Brad Dokken / Forum News Service
The brutal weather of the past couple of weeks has reminded me how much easier it is these days to postpone outdoors excursions until conditions improve. Time was, that rarely happened; I usually went anyway. No more. I’ve written about this in the past, but the most extreme example of braving the elements I’ve experienced occurred Jan. 25, 1987, when two of us spent the day ice fishing on Lake of the Woods.
LAKE OF THE WOODS, Minn. -- I fished in a wheeled ice fishing house for the first time last winter, but I’d never stayed in one until last Sunday night on Lake of the Woods. The mercury dipped into the -25 F range, but fortunately, the furnace and the generator cooperated, and the house was warm and comfortable.
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.
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.