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Last spring, the News Tribune featured a sow bear and her three yearling cubs in story and video after a visit to the bear's den near the Cloquet Forestry Center. The bear was located by signals from her VHF radio collar On March 18 this year, DNR wildlife researchers again located the sow, this time at an above-ground den near the center. She had four cubs with her that likely had been born in January. They each weighed from 3 to 4 pounds, DNR officials said.
April 12 — First Minnesota spring turkey hunting period begins. April 15-16 — Wisconsin youth turkey hunt. April 19 — First Wisconsin turkey hunting period begins. May 5 — Deadline for Minnesota bear hunt lottery. May 6 — Wisconsin inland fishing opener; Wisconsin smallmouth bass catch-and-release season (northern zone) opener; Wisconsin largemouth bass harvest season opener. May 13 — Opening of Minnesota fishing season. May 27 — Wisconsin muskie fishing opener, northern zone.
SAGANAGA LAKE, GUNFLINT TRAIL — When you lean back in your chair and tilt your face to the sun, you can almost believe you're in Mazatlan. The sun's warmth seeps deep into your cheeks, and all you can smell is the sunscreen you smeared on earlier. You half-expect to look up and see a pelican gliding by. But, no. It's a raven sawing the air with its shiny wings, and your chair is sitting atop 25 inches of solid ice. You're fishing for lake trout on Saganaga Lake in March at the end of the Gunflint Trail northwest of Grand Marais.
WISCONSIN'S BRULE RIVER — Brock Haugrud of Lake Nebagamon was beside himself with joy. He was standing knee-deep in the Brule River on Saturday morning, cradling a crimson and silver 26-inch steelhead. Haugrud, 23, had just caught the fish on a fluff of pink yarn. "This is a 'holy smokes' fish!" he exclaimed mostly to himself.
ON THE GUNFLINT TRAIL — After we returned from the lake and parked the snow machines, we ambled toward Mike Berg's garage. Someone toted the big plastic trash bag bulging with lake trout. The bag must have weighed 25 or 30 pounds. It had been a decent day on the lake for five of us. Berg, who owns Seagull Creek Fishing Camp near the tip of the Gunflint Trail, awaited us. There is no running water in the garage this time of year, but he had set out several plastic pails of water for us near the fish-cleaning table.
The GPS-tracked bald eagle that was reported to have been spending time near the Fond du Lac Dam on the St. Louis River on March 8 and 9 ("Eagle with GPS transmitter located near Duluth," March 11 News Tribune) was presumably on its northward migration. However, it has since backtracked to Wabasha, Minn., along the Mississippi River in southeastern Minnesota, said Brett Mandernack of the Eagle Valley Nature Preserve near Glen Haven, Wis. Mandernack banded the eagle in January 2015 at the nature preserve near Glen Haven, Wis.
Saturday — Opening of steelhead fishing season on Wisconsin's Brule River. April 12 — First Minnesota turkey hunting period begins. April 15-16 — Wisconsin youth turkey hunt. April 19 — First Wisconsin turkey hunting period begins. May 5 — Deadline for Minnesota bear hunt lottery. May 6 — Wisconsin inland fishing opener; Wisconsin smallmouth bass catch-and-release season (northern zone) opener; Wisconsin largemouth bass harvest season opener. May 13 — Opening of Minnesota fishing season.
The time is now to increase hunting and fishing license fees, says a coalition of Minnesota hunting, fishing and environmental groups, including several from the Northland. Forty-eight of those groups — deer hunters, anglers and conservationists — have signed on to a letter sent Tuesday to legislative leaders, urging action this session to make incremental increases in license fees before the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has to begin cutting staff or programs.
When steelhead season opens Saturday on Wisconsin's lower Brule River, it's safe to say a lot of anglers will be drifting bits of colored yarn or marble-sized bags of spawn. Those techniques are time-honored presentations for taking steelhead on the Brule as well as on North Shore streams. But recent years have seen a large upswing in the number of anglers using flies to fool Lake Superior's big rainbows during the spring spawning run on the Brule. Fly-fishing guide Damian Wilmot of Superior said the change has been dramatic.
A story my brother told me a couple of years ago still comes to mind on a regular basis. He's a fly fisherman, and he had been out West, fishing one of Montana's premier trout streams. He fishes often with the same guide, and they have become friends through their sport. Jim had cast to a trout — a brown, a rainbow? That detail escapes me. But he had either misplaced his cast or failed to connect when the fish tried to take his offering. In any case, he had missed a good opportunity at a decent fish.