Brute’s Bleat: January 29, 2014


A couple of crappie fishing reports came my way the past week which should make any panfish angler drool.  One was they were biting well and for the most part in the 14- to 16-inch range which brings them to about 2 lbs.  The anglers, Mike Muller and his buddy, Jesse, were using fairly long poles which made catching the crappies sporty. Muller didn’t say what kind of bait they were using, but they were fishing in Florida’s Lake Okeechobee.  This was last Thursday, Muller’s first fishing outing since he chose to abandon his home state again this winter. He said he needed a jacket while on the lake, but the temperature was 73 degrees. They stopped fishing when the 45 fish they caught filled their pail.    .     .    A local crappie report was they are biting on East Maple Lake where it’s possible to catch a limit if you’re in the right spot. (Sorry, that’s all the hint I can give you!)    .     .      .     Another lake that’s been kicking out the crappies is Osakis on the north end.  This angler said with all the  anglers and fish houses out there it looks like a fishing contest is going on.  He had his limit of nice-sized crappies in about two hours while fishing in about 17 feet of water.  So, if the January dog days have been giving you fits, fishing crappies in any of these three spots could give you a different outlook on life.  The fishing activity has picked up off the swimming beach on Maple Lake and I’m assuming it’s by the practice anglers who would like to find a hot spot by Saturday’s annual fishing derby where the Maple Lake Lake Association has another program of fishing and entertainment on tap.  I suspect the vintage snowmobile show will be one of the day’s highlights. I’m excited and I’ve never owned a snowmobile!  Maple Lake’s own Otter Outdoors was among the six ice fishing companies in the Metro Area featured in the Sunday issue of the Star-Tribune business section. The feature was headlined, “Outfitters see gold in all those holes”.  The others were Canvas Craft, Rogers; Clam Corp., Rogers; MarCum Technologies, New Hope; Rapala, Minnetonka; and Vexilar, Bloomington. It was an interesting story as it told about the changes that have taken place over the years, bringing a lot more comfort to a sport that began with the anglers sitting out in the open on five-gallon pails. That newspaper said $260 million was spent on the sport in Minnesota in 2012 and 700,000 Minnesotans say they participate in winter fishing.     .       .      I’ve put angling on hold until we get over this cold spell, but I didn’t forget about fishing entirely and sent in an application for a Wilderness Border Passing Permit for a June trip to Lake of the Woods.    .      .      I’ve been watching the DNR web site for reports of liberalized fishing, called promiscuous fishing while I was growing up, but to date the DNR hasn’t announced any lakes that are freezing out because of lack of oxygen.  With the snow and thick ice it’s bound to happen somewhere in our state. Now if it would freeze out the milfoil it could be a benefit. 
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After blowing out the snow Friday I decided to weather the wind storm inside Sunday afternoon which was doing a number on our driveway.  I knew it would be colder Monday morning and believe me it was when I got started about 6:45 a.m. The wind wasn’t blowing much at that hour, or I might have decided to stay in bed.  The whole process took about an hour and that included two breaks. One for a better pair of gloves and a face mask, both helped in the bone chilling -20 temps; and the other just to take a break.  I’m not so naive to think this will be the last time for plowing this year with February and March still ahead of us, but I hope next time it will be warmer, after all St. Patrick’s Day is only about a month and a half away.      .       .      The cold weather may be keeping snowmobilers off the trails, but they’ll be blowing the carbon out of their carburetors as soon as it warms up.  So far there have been seven fatalities from that sport in Minnesota this winter.  It’s one of those sports that is enjoyed by thousands and thousands of people each year and some accidents can be expected.  It sounds like most of the accidents happen at night with alcohol and speed the main factors, and I’d urge operators to consider moderation in both for safe and enjoyable outings.
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A big thank you to the Wright County Park employees who maintain and groom the county’s trail systems.  Most of my walks with Vanna this winter have been on hard-packed trails in Ney Park that both walkers and skiers can enjoy.