Brute’s Bleat By Harold Brutlag

Mike Muller gave me a call from Florida to let me know the big crappies were biting on Lake Okeechobee last week when his was fishing with his buddy Jesse. He commented they were in the 13-15 inch range and threatened to send me a picture of the fish using a ruler to show their true length. I’m waiting for the photo. . . Locally the crappie bite is good, but extremely light. On Friday Rock Lake was kicking out nice sized fish in 12-13 feet of water. George Palmer and I gave Maple Lake a shot that morning, but after catching a few perch we loaded up and headed for Rock. We didn’t set the world on fire, but figured we were late, about 11:30. A fairly large group of anglers were fishing across the lake from the public access including Jim Peterson who said there were fish under his fish house but they seemed reluctant to bite. He figured he’d camp out on the same spot late Saturday and fish into the night. The crappies seemed to come and go and Palmer outfished me again when he caught two dandy crappies before we left that area for a weed bed south of the access. We found some sunnies in about nine feet of water where we both caught sunfish, but few keepers. A fairly large bass hit my red euro-larve, got tangled up with the Vexilar cord, and as I was hoisting it out of the hole broke my rod. Of course it was my favorite! There were 10-15 anglers congregated there, most of them sitting on pails enjoying the mild 40 degree day. Apparently my age is beginning to show. I say that because I had two anglers volunteer to drill some holes for us! My Strikemaster chipper is dependable, but slow. From my observation of battery operated augers I’ve witnessed on the lakes, the Ion strikes me as the one to get and I’ll be sure to put it in my letter to Santa next Christmas. We quit fishing about 3:30 p.m. Friday. . . Most of the anglers I’ve been visiting with are complaining about the light bite even through their electronics are showing fish. One Ramsey Lake angler left all of his equipment in his fish house recently and had a nighttime visitor. It wasn’t the common fish house thief, but a muskrat that came up though one of his holes and did a number on anything that was chewable, including the cord on his Vexilar. It also bit through the line on his raddle reel and left it hookless. Needless to say the critter got a swift kick and a poke when Tom opened the door and saw the muskrat. There are mixed success reports from Lake of the Woods and Red Lake fisher-people who have been after walleyes. It sounds like the bite for the most part has been great with limits (4) common on Lake of the Woods and Red Lake. Freeborn Lake, in Freeborn County near Waterville, is listed as a liberalized lake where fish can be taken with various ways. The lakes are only open to liberalized fishing for a short time period. So check the dates on posted signs or in local newspapers. You are required to have a resident angling license to take fish on liberalized lakes. You may take fish in any quantity for personal use from lakes opened to liberalized fishing. You may take fish by spear, gillnet, or angling (check each lake at the access site, gillnets may not be allowed at all lakes). You may not use seines, hoop nets, fyke nets, or explosives to take fish. All trespass laws are in effect and you should abide by them when accessing lakes.

I took Saturday off from fishing and gave it my best shot Sunday afternoon for a couple of hours before the Vikings vs. Philadelphia Eagles NFL playoff game. I should have stayed on the lake! It was not a pretty loss, 7-38, if there ever is one, but I’d say it was a total team loss and let it go at that. The Vikings had a great season even with quarterback Sam Bradford and running back Dalvin Cook sidelined with injuries early in the season. I’m not predicting a Super Bowl winner, Patriots or Eagles, but it would be great if the City of Brotherly Love QB Nick Foles, backup quarter back to Carson Wentz, could have as great a day against the Patriots as he did in Sunday’s game.

The predicted snow storm stayed south of us as of 9:30 a.m. Monday. I had envisioned this area getting a foot or so, but was pleased with only a few flakes. I’ve had the snowblower out twice, but I don’t think that will last. We usually get snow in February and early March when the weather starts to warm up. It would be great if the snow stayed away for the Feb. 3 Fishing Derby on Maple Lake. The east end of that lake seems to be having a derby each weekend, judging from the number of anglers who have been thinning out the crappies since the lake has been frozen over.

It’s not unusual to see bald eagles since they have made a comeback. Late last week we spotted two feeding on a road-kill deer on the first corner of County Road 8 northbound around Silver Creek. They apparently are doing a good job of cleaning up deer’s remains and only the ribs were visible. Another bird, the common Crow, can often be seen at road kills picking away at the flesh. I’m sure both birds get assistance from varmints like coyotes, foxes, and other night feeders in their efforts help to keep the roadsides looking neat.