Brute’s Bleat December 27, 2017

It is about that time of year to think about or make a New Years resolution or two if you would like to. If I was to make one, or several, they could be to fish more often, be more diligent, and use more of a variety of tackle and bait than I’m presently using. I would also consider hitting the trap range more often in an attempt to keep these two eyes of mine on the target. Others would be to push away from the table earlier in an effort to fit into my jeans more comfortably, and to take longer walks with daughter Anna and our English Setter, Vanna, for a variety of reasons. Perhaps I’ll be a bit more attentive to the wishings of wife, Janis, and make more of an effort to keep in contact with friends and relatives. That’s  enough for now, and probably more than I will keep anyway.
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While walking Vanna in Ney Park Sunday afternoon Anna and I heard barking dogs and I thought it was a musher running his dogs, but Vanna didn’t seem to get excited. We looked skyward and a flock of trumpeter swans a little above the trees were making all the racket. There seems to be more of them every year and apparently there is enough food available for them to stick around in the winter, too. I’m guessing those feeding them in Monticello helps.
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The DNR has been moving dirt on their recently acquired property off County Road 7 west of town. It looks to me like they’re establishing a pond in that peat land which used to be a sod field. I’m guessing it will eventually be a Wildlife Management Area. Messenger employee Don Dittberner fished on Mille Lacs over the Christmas holiday with three of his fishing buddies. He commented he didn’t have a lot of success, but as a group they caught 15 walleyes, four of which were in the slot. He said the ice was about eight inches thick and they used clams and an ATV to get around on the lake. They also had a 32 inch Northern which prompted them to consult the fishing rules. They found out an angler has to keep two under 30 inches before they can keep one over 30 inches on that lake; the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is announcing new pike regulations which will go into effect during the 2018 May fishing opener. The DNR is dividing the state of Minnesota up into three zones- much of the state will be in the North-Central Zone where there is an overpopulation of pike. Anglers will be able to keep 10 pike, but no more than two longer that are than 26 inches. The protected range where you must release the fish is 22-26 inches.
In the Northeast Zone anglers will be able to keep two pike and release all fish 30-40 inches with only one longer than 40 inches allowed. I
In the Southern Zone, the regulation is intended to grow the pike population and improve the size of fish harvested. Anglers can keep two fish at 24 inches or longer. All current pike regulations are in effect for this ice fishing season.
Ryan Tuffs, grandson of Ellie and Bill Tuffs, whom I run into about once a year at a Christmas service at Holy Cross Lutheran, is an avid hunter and fisherperson as are his two brothers. He was fishing on Mille Lacs recently, but didn’t do well that day, but I don’t think that will slow him up.  He commented the sunfish and crappies coming out of East Maple off Hwy. 37, in his estimation, were running small. That reminded me the late Ed Raiche’s comment when that happens “you just have to catch a few more.” Tuffs also said he’s been seeing a lot of pheasant tracks since the snow and hit one while hunting a swamp last week, but apparently only winged the bird which they couldn’t find.      .      .      I haven’t heard much from those fishermen who like to spear Northerns, but most of them don’t like giving away their hot spots   .     .     .    The cold weekend helped the lake ice, but the Monday night news carried a story about a vehicle breaking through Little Detroit Lakes. Fortunately the occupants got out safely.
DNR Lisa Dugan, safety education outreach coordinator for the DNR, can’t wait to see 20-below weather. She wants Minnesota lakes to freeze over good and solid so ATVs and snowmobiles quit breaking through. “We currently have five reported ice fatalities for just this ice season (Dec. 20th).”
  “All these fatalities involved either an ATV or snowmobile,” Dugan added. “It’s unfortunately trending to be a very fatal ice season.” With larger, heavier ATVs getting more popular, the DNR has upgraded its minimum requirements for ATVs and snowmobiles from 5 inches of clear ice to 5-7 inches of clear ice, Dugan said. Double that for white or snow-covered ice. A side-by-side ATV can weigh around 1,500 pounds, while smaller single-seat ATVs usually weigh 350-400 pounds. Two incidents in Becker County recently involved side-by-sides.
“In the past five ice seasons, ATVs and snowmobiles were involved in almost  half of the fatalities,” Dugan said. “People are not taking into account the extra weight, and extra ice thickness is needed to support that.”
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My hunting and fishing has been on hold, mostly because of the cold weather, but a sudden warmup could make a difference!