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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So I went blueberry picking last weekend—and enjoyed it. The bucket of blueberries now in my freezer definitely made the few hours I spent in the woods worth the effort. Wild blueberries are smaller than the store-bought version, but taste-wise, there's no comparison; wild blueberries are that much better. Plus, I've found, there's a satisfaction that comes from leaving the woods with a full bucket of blueberries that's difficult to describe.
KAMATSI LAKE, Saskatchewan—We'd been exploring a new part of the lake, catching lake trout with just enough regularity to keep things interesting, when Peter Howard suggested we try a nearby shoreline point at the mouth of a narrows we'd been fishing for the past hour. Good plan, that. Shoreline points often mean dropoffs into deeper water, and dropoffs often mean lake trout, those spotted, grayish-blue packages of fins and power and beauty that head for the depths when surface water temperatures rise past 50 degrees.
CASS LAKE, Minn.—You play the cards you're dealt when picking a date on the calendar to go fishing, and Brian Brosdahl's hand on this June morning was stacked with ample doses of sun, high barometric pressure and light to variable winds. That's hardly a royal flush when the destination is gin-clear Cass Lake and the target is walleyes, a sometimes fickle fish known to favor low-light conditions and choppy waves. No worries, Brosdahl said; we'd get our fish. "They'll still bite," he said. "You just have to appeal to their animal instincts."
MICHIGAN, N.D. — For whatever reasons bears decide to wander where they don't normally wander, a bear decided to wander into Michigan, N.D., and has caused quite the buzz since Wednesday night, June 6, when photos started showing up on social media. Seth Smaage of Michigan took the first photos of the bear about 5 p.m. Wednesday, when it was standing just west of the Leading Edge Equipment John Deere dealership north of U.S. Highway 2 in Michigan, and the photos then were posted on the Community of Michigan, ND Facebook page.
EAST GRAND FORKS, Minn.—Rob Horken might best be remembered as "Ernie the Angler," his longtime alter ego who did weekly summer fishing reports on WDAZ-TV Channel 8 in Grand Forks, but in retirement, Horken keeps his feet in the fishing waters by building custom fishing rods. Any size, any color, Horken probably can build it. The retirement gig is keeping the owner of Rob's Rod Repair and Custom Built Fishing Rods busy in his East Grand Forks shop. As busy as he wants to be, at least, and that's just the way Horken likes it.
BAUDETTE, Minn. — This is a rant — about those new-style gas containers equipped with safety features that make it impossible for most of us to dispense the gasoline they're designed to hold. How do I hate them? Let me count the ways. Someday, I'd like to find the people who developed these safety features and turn them loose on a remote northern Minnesota highway. Then, I'd like to see them try to pour fuel from one of their devil cans into a car that has run out of gas.
ON THE RAINY RIVER, Minn. — For people who fish, there's something about getting in a boat again after a long winter that's difficult to put into words. Excitement is part of it. So is anticipation. Anticipation for the sound of an outboard motor rumbling to life for the first time in months. Anticipation for the sound of water lapping against the hull of the boat, a sound as soothing as it is hypnotic.
GRAND FORKS — The email arrived nearly three weeks ago, hinting at the prospect of a Minnesota walleye opener four of us who got together in 1996 will never forget. "Ice fishing on Lake of the Woods for the opener?" the subject line read. "I'd say the odds are 50/50 right now," the sender said in his email. "We should plan on re-convening our 'Opener Ice Team' for 2018, conditions allowing. "Just saying. ..."
GRAND FORKS — Larry Gadaire was paddling his homemade cedar strip canoe on Lake Renwick near Cavalier, N.D., one day about 25 years ago when he saw someone cruising the lake in a kayak. A cabinet maker by trade, Gadaire did what cabinet makers by trade do when when they see something they'd like build. He built a kayak. And he's been building them ever since. "The worst thing about cedar strip is you never finish sanding," Gadaire said. "So, I started with these, and I've been modifying and changing things" along the way.
GRAND FORKS — Not that many years ago, it was relatively common practice for anglers fishing sturgeon on Lake of the Woods and Rainy River to hoist big fish up by the gill plates and hold them vertically for photos. However well intentioned those anglers might have been, chances are many sturgeon died after being handled that way, even if the fish were released. Fish aren't made to be held out of the water vertically, especially large fish, because the weight of their bodies tears the connective tissue holding their internal organs in place.