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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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.
NDGF increases deer gun tags North Dakota's 2016 deer season is set, with 49,000 licenses available to hunters this fall—an increase of 5,725 from last year. According to Jeb Williams, wildlife chief for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, population and harvest data indicate the state's deer population is stable to increasing after seven years of reduced gun licenses and consecutive mild winters.
Fisheries managers across the region say it's been a good spring for fish work and projects that range from collecting pike and walleye eggs in North Dakota to sampling northern pike populations on Lake of the Woods. Greg Power, fisheries chief for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, said crews gathered their quota of northern pike eggs from the Devils Lake Basin in a couple of days in early April. The quota was 96 quarts, and fisheries crews collected 132 quarts, Power said—mainly from the area near Silver Lake off old U.S. Highway 281.
In late March, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department issued a reminder to anglers about the state's baitfish rules, particularly relating to live white suckers, which are illegal to use anywhere in North Dakota except the Red and Bois de Sioux rivers. Fisheries division chief Greg Power at the time said the regulation has been in place for more than 20 years, but every spring, Game and Fish still gets questions from anglers who wonder if they can use live white suckers for early ice-out northern pike fishing elsewhere in the state.
Lake of the Woods Lake of the Woods appears to be ice-free, based on satellite imagery posted Thursday. Walleye fishing is closed until May 14, but pike reports this past weekend were favorable, despite conditions that were windy at times. Anglers have caught some big pike in the bays by dunking a frozen cisco just off or on the bottom. The slow presentation is a favorite technique for targeting lethargic fish this early in the season. A few pike also have been caught casting lures into the shallows.
Cole Harris of Grand Forks Air Force Base shows off his “PB” -- personal best -- walleye, which he caught April 30 while fishing from shore on Devils Lake.
Josh Andrews of Larimore, N.D. (pictured) and Cole Harris of Grand Forks Air Force Base caught this limit of walleyes April 30 while fishing from shore on Devils Lake. Harris...
ALEXANDER, N.D. — For the first time since the late 1800s, a wolverine has been confirmed in North Dakota. Stephanie Tucker, game management section leader and furbearer biologist for the...