Issue 2 • Edition 6
Featured in this issue
CALL OF THE CANADIAN SHIELD: A PHOTO ESSAY BY: TIM ANDERSON
PLUS MORE! • Camp Classic
By: Brian S. Peterson
• Fishing Small Lakes for Big Fish and Big Fun!
By: Jim Kalkofen
• It’s Hip To Wade
By: Bill Marchel
• Attracting Orioles
By: Judd Brink
• Your Best Shot
Read Online: www.brainerddispatch.com or www.brainerdoutdoors.com
5/18/11 6:56 PM
5/18/11 6:56 PM
Welcome WOW it is such a relief to see green and feel the breeze again. We just had the chance to participate in another opener. Fishing in soft water is here again and we’re playing with the man toys. Such a long winter followed by such a short summer season. No wonder we appreciate it so much. We who live, love and exist in the Brainerd Lakes area just love our summers. A recent illustration of that is a newly completed project by the Rotary to promote the reason why people like to live in the Brainerd Lakes Area. There were over 1000 people that participated and over 270 shot taken. Each shot included signage espousing why those in the photo love living in our area. After my unofficial and subjective count I estimated that close to a third mentioned the lakes, water or an outdoor activity of some kind. We who live, love and exist in the Brainerd Lakes area not only love our summers but we love our Outdoors too. A while back I read an article about enjoying the natural beauty around us. It includ-
By: Tim Bogenschutz
ed a quote that I liked and I was taken back by the author’s name that followed. It went like this…”The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious…He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand in awe, is as good as dead” (Albert Einstein). He was wise man besides being a brilliant futurist. As for his qu ot e … nature is a mysterious and intimidating thing to many of us, but is also awe inspiring and can be packed full of emotional sensory overload. We of the Brainerd Lakes Area or anyone that comes to our beautiful area have experienced and felt the outdoors first hand, many of us each and everyday. Because of that I declare we are anything but dead, The Brainerd Lakes Area is alive and well. Have a sun drenched, fun but safe summer. And remember to stop and smell the roses or your fishy fingers, whichever you prefer.
T I M A . B O G E N S C H U T Z , Brainerd Dispatch Publisher. For half a century I have been drawn to the outdoors. My interests have varied from hunting, the love of wildlife photography, to hiking, canoeing, and fishing.
Welcome ...................................... 3 A Classic Weekend .................... 5 Fishing Small Lakes ..................... 8 It’s Hip To Wade ......................... 11 Attracting Orioles ...................... 14 Rapala Lure Development ...... 16 Don’t Fight the Bite! The Versatile Walleye Angler .... 18 Fun in the Sun ............................ 21 Memory Lane ............................ 24
It’s Hip To Wade Page 18
Don’t Fight the Bite! Give Walleyes What They Want to Eat, Where and When They Want to Eat It!
506 James Street • P.O. Box 974 Brainerd, MN 56401 (218) 829-4705 www.brainerddispatch.com www.brainerdoutdoors.com Visit us on Facebook 4
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Service Directory/Calendar ..... 25 Your Best Shot ............................ 26
STAFF: Publisher .................................... Tim Bogenschutz Advertising Director .........................Sam Swanson Copy Editor ............Roy Miller and Brian Peterson Marketing / Special Projects Coordinator ... Nikki Lyter Magazine Layout ..................................Andy Goble Ad Design .......................................... Jeff Dummer, Andy Goble, Jennifer Fuchs, Lisa Henry, Angie Hoefs, Cindy Spilman and Sue Stark Sales.................................................. Dave Wentzel Online Sales Manager ........................... Phil Seibel Outdoor Traditions is a trademarked magazine published by the Brainerd Dispatch, P.O. Box 976, Brainerd, MN 56401. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. ®2010 Cover Photo by:
A Classic Weekend Tradition Continues with Camp Confidence’s Golf Classic and Fishing Classic
FOR YEARS, THE CONFIDENCE LEARNING CENTER’S CAMP CLASSIC WEEKEND HAS PROVEN TO BE JUST THAT.
A classic weekend. Expect more of the same with the 38th annual Golf Classic and 28th annual Fishing Classic, scheduled together June 17-18 out of Madden’s Resort. Fittingly, for the second consecutive year, the Golf Classic will be at The Classic course at Madden’s, regarded as one of the top courses in the state — one of many reasons the event remains so popular. The field of 36 four-man teams fills up fast, and this year is no different. “It was one of the first charitable events at The Classic,” said Bob Slaybaugh, program director at Confidence Learning Center, who has been around for 21 Camp Classic weekends. “We knew it (having the event at The Classic) would be a hit with golfers and it was right away. It filled up almost instantly after it was publicized and it’s almost filled up again.” The event, which started at the old Brainerd Country Club before moving to Cragun’s Resort and then The Classic, is steeped in history. And celebrity.
