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. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University.
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GRAND FORKS — Spring continues to be little more than a promise on the seasonal horizon, but outdoors lovers shouldn't let the gloomy weather put a chill on their plans for summer. What better way to weather the storm, after all, than planning a trip? When it comes to the great outdoors, planning and anticipation is half the fun.
In April 1997, as Blizzard Hannah roared into the Red River Valley and brought the region to a screeching halt, I was on the Rainy River with a couple of friends trying to catch walleyes in water the color of chocolate milk. As happens every spring, tributary streams feeding the Rainy had opened, unleashing a barrage of ice and debris and muddying up the river. Anyone who's ever fished the Rainy in the spring knows what that does to walleye fishing. The bite pretty much dies until the debris from the tributaries works its way through the system and water clarity improves.
There's a new female peregrine in town—possibly the second to show up at the UND water tower since Sunday—vying for the affections of Marv the male, but she's not Terminator, the matriarch of local peregrines since 2008 when nesting first was documented in Grand Forks. Peregrine pairs don't migrate together but return to the same nest site every spring. Females typically show up later, so if Terminator flies into town in the next few days, a peregrine love triangle could be in the works, Grand Forks raptor expert Tim Driscoll said Wednesday.
ROSEAU, Minn. -- Debbie Kujava says she stopped at Holiday Stationstores in Roseau, Minn., to get some pop after work one day early last week when she decided to pick up a few lottery tickets for the March 14 drawing. She bought the Jackpot Bundle, a package of lottery tickets that includes Powerball, Mega Millions, Gopher 5 and Lotto America. “I thought ‘What the heck, just give me the Jackpot Bundle,’ ” she said. “I put them in my coat pocket and forgot about them.” The morning after the drawing, Kujava says she decided to check the numbers.
Lake of the Woods Fishing has heated up as March hits the midpoint, Lake of the Woods Tourism reports in this week's update. Electronics are helpful in putting more walleye and saugers on the ice. Some fish are aggressive, while others must be enticed into biting. Most resorts have their houses set up atop 24 feet to 33 feet of water and continue to push shallower.Glow spoons and smaller presentations tipped with a minnow head or tail are working well, according to the report.
OAK ISLAND, Minn. — Something was different about this fish, judging by the red blob that now bubbled on the screen of my Vexilar FL-18 depthfinder. It looked thicker than the walleye blips that had shown up and cooperated with pleasing regularity throughout the morning, seeming almost to pulsate as I bounced a gold-and-glow-red "Stop Sign" jigging spoon tipped with a minnow head above it in hopes of enticing a strike. Whatever was down there, I wanted to catch it — or at least hook it.
BISMARCK — Whether the behemoth muskie Ryan Getz of Bismarck caught while ice fishing on New Johns Lake in Burleigh County is a new state record tiger muskie — a hybrid pike-muskie cross — or just a very large pure strain muskie won't be known until genetic test results become available. Either way, it's one heck of a fish to pull through a hole in the ice. The muskie measured 51 inches and weighed 41.3 pounds. "Yeah, it wasn't too bad," Getz said with a laugh Thursday, March 6, in a phone interview. "I wish they'd give me word" on the test results.
I'm in catch-up mode after a few days out of the office that served up near-perfect weather. Perfect weather by late February and early March standards, at least. It all started last Saturday, Feb. 24, when four of us set out by snowmobile on a trip across Lake of the Woods from Warroad, Minn., to Oak Island on the Northwest Angle. Ice fishing and snowmobiling were on the agenda, and the conditions for both were ideal.
I was talking to a fisheries manager the other day when I told him I thought this winter had become a bit of a grind. And in many ways, it has. There's been relentless periods of cold, too much wind and, for skiers, snowmobilers and other snow sports enthusiasts, marginal snowfall, at least in the Red River Valley. Except for a couple of trails in northeast North Dakota, there hasn't even been enough snow to groom snowmobile trails until you get farther east into Minnesota, where snowfall has been more abundant and ample wooded areas have kept it from blowing away.
The winter of 2017-18 hasn't been too severe for deer and most other wildlife to this point, but prolonged cold spells could cause problems in some areas if they persist too late into the season, managers say. "Some of these cold days are starting to take their toll a little bit, but it looks like we're working out of that now here for a short period of time," said Jeb Williams, wildlife chief for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck.