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Saturday — Minnesota muskie fishing opener. June 17 — Wisconsin northern zone smallmouth bass harvest season begins. Sept. 1 — Minnesota bear hunting opener. Sept. 2 — Minnesota early goose hunting season. Sept. 16 — Minnesota archery deer and grouse hunting openers; Wisconsin archery and crossbow deer opener; Wisconsin grouse hunting opener. Sept. 23 — Minnesota waterfowl opener (tentative); Minnesota woodcock hunting opener. Oct. 14 — Minnesota pheasant opener.
Here's a list of spring and summer fishing contests in the area. If you'd like your contest listed, email the information to firstname.lastname@example.org . Jaws Derby, Friday through June 4, Lake Superior and St. Louis River, Western Lake Superior Trolling Association, wlsta.org. Headquarters: Barkers Island, Superior. Species: lake trout, salmon brown trout, walleye. Kolar Toyota ALS Walleye Tournament, Saturday, Island Lake. Sponsored by ALS Association, webmn.alsa.org. Species: Walleye, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass.
Under a foreboding sky on a May evening, Stephan Witherspoon stands hip-deep in the outflow below the Island Lake Dam. He's wearing waders and a rain jacket, all in drab green or camouflage. Witherspoon, 43, is fishing for walleyes in quiet water away from the current. The water is actually the Cloquet River, where it continues its journey downstream after being held up to form Island Lake Reservoir.
I remember meeting Enok Olson at his home at 4 a.m. on a summer day in the 1980s. We were going brook trout fishing. I can't tell you where we went. I promised Enok I wouldn't tell. He was 89 when we fished together that day. He has long since gone to the brook trout stream in the sky. But a deal is a deal. Brook trout anglers, a dying breed, are among the most secretive of anglers, primarily because the fish inhabit tiny streams. Populations could easily be decimated by overfishing. I remember Enok telling me a story about another secret brookie spot of his that day.
Sometimes, just standing in the yard at home, I would feel a light tap on the side of my leg. It was barely discernible, the faintest of touches, almost as if I had merely imagined the sensation. I would look down, and there she would be, letting me know she was there. "And, hey, as long as you're just standing there, talking to the neighbor or whatever, how about a little lovin'?" the touch implied. She would have materialized next to me after snapping the heads off some dandelions or plucking a wild raspberry off a bush at the edge of the yard.
It was supposed to be nice canoe float and a little fishing on Wisconsin's Brule River last Saturday. How it ended up that Brett Stoeger, 22, and Rheannon Wenig, 18, were stumbling barefoot and bare-legged through the woods on a cold, damp afternoon requires some explaining. The walking began shortly after their rental canoe swamped and became wedged against a tree lying in the water not far below Cedar Island, several miles upstream from the town of Brule. "I thought I was going to die," said Wenig, 18, of Oshkosh, Wis.
News Tribune outdoors reporter Sam Cook takes a wet walk through Duluth on Sunday morning.
May 27 — Wisconsin muskie fishing opener, northern zone. June 3 — Minnesota muskie fishing opener. June 17 — Wisconsin northern zone smallmouth bass harvest season begins. Sept. 1 — Minnesota bear hunting opener. Sept. 2 — Minnesota early goose hunting season. Sept. 16 — Minnesota archery deer and grouse hunting openers; Wisconsin archery and crossbow deer opener; Wisconsin grouse hunting opener. Sept. 23 — Minnesota waterfowl opener (tentative); Minnesota woodcock hunting opener.
Island Lake is known for its standard 11- and 12-inch walleyes. But David Salo, an Island Lake resident, caught a walleye this past Sunday that contradicts that reputation. Salo, 61, caught a 30½-inch walleye while fishing a narrows in the lake's west basin. He released the fish after taking a photo and did not weigh it. "I wanted to get the fish back in the water," he said. "She swam off strong."
Fisheries biologists with the Minnesota and Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources placed trap nets in the shallows of the St. Louis River this spring to trap muskies. Those nets trapped lots of other species, too, including many, many crappies, said Jeramy Pinkerton, Minnesota DNR fisheries specialist at French River. "We caught almost 7,000 crappies in our nets this spring," Pinkerton said. "The average was like 10 inches long, and the biggest crappies were right around 14 inches. The number and size is pretty amazing."