Brute’s Bleat by Harold Brutlag

Monday afternoon, April 23, was a good day for fishing when George Palmer and I capitalized on Maple Lake after somewhat of a dismal year of winter fishing. We started off out the old carp trap area where we ran into Stanley Meintsma and other members of his family who were making it a day of fishing. Palmer and I caught a lot of sunfish, most of them too small; we decided to take a look at Rock Lake as an alternative lake. The public access didn’t look very safe even though I had a 10 foot plank in the Suburban. Having heard some good reports about the east shore of Maple Lake north of Rich Erdahl’s residence, we decided we would finish out the day there.

There was a lone angler on the ice which gave us an idea of how long our walk would be and where to fish. He left about the time we got to him, commenting he had his limit and was heading home. We used some of the same holes he was fishing in and the bite was good for me. We left the lake with a mixture of keeper sunnies and crappies and for the first time this winter I outfished Palmer, which isn’t easy. Jim Carriveau was also catching sunfish and was working on his limit when we left. A nephew, Tony, joined him later. I get didn’t back out there until Wednesday morning about 9:30 when I was pestered by small sunfish which were hard on my meager bait supply which I hadn’t replenished. About 11 a.m. the larger sunfish started to bite and within an hour I had 14 keepers, including two crappies. That was the last of my bait and I left for home.

The water on the lake Monday had gone down into the ice when I got out there Wednesday. That’s a sign it’s starting to honeycomb and will get more rotten as the warm days linger. There was a group of anglers on Maple out from the carp trap on Friday morning and I would have liked to have joined them, but the “better half” had other ideas that didn’t include fishing. By the time this issue hits the streets I venture to say fishing late ice on Maple will be over. It was fun while it lasted, but now it’s time to think about open water angling which is running late because of our unusual late spring. I made it a point to drive out to Ramsey and Rock Lake Sunday and it looks to like Ramsey will be the first lake around here to open up.

I put the snowblower in its summer spot in the garage and took out the lawn mowers, sharpened the blades with hopes that both the rider and the walk behind will make it through another summer. I also finished up removing some holiday lights from some bushes. That’s normally something I do if we get some sunny days in January, but I think snow was the issue this year. With Monday’s rain, and more forecast for Tuesday, the lawns should turn green quickly. I’m wondering if the Morel mushrooms will pop out of the ground soon. Budding lilac bushes is one of the barometers that gives the shoomers a hint as to when they should start hunting for one of nature’s delicacies. I’m guessing it will take several days of 70-80 degree days for that to happen.

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The walleye opener is only two weeks away and there might be a concern about public accesses. The DNR had this to say, “The lingering cold weather is delaying ice-out on Minnesota lakes and rivers, which could make it difficult for DNR crews to have the 1,500 public water accesses it manages ready in time for the May 12 fishing opener. “I want Minnesotans to know that we are doing everything we can to get ready for the fishing opener,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr, “but mostly what we need are warmer temperatures and sunshine.” There are approximately 3,000 public water access sites statewide, and the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division manages about half of them. “Winter weather is always a challenge to Minnesota’s public water access sites,” said Nancy Stewart, water recreation program consultant. “Because of the late ice-out this year, DNR crews will have a shorter window than usual to get boat ramps and docks ready for the May 12 fishing opener, but we will have as many of them ready as possible.”

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The Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener is slated for May 12 in Willmar, Spicer and New London area. The latest ice-out on record for Green Lake is May 8. There have been suggestions to bring ice augers for that event, another suggestion would be warm clothing whether the ice is off or not. I think I’ll spend that first weekend of fishing in the garage tuning up my favorite rods and reels which are still in their winter resting places. I’ve managed to get the boat out of the back yard, but it will take an afternoon to take off the cover and put everything back where it belongs, grease the bearings, and fire up an aging 25 hp. Mercury outboard, etc. Another thing on my fishing horizon is getting ready for the June 2-8 trip to Lake of the Woods. Let’s face it, 2018 is going to be a short summer!