Brian S. Peterson
NISSWA — By moonlight or by sunshine, it didn’t seem to matter. Gov. Mark Dayton had nary a bite in two outings Saturday in the 2014 Governor’s Fishing Opener on Gull Lake. But that there was sunshine for the second part of Dayton’s fishing marathon made up for a lack of fish. Add guide Ray Gildow’s brand of sunshine to the mix and it was good day.
The recovering walleye population on Lake Mille Lacs might get protection from a couple of unlikely fellow Mille Lacs inhabitants this opening weekend and through the 2014 open-water season.
It wasn’t that long ago that the only walleye news out of Leech Lake and Upper Red Lake was bad news. No longer. According to the DNR, test netting results on Leech show a strong walleye population as the Cass County lake continues to rebound from walleye-fishing lows of the early to mid-2000s. And on Upper Red, the DNR announced that its winter fishing regulations will include a significantly wider slot limit. Upper Red also is on the rebound after being closed to walleye fishing through the early and mid-2000s while the population was being re-established.
It’s safe to say that there was more disappointment than celebration on the Minnesota wolf hunt front on Wednesday. That’s when lottery results were announced for the first-ever hunt. And with more than 23,000 applicants for 6,000 licenses, nearly three out of four missed out on the chance to participate in this historic hunt.
You don’t need to be one of the anglers who frequent the many fishing holes off Green’s Point, or a waterfowl hunter who for years has been drawn to this stretch of the Mississippi River this time of year. Nor must you be a “ricer” in this wild-ricing haven to know the value of this land. Then again, because of all that, it’s difficult to put a price on this property.
They’re regarded as the top two walleye fisheries in the state, Lake of the Woods and Lake Mille Lacs. A recent AIM tournament and now the Minnesota Tournament Trail Championship would indicate that Lake of the Woods is an unequivocal No. 1, both in the number of walleyes and the number of trophy fish. A pair of Lake Mille Lacs anglers probably wouldn’t disagree.
It was dark and quiet, not unlike hunting at dawn or dusk. And, as with most archery hunts, there was the waiting game, too. Payton Johnston, 8, of Brainerd was a bit anxious at first. But after a little coaching by his father, Jeremy, he settled in and, after a dozen or so arrows, was making the occasional kill shot, his dad figured. Trophy elk and bighorn sheep and the like. They were all there for the taking on the outskirts of Brainerd. Huh?
Walking through the crowd at the Minnesota State Fair with Moonlander fat bike in tow, Aaron Hautala got some rather interesting looks. Just wait’ll folks get a load of the klunkers. Hautala, a member of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew that has helped keep up the world-class Cuyuna mountain bike trails, took to the DNR outdoor stage to talk mountain biking at the Great Minnesota Get-Together recently, which says something of the ascent of the sport in Minnesota.
When Gull Lake was listed as infested with zebra mussels in October 2010, it was a package deal: All the lakes in the chain also were categorized as infested with the aquatic invasive species. So while recent reports of zebra mussels in Round Lake in the Gull chain didn’t shock an area invasive species specialist with the DNR, a fourth-generation cabin owner on Round was both surprised and saddened when zebra mussels were found Monday on a dock and in the water near his cabin.
Each found their mark somewhere on the makeshift target. And, in area business circles, so has Holm. Even though it’s not quite what he was shooting for. That Holm has established a successful side business doing what he loves is something special, particularly when you consider that businesses — side or main — as a whole have struggled in recent years in the greater Brainerd lakes area. Times are still tough. And Holm still has a tough time swallowing this whole business thing, regardless of his success. For Holm, growth comes at a price he’s not ready to pay.