Brute’s Bleat – February 28, 2018

Mike Muller, Jesse Allen, and guest angler David Kloss had a banner day fishing crappies last week Tuesday when the caught 38 fish that filled one five gallon pail and a third of a second pail on Lake Okeechobee, Florida. Muller said Kloss, who winters in Florida from his Moorhead home, caught the first crappie. The minimum size is 10 inches and Muller said they jigged for their fish and did not keep any that were under 10 1/2 inches. They were using customized jigs tipped with a cricket. He said Kloss was impressed with the crappie bite and likened the action to a private lake in North Dakota where he fishes walleyes. Locally, the hot spot for crappies is Lake Constance which has come on strong recently according to Steve Loch who planned to enjoy a meal of fresh fish Sunday. The deep snow on the ice will make it difficult to get around until the sun shrinks it down. I’m willing to wait until that happens and considering there’s about 28-30 inches of ice it will be awhile before we can fish late ice.

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Maxine Gohman, a former employee of the Messenger, saw a snowy owl last Thursday and was amazed the huge white bird was this far south. She was returning from Buffalo when the owl flew across the highway and was low enough to give her a great detailed look at the owl’s face, it’s beak, and other facial features.

The snowy owl nests in the arctic tundra in northern Canada and Alaska. But, during many winters this large white raptor comes to northern Minnesota to hunt voles, mice, and other small animals. The snowy owl is seldom seen in this part of Minnesota, although they have been sighted in the Duluth area. Some snowy owls are nearly pure white. Others are heavily speckled in black or brown.

The female snowy owl lays her eggs on a grassy hummock in the arctic. The number of eggs varies, depending on the amount of food in a particular area. (Parts of this story are from information available on the internet.)

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Vanna stopped to pose for a moment in Ney Park late Saturday afternoon on the bridge across the creek that runs from Lake Mary into the park pond. I don’t know why her eyes look like they’re closed, but she and others were enjoying the snow and a chance to ski or snow shoe on the park’s numerous trails.

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There’s a little snow forecast for Thursday morning, but it will be warm all week so we can look for slushy weather as we go into March. This year’s St. Patrick’s Day festival will be Saturday, March 17, right on St. Pat’s day. I’m not saying all of the snow will be gone by then, but warm weather and sunshine will make a big difference. It’s time to think green and get ready for the scamper, big parade, and the surprises the Maple Lake Chamber has in store for that day. It’s a day when anyone can claim be to Irish, and thousands do. It’s always great to see the visiting queens get into the act wearing something green as they ride on their floats in the parade. The parade has never been cancelled or postponed, but it came close one year when a storm dumped about a foot of snow the night before. Fortunately, the city street crew had the streets plowed and the show went on as planned. I’m amazed how quickly the city, county, and state highway departments are clearing their roads, especially the late Saturday-Sunday which was wet and heavy. I realize the warm weather and sunshine helped lots, but they had the roads clear of snow and ice by noon following both storms. They are to be commended for making the highway safe so quickly after the storms.

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I hadn’t given it a thought but all 2017 Minnesota licenses – fishing, hunting and trapping – expire Wednesday, Feb. 28; the DNR reminded sportsmen/women in a recent news release, noting, too, that new licenses are required for 2017 hunting and fishing seasons that continue past Feb. 28.

All 2018 fishing licenses become effective Thursday, March 1. For 2018, license fees will increase by $3 for a resident individual angling license, and fees also will increase for other license types, including deer hunting and sports and lifetime licenses.

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