Brad Dokken is editor of the Herald's Northland Outdoors section and also works as a copy editor and page designer. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998. He also writes a blog called Compass Points. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University.
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NEAR GRAFTON, N.D. -- Catching deer wasn't a problem on this bone-chilling cold January morning; four of the five cage-like "Clover traps" -- named after a biologist by the name of M.R. Clover -- baited with a mix of alfalfa, molasses and a cup or two of corn had deer in them. Problem was, they weren't the right deer.
Thursday's news from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources that two larval zebra mussels were found in a water sample from Lake Winnibigoshish offers yet another harsh reminder that all of us need to step up our efforts to curb the spread of aquatic invasive species. Located in Cass and Itasca counties near Grand Rapids, Minn., Lake Winnibigoshish -- or "Big Winnie," as it's commonly known -- covers 58,544 acres and is the fourth-largest lake in Minnesota. It's a premier fishery for walleyes, perch, pike and muskies.
Q. A friend from southern Colorado shot a mule deer in November that was still in velvet. When he spoke with a conservation officer from the Division of Wildlife, he was told the deer had epizootic hemorrhagic disease and that the disease was becoming more common. What is this disease, how is it spread and have there been any cases reported here in North Dakota? A. EHD is a naturally occurring virus that is spread by a biting midge. It is almost always fatal to infected whitetails, while mule deer usually don't die from the disease.
A new indoor public fish-cleaning station now is open on Devils Lake. According to Suzie Kenner, executive director of the Devils Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau, the 20-foot-by-32-foot fish cleaning facility opened at 6 a.m. Jan. 19 and is located just south of Ed's Bait Shop along state Highway 20. With both heating and air conditioning, the year-round facility can handle 15 anglers at a time and has two grinders, a separate cleanup sink and a handicapped-accessible bathroom. The indoor fish-cleaning station is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Walk into Jason Schiller's spacious garage, and it quickly becomes apparent where his passion lies. The 30 sets of mounted antlers that line the top of one wall are a giveaway. So are the five European mounts, including a bull moose, which catch the eye on another wall. The garage, with tongue-and-groove pine on the walls and ceiling and a spotless floor, looks more like a hunting lodge than a place to park vehicles. The antlers fit right in with the decor. "I just keep these out here because I don't have room in the house," Schiller, 38, Grand Forks, said.
A co-worker came up to my desk the other morning and said, "You probably wish you were ice fishing on a day like this." The low temperature that morning was 20 below zero. He knows me well enough to know there was a time I wouldn't have hesitated to hit the ice on a morning that cold. I've done it numerous times over the years and often have been rewarded with great fishing for my efforts. I'll have to admit, though: Not once during the past week's cold snap did I wish I was ice fishing.
Duane DeKrey is the new deputy director of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, having been appointed to the position in late December by Game and Fish Director Terry Steinwand. He replaces Roger Rostvet, who retired from the department's second-in-command position last July. A Pettibone, N.D., native and former farmer and rancher, DeKrey, 56, spent 20 years in the North Dakota Legislature, where he represented one of the most rural districts in the state.
I can't quite believe I'm writing this, but ... whatever happened to snow? For the second winter in as many years, my snowmobile is collecting dust. Conditions are marginal, at best, here in Grand Forks, and while a limited amount of trail grooming is under way on Lake of the Woods and parts of Beltrami Island State Forest, the trail reports from the areas I generally ride in northwest Minnesota read like a broken record: Poor. Fair. Unknown.
They added 3,000 tickets, but organizers of the annual Devils Lake Fire Department Ice Fishing Tournament said the winter extravaganza still sold out. So, if you don't have a ticket, better luck next year. This year's tournament, the 29th annual, is set for Jan. 26, and the fishing will take place from 1 to 3:30 p.m.
Q. I read recently in the Herald that the Red Lake Indian Reservation has now opened up four lakes for guided rainbow trout fishing trips. Are there any other lakes in the area that one could fish for rainbows on their own, and how does fishing for trout through the ice differ from, say, panfish? A. North Dakota stocks rainbow trout in several small lakes across the state, along with the Turtle River at Turtle River State Park throughout the spring and summer months when water levels are adequate.