Brute’s Bleat September 6, 2017

Normally I get up to Itasca State Park at least once during the summer and when Lake Itasca was a good panfish lake it was more often, sometimes even in the winter! Last Wednesday’s trip was more of a sight-seeing adventure with Anna and Vanna. All three of us managed to get our feet wet in the headwaters of the Mississippi River along with other tourists. One group’s vehicle was registered in Canada and I visited briefly with an Iowan who now lives in Detroit Lakes. When he saw my Setter Vanna our conversation turned to upland game hunting. He said Iowa, like the Dakotas, is suffering from loss of CRP habitat and the glory years when hunters harvested upward to 2,000,000 birds is only a memory. He was familiar with Many Point Lake, a place where Janis spent a fair number of years while growing up when her parents maintained a small resort there. He said they camped at Whaley’s which ironically was just next door to the Wiecks’ home and cabins. We haven’t been back there since new owners took possession and built a new home. Anyway, I suggested he take up ruffed grouse hunting in that area in lieu of chasing rooster tails. We hiked from the swimming beach on the Schoolcraft trail that goes by the Mary Gibbs Headwaters Center and to a point where a lot of the lake is visible, including the island where the fishing has been good in years past. I visited with a naturalist who said she hadn’t caught any large sunnies, but there are plenty of small panfish. We took Hwy. 113 west when we left the park and meandered down a township road that turned into a minimum maintenance road looking for a covey of grouse. The only thing wild we saw was a porcupine ambling down the edge of the road before we came across 5-6 turkeys in a ditch off the Boot Lake Road. We also saw a family of five deer feeding in the backyard of a resident when we were heading home north of Verndale. They were less than 30 feet from the house and I can only assume they enjoy being fed!
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Daryl Hennen was shooting clays with his O/U 12 ga. Tuesday at Silver Creek’s Sportsman’s Club, but it was a different shotgun than he used previously. Apparently it fit his shoulder better and he had little trouble breaking the targets. On the second round he missed #1, but then broke the remaining 24. I made a slight improvement and the second time around hit 21/25.
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A Friday effort at fishing on Maple Lake seemed like a good idea for George Palmer and myself, but it turned out differently when we couldn’t find any hungry sunfish. After a couple of hours on that lake we threw in the towel and decided Rock might be a better bet. It wasn’t great, but we managed to find enough for Palmer to have a meal (7 keepers). It might be the time of year, the phase of the moon, or something else that has slowed up the bite. I’m not giving up totally on sunfish, but this time of the year my thoughts turn more toward walleyes and soon it will be time to walk some trails for ruffed grouse.
My brother, Charles, and a buddy of his, David Robbins, fished in North Dakota last week and came home with 10 walleyes apiece. They fished on Alkaline Lake where he said the walleyes were plentiful. He said their largest was 22 inches and their limits were from 14- to 17-inch fish, the size that’s great for putting in the frying pan. A blurb on the internet says this lake is getting to be the Devils Lake of north-central North Dakota. It sounds like one I should be fishing!
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Daryl Hennen and I took in a couple of the state tournament baseball games at Norwood Saturday and watched Buffalo lose 3-2 to Lake Henry when the Bulldogs were plagued by three errors. It was a 2-2 ball game after seven innings and Lake Henry went ahead 3-2 in the top of the ninth. Brad Mergen (same last name as the Maple Lake Irish baseball team’s left-hander and also a Laker, Grant Mergen), a draftee from Farming, pitched six innings for Lake Henry and allowed only one run. Jon Euerle, Buffalo pitcher, threw six innings, gave up seven hits and no earned runs.
Next we watched Kimball defeat Fergus Falls 7-3 when they exploded for four runs in the fifth inning. Fergus Falls came back with three in the bottom of the fifth, but three insurance runs in the top of the ninth put the icing on the cake. Kimball got yoe-men’s duty out of pitcher Austin Klaverkamp, draftee from Luxemburg, who pitched six innings with Matt Dingmann getting the save. Brooks Marquardt, ML Irish baseball coach, was 1/3 at the plate and played centerfield.
In the games Sunday Kimball defeated Green Isle 7-0 and Bemidji 3-0 for a couple of shut-outs which put them in the finals when they faced Lake Henry who defeated Faribault 3-2 and New Prague 4-2.
I wasn’t at Monday’s championship game which had a little bit of everything in baseball, a large crowd at Green Isle, a see-saw battle with the lead changing hands twice, tied twice, home runs by both teams, a half-hour rain delay, and a game-winning, walk-off home run. Lake Henry trailed 1-2 in the top of the sixth, and with two away and a runner on, Ryan Wuertz homered and the next hitter, Adam Miller, blasted his first pitch over the fence giving them a 4-2 lead. Kimball tied the game with Adam Beyer’s hom run and one on in the bottom of the seventh, also with two away. The eighth inning was scoreless for both teams and Ben Johnson, who pitched a shut-out against Bemidji the night before, came in for Kimball and retired Lake Henry’s first three batters. Kimball’s Brooks Marquardt led off with a single and catcher Scott Marquardt’s walk-off homer scored Marquardt for the 6-4 win.
The radio announcer said fans were standing along left field when the grandstand and bleachers were full of spectators as the game began. That says alot for the fans from Kimball and Lake Henry. Neither team had won the Class C State Championship before. Our congratulations to the Kimball Express team for four outstanding games leading up to their championship win. I wish I had been there!

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