Brute’s Bleats

Daryl Hennen convinced me to make a pheasant run on Wednesday (it didn’t take much convincing) and we headed for the pheasant mecca west of Cottonwood. We didn’t find a whole lot of birds, but I did get a shot through the brush at one in the afternoon. It was an extremely windy day and it wasn’t until the last hour of hunting that we started to see a few birds. Most of them were hens, but one rooster crossed the road ahead of us and we figured we best leave that one for romancing in the spring. We were feeding the dogs in a WMA approach when another hunter pulled over. He said five roosters and four hens just crossed the road ahead of him (and behind us) and were leaving the WMA for some corn stubble. He wasn’t going after them and it was quitting time and we’ve never had much luck chasing birds. I figured that would be my last pheasant outing for the season which ended at sunset Jan. 1, but Janis felt I should take advantage of the nice day, Friday (I think she just wanted me out of the house). I was on County Road 37, heading toward Litchfield, when I spotted a rooster on the shoulder, apparently taking in the view. I almost came to a stop and then the bird walked to the middle of the road for another look. It was about 15 minutes before legal shooting time and when the rooster didn’t move I drove around him and debated briefly if I should get the 12 gauge out and take a chance. This all happened within seconds on 37 and Co. Rd. 2, just east of the Lutheran Church. Any inkling I had to break the law disappeared when a Wright County Deputy pulled up to the stop sign on Hwy. 2. . . Friday’s nice weather must have dragged most of the pheasant hunters out for a last hurrah. When I got to where I wanted to hunt (west of Clara City), most of the spots had hunters in them, or evidence they had been hunted that morning. I headed further west hoping the hunting pressure would be less, but it wasn’t. Vanna and I managed to put some hens in the air, but no roosters. One cock flew off the shoulder after shooting hours on our way back. We were west of Milan and there were six anglers toughing it out on the Minnesota River plus another five or six that were fishing from shelters. In retrospect I should have gone fishing, but there’s still plenty of time for winter angling. . . I’ve gotten scattered reports of anglers catching a few walleyes on area lakes (they like to keep it a secret), but I haven’t heard of a good panfish bite. With a week of cold weather ahead of us the ice should be firming up for the annual fishing derby on Maple Lake, which is Feb. 4th. . . Daryl Hennen and his grandson, Evan, fished New Year’s Day, first on Lake Mary where they didn’t get a bite; and then on Little Maple where small panfish were aggressive, but too small to keep. They also caught two small (hammer handle) Northerns before wrapping it up about 4:30 p.m. Local spearer, Bob Fobbe, has been having some success on Cedar and where the ice is about 8 inches thick and the Northerns are active. Lake Mary was reported to have been dirty, but that lake has been producing Northerns, too.
* * *
The perch bite has been especially strong so far this ice-fishing season on Devil’s Lake in North Dakota, according to the Outdoor News. They said, “On Thursday, Dec. 29, local guide Mark Bry and 20 clients cleaned about 400 perch.”
“They averaged 10 inches long, but there were some 12- to 14-inchers in the buckets,” he said. “The best bites seem to be shallow, starting at 8 feet. We’re catching fish despite the up-and-down weather.”
For walleyes, “It’s just getting going, and not on fire, and we haven’t gotten to what we consider our best early-ice spots yet,” he said. “Hey, it’s been brutally nasty, but when the weather pattern straightens out, the fish will go.”
* * *
If you made a New Year’s resolution and already have broken it, one to consider is from the Minnesota Dept. of Transportation which goes something like this: “This year put your cell phone down.” It’s a great idea, and I hope automobile drivers will pick up on it, but for those people who seem to have their cell phones glued to their ears while driving it would be too much ask. On the other hand it could eliminate an accident! . .