Brad Dokken / Forum News Service
DEVILS LAKE, N.D. -- This year’s Devils Lake Volunteer Fire Department Ice Fishing Tournament features a new cast of organizers, but participants in North Dakota’s largest ice fishing event won’t notice any difference. The 35th annual tournament is set for 1 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, on Six-Mile Bay of Devils Lake. And as usual, anyone who doesn’t have one of the 22,500 tickets available for the event is pretty much out of luck.
DEVILS LAKE, N.D. -- On the misery scale, this cold, blustery Tuesday in January had all the makings of a solid 8, with 10 being the worst. That wasn’t an issue for Tom Rost. As wind whipped the icy horizon into a snowy froth and the mercury plummeted, Rost was seated at the helm of a SnoBear -- think of it as a mobile fish house on tracks -- watching his electronics while he tried to coax finicky fish into biting. No jacket, no gloves, no need. The thermostat was set at a comfortable 70 degrees.
One of the many attractions of spending time outdoors is the sense of the unknown, the anticipation of what the day might bring. You might not catch the biggest fish of your life or enjoy the best day of hunting you’ve ever experienced, but then again, you might. You just never know. I thought about that the other day while recalling some of the more memorable outdoor encounters I’ve experienced over the years, both things that have happened to me personally, and as an observer sharing in someone else’s success.
The inaugural “Walleye Wars” between tourism officials on Lake of the Woods and Devils Lake is in the books, and the trophy went to … Lake of the Woods. Billed as a celebration of ice fishing and a celebration of two very good lakes, the final fish count in Thursday’s event -- which pitted Joe Henry of Lake of the Woods Tourism against Tanner Cherney of the Devils Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau -- was 71 fish for Lake of the Woods and 14 fish for Devils Lake.
GRAND FORKS -- I was crappie fishing on Cutfoot Sioux Lake in northern Minnesota the first time I ever tried a Vexilar FL-8 flasher.
GRAND FORKS — As a fourth-generation resident of Waskish, Minn., on Upper Red Lake, Jonny Petrowske has history on his side when it comes to looking at changes in the weather patterns that affect his livelihood. A jack of all trades, Petrowske, 43, traps minnows, works as a fishing and bear hunting guide, and rents fish houses in the winter. Petrowske says dealing with extreme weather patterns has become the new normal. Some years, it’s late springs and early freeze-ups; other years, it’s just the opposite.
GRAND FORKS - Chronic wasting disease has been in the news again this week with the report that a deer in Houston County in far southeast Minnesota tested “presumptive positive” for the disease. In a news release Wednesday, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said confirmation was expected, which will mean the first confirmed case of CWD in Houston County since testing began in 2002. Now, it appears CWD also is making inroads in North Dakota, where a deer in Unit 3A1 initially has tested positive for the disease.
GRAND FORKS -- Drawing a tag for North Dakota’s deer gun season is a lot more difficult than it was in the mid-2000s, when the state Game and Fish Department offered as many as 150,000 licenses statewide, but there’s no disputing the prominence of deer season as a happening on the state’s outdoors calendar. North Dakota’s 16 ½-day deer gun season opens at noon Friday, Nov. 9.
Jim Brown had seen the two bucks on his trail camera near Walhalla, N.D., earlier in the fall, but then they stopped showing up. That all changed one day in December when Brown, a Walhalla contractor, checked the card on his Cuddyback trail camera. What he saw only can be described as a spectacle of nature: One buck entangled with the rack of another buck whose body is severed from its head. The antlers and severed head hang from the rack of the living buck.
BEMIDJI, Minn. — John Williams likes to use a pendulum analogy when talking about deer populations in northwest Minnesota, and right now, the pendulum is swinging from "not enough deer" to "too many deer" in several areas, the longtime wildlife manager says. That should translate into good hunting opportunities when Minnesota's firearms deer season opens Saturday, Nov. 4—a full six days before North Dakota's deer gun season, which opens at noon Friday, Nov. 10.