in short-sleeved shirts walking in the Cub parking lot  that afternoon.  Fifty-degree swings like that are unusual for Minnesota at this time of the year.  I’m putting off taking downs the outside holiday lights this year until the weather mellows.
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This will be the final Messenger for 2013 and I extend my best wishes to all those faithful subscribers who each week look forward to read about what’s happening in Maple Lake.  My thanks to the publishers, Ed and Michele Pawlenty, for keeping me on the staff and, God willing, I’ll continue to hammer out this column each week.