Brute’s Bleat January 18, 2017

Last week’s column about a practical joke involving four lady anglers got a fair amount of reaction from our readers. Now we’re looking for other practical jokes that we could use in this column. The late Leo Dircks, proprietor of Dircks Fairway with his brother, Al, seemed to come up to some type of nonsense in his spare time and if you were a recipient of a practical joke manufactured by Leo, or someone else, we’d like to hear about it. Send it our way, Maple Lake Messenger, Box 817, Maple Lake, MN 55358.
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There seems to be a fair amount of angling action on Maple Lake since last week’s snow. Apparently the fish are biting out from the swimming beach or the anglers are moving their houses out to get a favorite spot for the Feb. 4 Fishing Derby. Remember, this year it’s an hour longer and starts at noon, continuing to 3 p.m. with other activities in the morning as well as a dance on the ice under the big top in the evening. I’m guessing there will be sufficient ice with the cold weather we’ve been having even though we’re supposed to have a January thaw later this weekend.
I was on Maple two days running over the weekend fishing late in the afternoons. On Saturday I kept eight sunnies so our family could at least get a taste. I also had one dandy crappie on the ice which slipped back into the hole as I was reaching down to put it in the pail. The same thing happened on Sunday when a crappie also spit out the hook and was gone in seconds. Obviously I’m not bending over quick enough! I had two other keeper crappies and a sunfish which I also put back before leaving around 5 p.m. I was using larvae (maggots), but probably should have had crappie minnows. The bite seemed extremely short (15-20 minutes), beginning about 4:00 p.m. . . A person didn’t have to read between the lines of the DNR story in Sunday’s Trib about the plight of the sunfish in Minnesota lakes to know there will be changes coming for anglers who enjoy fishing panfish. It may not happen for another year, because of hearing etc., but rest assured the days of 20 sunfish limits are numbered. You’ll also be paying more for a fishing license than the present fee ($23.00 Individual) which is what I’d call a bargain basement deal. The story went on to explain how modern day electronics have made it easier for anglers to locate fish, which is half the battle. We’ve come a long ways from the days when a cane pole was used for checking the depth as well as outfitting it with a line and cork for fishing. I don’t know if people realize the fishing pressure panfish are subjected to both in the summer and the winter. The modern day anglers can fish in comfort 24 hours a day in some fish houses that rival all the comforts of home. I can see the limit on sunfish cut to 10 which still is plenty to clean in my book. It’s already 5 on some lakes which is an experimental effort. Don’t be surprised if there will be a slot size to help maintain a healthy population. I don’t relish the idea of measuring those slippery devils so I’m opposed to slots if that comes up in the DNR board room. I’ve been enjoying good sunfish fishing most of my retirement years, but have noticed it’s been a struggle to find keeper panfish with a fly rod during their spawning run in recent years. That may be because I’m not pulling on the waders often enough during that window of opportunity when they are most vulnerable. For me that’s been a good time to practice catch-and-release, keeping only enough for a meal, and letting the rest go to entertain some other anglers. . . Walleye anglers won’t be immune to limit changes in the near future in an effort to maintain healthy populations, and dropping the limit from six to three is a definite possibility. Those with opinions on fish limits, slots, etc., plus some new ideas on fish management, should attend hearings on these issues. Check the DNR website to find times and places.
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A local angler told me over the weekend the best winter fishing is over for this year. He didn’t convince me to put my equipment away. But being the eternal optimist I’ll still get out, weather permitting, this winter and dream about late ice which sometimes makes up for poor winter fishing. The best I heard was a three-pound crappie being caught on Rock Lake last week!