Brad Dokken is a reporter and editor of the Herald's Sunday Northland Outdoors pages. 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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Following up on rumors goes with the territory in the news business. They might turn out to be much ado about nothing, but then again. ... Such was the case earlier this week, when I received an email from a reader in Devils Lake, N.D. Word was, the reader said, that four boats from Iowa were caught fishing Lake Alice National Wildlife Refuge—which is closed to summer fishing—and had 63 walleyes over their limit.
GRAND FORKS—The Minnesota attorney general's race might not take center stage in the minds of hunters and anglers across the state, but this year's race bears watching in the days leading up to the Aug. 14 primary election. Bob Lessard, 87, the former Minnesota state senator nicknamed "The Old Trapper," has thrown his hat into the ring on a platform that largely focuses on protecting the dedicated funding package Minnesota voters approved in 2008, when they passed the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.
GRAND FORKS—Crossing a portage in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness one day more than 20 years ago, Steve Hawthorne decided he was done lugging his 84-pound fiberglass canoe between wilderness lakes. That was enough of that, he recalls. Hawthorne loves the northeast Minnesota wilderness area and taking canoe trips with his son, Matt, or daughter, Kara, both of whom now are in their mid 30s. But when your paddling partners gauge a successful canoe trip by how many miles they can portage, it's time to explore lighter options, he says.
So I went blueberry picking last weekend—and enjoyed it. The bucket of blueberries now in my freezer definitely made the few hours I spent in the woods worth the effort. Wild blueberries are smaller than the store-bought version, but taste-wise, there's no comparison; wild blueberries are that much better. Plus, I've found, there's a satisfaction that comes from leaving the woods with a full bucket of blueberries that's difficult to describe.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — As a muskie fisherman with a knack for inventing things, developing a muskie lure came naturally for Jeff Sprecher. It appears the Grand Forks inventor and entrepreneur has landed the tackle equivalent of a whopper with his Airheads—bucktail-type fishing lures with double spinner blades and soft plastic heads and tails—and Power Tail replacement components that also can be used on spoons and other lures.
KAMATSI LAKE, Saskatchewan—We'd been exploring a new part of the lake, catching lake trout with just enough regularity to keep things interesting, when Peter Howard suggested we try a nearby shoreline point at the mouth of a narrows we'd been fishing for the past hour. Good plan, that. Shoreline points often mean dropoffs into deeper water, and dropoffs often mean lake trout, those spotted, grayish-blue packages of fins and power and beauty that head for the depths when surface water temperatures rise past 50 degrees.
KAMATSI LAKE, Sask.—We'd been told about the bear that occasionally wanders into this northern Saskatchewan outpost camp, and it made an appearance one morning during our recent weeklong fishing adventure. The bear didn't cause any trouble, and banging a couple of frying pans together made a racket loud enough to send it ambling back into the brush from whence it came.
GRAND FORKS—"Brad," the peregrine falcon chick hatched this spring atop the University of North Dakota water tower and banded in late June, is flying and has completed his maiden flights without incident. Birding expert Dave Lambeth has seen the peregrine chick on Hyslop Sports Center, and regional raptor authority Tim Driscoll said he saw Brad flying near Hyslop on Monday. The successful flights bode well for the young peregrine to survive an especially risky time in his life, Driscoll said.
GRAND FORKS — Arthur Forman, 94, of Grand Forks called me the other day to point out a couple of omissions in my column last Sunday, June 24, about Kyle Heim, the Bismarck fisherman who caught a 27-inch, 7-pound zander June 6 while fishing Spiritwood Lake near Jamestown, N.D. Why, Forman wondered, did neighboring states and Canada oppose the one-time introduction of the European walleye relative into Spiritwood in 1989? And what, he asked, did the North Dakota Game and Fish Department spend on stocking zander when it imported eggs from Holland and Finland?
It's been a busy few weeks for bear sightings in northwest Minnesota and other parts of the state, and a new online tool the Department of Natural Resources launched for reporting bear sightings is filling up with dots. To date, the interactive map shows 10 sightings in Polk County, nine in Pennington County and five in Marshall County in far northwest Minnesota. And since the map only shows reported sightings, there's a good chance even more bears have been seen and not reported.