Field reports: Rainy River walleye season good, short
Walleye season ends Monday on the Rainy River between International Falls and Baudette, and with the late ice-out this year, anglers have had only a brief opportunity to get at the fish. Much of the river between International Falls land Baudette remained ice-covered through Thursday. The Frontier landing opened Tuesday, said Alyse Walton at Royal Dutchman Resort in Baudette. So, anglers were moving fast to get a chance at the river’s big walleyes, which come up from Lake of the Woods to spawn.
“We’ve been full since (Wednesday), and through the weekend we’re full,” Walton said. “Everyone in town is full.”
Anglers are catching plenty of walleyes, some in the mid-20-inch range, Walton said.
A Sportsman’s Lodge guide fishing near Birchdale on Tuesday afternoon caught lots of fish “from eating sized to wall-hangers,” according to an online report from the lodge.
Don’t forget Wisconsin deer meetings Monday
Wisconsin’s annual spring deer herd status meetings will be held in conjunction with the Spring Fish and Wildlife Hearings in counties statewide on Monday . Herd status meetings provide an early opportunity for hunters and others to discuss the current status of the deer herd and ask other deer management questions. For meeting locations, go to www.dnr.wi.gov.
Wisconsin holds off on elk hunt
After evaluating available information and taking into account the severity of this winter, Wisconsin wildlife officials and several key partners have agreed that the state’s first elk hunt in the modern era will have to wait at least one more year.
“We started the year with the birth of about 34 calves, inching us closer to a population of over 200 animals, which is the number required before a hunt will take place,” said Kevin Wallenfang, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources big game ecologist and elk management program leader.
“However, several elk were lost due to a variety of causes this year, and due to the severity of this winter we recently encountered the first incident of winter-related mortality since 2001,” Wallenfang said. “It’s disappointing to those who are eager for the first elk season, but there are a number of positive things to continue focusing on while we help the herd to increase. The long-term success of the elk herd is the priority.”
According to state law, a Wisconsin elk hunt may not take place until the population surpasses 200 animals. Generally located near Clam Lake in Ashland County, Wisconsin’s current elk herd is estimated to be roughly 190 animals after spring calving in 2014.
North Shore streams opening
Several North Shore streams between Duluth and Two Harbors began opening up at midweek or running atop the ice. The Knife River had created a channel and was running free in most places and over the ice in some spots.
The French River also was mostly open in its lower reaches at midweek, rushing down the hill near the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources offices at French River. The river disappeared under the ice of Lake Superior at its mouth.
The Talmadge River also was opening up, and in Duluth, the Lester River was flowing over the falls just below Superior Street. With so much snow in the woods this year, waterfall viewing along Minnesota’s North Shore is likely to be excellent in the next week or two.
No, the smelt aren’t running yet, according to DNR officials. Streams will have to warm significantly before the smelt run begins.
Wisconsin hunters donate venison
Hunters, meat processors and food pantries helped the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and its partners donate more than 90,000 pounds of venison to those in need in 2013. More than 2,000 deer were donated through the DNR deer-donation program and processed packages of ground venison were distributed to food pantries statewide. The number of deer donated decreased by 27 percent compared to 2012, likely a result of fewer deer harvested.
Since the program began in 2000, hunters have donated more than 85,000 deer and more than 3.8 million pounds of venison. The collected meat is distributed to Wisconsin families in need of food assistance.
Spring is happening at Brule
Cathy Khalar at the Brule River State Forest in Brule filed a report on rapidly changing conditions over the past week:
“The ice on the Brule is diminishing rapidly,” Khalar wrote on Thursday. “It was reported that the ice is very close to the mouth of the Brule, and the river is running high and muddy due to the melting snow.
“Many spring migrants are coming back in number, (including) herons, red-winged blackbirds, killdeer, eastern phoebe, turkey vultures, bluebirds, kestrels, woodcock, sand hill cranes, Canada geese and numerous ducks. Skunks and raccoons are emerging from their winter dens. Willow catkins (pussy willows) are showing up on the willows.”