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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Shawn Hennings is in for quite an adventure. Hennings, 46, of Hillsboro, N.D., is a member of the four-man USA Predator Fishing Team competing in the 2017 World Predator Fishing Championship, set for Sept. 2-3 on Russia's Ivankovo Reservoir, an impoundment of the Volga River about 2 hours north of Moscow. The U.S. anglers are among 20 teams from across the world converging on the Russian reservoir. Beyond that, Hennings says, there are a lot of unknowns going into the competition.
JAMESTOWN, N.D. — Jessica Howell is aquatic nuisance species coordinator for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. Howell has a master's degree in fisheries science from South Dakota State University, where she worked on Asian carp, a nasty collection of invasive species that includes the silver carp known for leaping out of the water. "I've been hit by one of those jumping out of the water, by the way, and it hurts," she said.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Grassland conservation in Grand Forks County is getting a boost from a $121,220 Outdoor Heritage Fund grant awarded to Audubon Dakota through the state Industrial Commission. Coupled with matching funds and in-kind labor from Audubon and other partners, including the North Dakota Game and Fish Department and the North Dakota Natural Resources Trust, the total grant package is $450,000.
Entering Canada by water just got easier for anglers and other boaters who cross the border for the day and meet a simple set of guidelines. As part of a new Canadian law, private boaters no longer have to report to the Canada Border Services Agency if they don't land on Canadian soil; don't anchor, moor or make contact with another conveyance in Canadian waters; and don't embark or disembark people or goods in Canada.
MIDDLE RIVER, Minn.—Joel Huener says he's always been "kind of a rabid do-it-yourselfer," a trait that also rubbed off on his hunting and fishing. "I tie flies, I make rods and I load my own ammo," says Huener, 61, a wildlife biologist and manager of Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area. "I see something and think, 'Well, I could do that.' And sometimes I can and sometimes more successfully than others."
I took a walk to an off-the-beaten-path fishing hole the other day and lost track of the number of fish I landed when the count climbed into the 75 to 80 range. This was fishing at its simplest—a jig and a twister tail—and the fish were voracious. I either caught a fish or had a strike every cast. They even hit bare jigs, though my hooking percentage went down; no surprise there. It didn't seem to matter where I cast, either. Close to shore or farther out, the outcome was the same: Fish on.
GRAND FORKS—It was a falcon frenzy Monday afternoon as an estimated 150 people showed up to watch peregrine chicks being banded below the University of North Dakota water tower. Between the three chicks, who loudly voiced their displeasure at being removed from their nest box high atop the tower, and more than 60 kids from various Grand Forks YMCA programs who came to watch, this year's banding effort was even more boisterous than usual.
The carp were there, sucking up seeds or bugs or whatever else might have been floating down the surface of the Red River. Fly casting below Riverside Dam in Grand Forks, Steve Ficocello could see the fish as their orange lips broke the surface of the river. With the precision of an experienced fly caster, Ficocello routinely placed his fly within lipping distance of the carp. More than once, his 7-weight fly rod loaded up, heightening the anticipation of a potential strike.
OAK HAMMOCK MARSH, Man. — The morning was absolutely miserable — cold, cloudy and windy — and banding birds or getting into the heart of the marsh by canoe wasn't going to be an option. "The wind is quite strong this morning," Jacques Bourgeois wrote in an email. "Can you postpone your visit to tomorrow?"
GRAHAMS ISLAND STATE PARK, N.D.—The Visitor Center at Grahams Island State Park used to be hidden in the maintenance shop, an inconspicuous building that wasn't exactly easy to find. Not so anymore. The newly opened Grahams Island State Park Visitor Center is a can't-miss building situated smack-dab in the middle of the 1,122-acre park on Devils Lake. "We're highly visible—we're easy to see, easy to get to, and we can staff it much easier," park Manager Henry Duray said.