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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Here's a piece of advice for anglers venturing out for Saturday's Minnesota walleye opener: Wear warm clothes. Last weekend's balmy temperatures look to be a distant memory come Saturday. There's even an occasional mention of the dreaded "s" word—yes, snow—in the forecast for some places Friday afternoon. Chances of sunburn look to be minimal.
RED LAKE AND WASKISH, Minn.—Pat Brown and Gary Barnard were working at opposite ends of Upper and Lower Red lakes in 1997, but the fisheries biologists encountered scenarios that were as similar as they were gloomy. The two connected basins—on the Red Lake Indian Reservation to the west and the eastern shore of Upper Red Lake in Beltrami County—were all but devoid of walleyes.
Q. I heard the Minnesota DNR is gathering a list of springs across the state. How will I know a spring when I see one, and how can I report the location? A. A spring is a focused natural discharge of flowing groundwater. Some telltale clues are they usually remain unfrozen in winter, they can seem unusually cold in summer and they often are associated with plants such as watercress and willows. Some springs appear to "boil" the surface of lakes and streams.
To get an event in the calendar, contact Brad Dokken at (701) 780-1148; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1148; or by email at email@example.com. Deadline is 5 p.m. Thursdays. Banquets • Saturday: Roseau/Lake of the Woods Sportsman Club annual fish fry and membership drive, 4 to 7 p.m., Hawk's Nest, Roosevelt, Minn; $12 for one meal; raffles and door prizes. More info: Natalie Otterson, (218) 242-1259.
We contacted a handful of area fishing guides across northern Minnesota for their walleye opener and early season tips and tactics. Here's what they had to say: Toby Kvalevog • Leisure Outdoor Adventures, Leech Lake and other north-central Minnesota waters:
BROOKINGS, S.D.— When it comes to reducing the number of walleye in Lake Oahe, anglers take a back seat to Mother Nature. That's the take-home message from a South Dakota State University research project to assess movement, mortality and the impact of anglers on walleye populations, according to Mark Fincel, senior biologist at the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department. The five-year walleye tagging project, which is in its final year, focuses on the Missouri River from the Oahe Dam near Pierre, N.D., north to the Garrison Dam near Riverdale, N.D.
This is Zonotricia season. Don't shrink in fear. Zonotricia is a group of closely related sparrows—a genus, in science-speak. The Latin name refers to the pattern on their heads. Just pronounce the word the way it's written, Zo No Trish E. Ah and let's proceed. Or, you could do like I do: Refer to these birds as "stripe-headed sparrows." There are five species. Four of their English names refer to the patterns on the head. These are golden-crowned sparrow, rufous-collared sparrow, white-crowned sparrow and white-throated sparrow.
By all indications, anglers should be in for a fairly normal—if there is such a thing—opener when Minnesota's walleye season gets underway Saturday. Ice is all but gone from Lake of the Woods, and the big lake will be ice-free by opening day. Other walleye factories such as Red, Winnie and Leech have been ice-free a couple of weeks. Coupled with increasing air and water temperatures, that means walleyes on most bodies of water should be done spawning and ready to feed. As always, wind and weather will be the wild cards.
I haven't missed a Minnesota walleye opener in several years, and while the memories of some of them have faded over time, a few stand out. The first one that comes to mind dates back to junior high, when several friends and I set up tents in a remote area known locally as "the bog" and threw spoons for northern pike. Typical of many openers, rain came down in buckets that opening day, but we toughed it out as best we could. Fishing was good, and the pike were voracious so the rain was a minor inconvenience.
Tick season is in full swing, and if you're anything like me, just the thought of the blood-sucking parasites is enough to make the skin crawl. Literally. Deer ticks, which carry Lyme disease and are becoming more prevalent in our part of the world, scare me the most because they're so tiny—barely larger than the head of a pin in some cases. The more common wood ticks are larger, but they still can be problematic when they become attached. I react horribly to tick bites, which leave a welt that itches and burns sometimes for two weeks or more.