Brute’s Bleat: February 12, 2014


There’s a lot being said about the plight of the walleyes in Mille Lacs Lake recently with some dire predictions that it could follow in the footsteps of Red Lake if something isn’t done to bring back walleye fishing to what it used to be.  I’m not a fish biologist and I don’t have any ideas about a sure fix for that lake which has been one of Minnesota’s premier walleye lakes. The little knowledge that I do have is from my experiences fishing on Lake of the Woods for the past 40 years. While that lake is known for its population of walleyes, both large and small, it wasn’t always that way. I fished that lake after I was discharged from the army in 1955 with my dad and an uncle from Crookston. We fished on the Minnesota side out from Morris Point in the early part of the season and I nailed a 10-pounder and that told me there were big walleyes in that lake. My late father-in-law, Henry Wieck, introduced me to fishing out of the Northwest Angle about 40 years ago and we would occasionally catch a large fish, but more often only those that fit through the fishermen’s nets.  Henry referred to them as cookie-cutter size, meaning they were all pretty much identical in size. Eventually the netting rights to the Minnesota side of the lake were bought out from permit holders. Netting is still in operation on the Canada side by the natives who elect to live on some of the islands that dot that huge lake.  We began noticing we were catching larger fish several years after the netting stopped  and it has been good for us ever since.  The only bother now are the mayflies which can raise havoc with the bite while  they are hatching.  I’m convinced that less nets mean more and larger fish for the anglers and I’m thinking that would be the place to start on Mille Lacs. It would be a hard sell to convince the Native Americans to join forces, but in the long haul it could benefit both the netters and the anglers. Another good idea that has been suggested would be to use barbless hooks, especially if the slot sizes remain intact and fish need to be released.  I’m thinking of suggesting that to our group this June at Lake of the Woods where we do a fair amount of catch-and-release.  It’ll be interesting to see what the DNR comes up with in the coming weeks for Mille Lacs.   .      .      .     locally I’m hearing good reports coming off of Pelican Lake, especially if you’re fishing Northerns. Catches of sunfish and crappies sound good as far as numbers go, but size can be questionable.   .    .    my Florida source, Mike Muller, was out last week and commented they had good fishing until a rain shower forced them off the lake. They had 20 crappies in the 14- to 15-inch range, two channel cats, two sunfish and a couple of bass (he’s a numbers guy) by 11:30 a.m.  They were using artificial bait. He said the lake (Okeechobee) was being inundated by the pro bass fishermen who were there doing a little pre-tournament fishing for the big pro-am affair set for that weekend which paid out $100,000 for first place. He figured both George Palmer and I would be there representing George’s former bank, Security State, as well as Joe Rassat and Andy Segner, from Rassat Outdoors. He didn’t offer to pay our entry fee!     .      .      .
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Local coyote hunter, Rich Ordorff, and three of his associates were out in North Dakota and enjoyed a great hunt, harvesting 30 coyotes. Their best day was Wednesday when they bagged 19 animals. I’m sure the ranchers in the areas they hunt are pleased to hear of those kinds of results as well as the sports people who feel the coyote is detrimental to the population of upland game birds as well as nesting ducks.    .     . 
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I spotted a robin last Friday as I was southbound on County Road 8 by Silver Creek which gave me a weather lift. By the time this week’s issue hits the streets we should be enjoying some moderating weather which I won’t object to.  Considering St. Patrick’s Day isn’t very far off anymore, we’ll need some warm, sunny weather to melt some of the snow for Maple Lake’s celebration on March 15th. 
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Columnist Norm S. Holen, Thief River Falls Times, said 50 years ago in that newspaper: “The cultural status of this country isn’t being improved by that invasion of Beatles from England.”