“The biggest evolution of the event is it started as one of the first celebrity golf events in the state of Minnesota,” Slaybaugh said.“There were golf figures through the NHL, the Vikings and so on. You paid to play on a team with a celebrity.There was (Minnesota hockey legend) John Mariucci, (former Vikings linebacker) Scott Studwell, (former Vikings defensive back) Joey Browner ... But it evolved away from the celebrity part because, as the event grew, people were competing for celebrities because the style of the events was so successful. There became additional costs for celebrities to be involved. So our donors told us to drop the celebrities. Everyone was nervous that first year after that, but it filled up right away. “Last year was another big evolution and that was moving the golf event to the Madden’s Classic course. There was nothing wrong with the old country club or the Legacy at Cragun’s. However, as a charitable golf event, not as many of the participants had the opportunity to golf on The Classic course.” Regardless of the venue, the event has become a tradition for many. “Now there are a lot of repeat (players) on the golf,” said
A participant teed off in the 2010 Camp Confidence Golf Classic at The Classic at Madden’s.
A pair of nice-sized bass taken in last year’s Camp Confidence Fishing Classic.
Photos Provided by Confidence Learning Center/Pam Sachs
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A line of boats navigated the canal from Madden’s Resort to Gull Lake in the 2010 Camp Confidence Fishing Classic. Sarah Sellnow, special events coordinator at Confidence Learning Center.“It’s a who’s who of Brainerd out here to golf and raise money for the camp.” The Fishing Classic on Gull Lake has evolved into a who’s who of the angling world, with fishing legends Al and Ron Lindner, Nick Adams, Marv Koep, Ron Schara and others helping to get the event off the ground. “We had been running the celebrity golf tournament for many years, but there were a lot of celebrity fishermen in the area who didn’t like golf,” Slaybaugh said of the creation of the Fishing Classic. “The first three years it was a small event. Mostly just members of the Nisswa Guide League. It was a good-old-boys system. But the local fishermen decided to take it to a new level.They really brought it up to the level it’s at today with 80 to 100 boats. “It draws in pro anglers and guides from all over the state. They donate their time, equipment, boat and gas to come to Brainerd and stay in Brainerd. It’s a lot of fun for the guides or pros because a lot of their time is spent fishing competitively. In this event they get to all come together and it’s about their friendships. About supporting the campers.” Monies from Camp Classic weekend benefit Camp Confidence, a year-round outdoor education and recreation center for persons of all ages with developmental disabilities. “With the funds from the Ice Fishing Extravaganza and the Fishing Classic and general support, 25 percent (of funds raised for Camp Confidence) comes from fishing
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events and personnel,” Slaybaugh said. “Fishermen get it — that they’re blessed to live the type of life they live and they’re willing to give something back.” And have a lot of fun doing it. “It’s for charity, and for the guides, it’s a lot of camaraderie,” Sellnow said.“It’s not a competitive event for them. It’s a fun event for them. It’s more relaxing than their money tournaments. They enjoy it. A lot of pro anglers during the summer compete. But this is one where they can kick back.” Like at the Golf Classic, there are typically a lot of familiar faces at the Fishing Classic, too. “At least half are repeat (participants),” Sellnow said. “People keep coming back. They mark it on their calendars.They know it’s Father’s Day weekend, so you see a lot of father-son combos. Maybe it was a Father’s Day present from the son. It’s a big draw.” For more information on the Camp Classic weekend, call Confidence Learning Center at 828-2344 or go to www.campconfidence.com/.
B R I A N S . P E T E R S O N , outdoors editor at the Dispatch, may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5864. To follow him on Twitter, go to www.twitter.com/brian_speterson. For his blogs, go to www.brainerddispatch.com.
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Big Fish Big Fun! and
and, most importantly, small lakes usually aren’t on many “favorite” lists as destinations. That doesn’t mean they should be overlooked. Fishing pressure might be the grandkids fishing off the dock. It could be one person casting a spinnerbait for bass or pike — whatever bites. Some of these lakes receive considerable fishing pressure when the bluegills are spawning and big fish become accessible. Or when an angler needs that early season rust knocked loose by the tug of a largemouth bass. Otherwise, many Minnesota fishermen target walleyes in traditional, larger lakes and overlook the smaller lakes. A
SAYS IT ALL.
Lakes. More lakes. Big lakes like Mille Lacs. Small lakes also gladly accept their inclusion on Minnesota’s lake list. It’s almost impossible to count them. Look at the pretty blue color on an area map. Lakes occupy a significant chunk of geography and exist all around us. Small lakes are also productive fisheries. Some rank up there as great fisheries
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number of smaller lakes become weed-choked and don’t appear very hospitable to anglers throughout the summer. Launch ramps on many of these lakes are sand or worse. Sometimes anglers slip a 12- or 14 foot boat in, and must walk it out to deeper water before jumping aboard. A boat that cannot be lifted or slid by two men is too big to get into these waters. Canoes may be an option. A definition might be in order, and my small lake could be from a few acres to 50, 60 or a bit more. Another definition deals with fish. Panfish predominate. Add bass to most; pike to quite a few. Walleyes exist in only a couple, unless their populations are enhanced by property owners, streams connected to nearby walleye lakes or occasionally by the DNR. Crappie year-classes and size fluctuates significantly. Smallmouth bass aren’t a factor as a rule. A largemouth bass angler could pick-up a spinnerbait and toss it at every likely looking spot while moving around the shoreline. At docks and boat lifts he would flip a worm, and after a round or two might comb the weedline depths with a plastic worm. If the lake offered a hump topping off at 10 to 25 feet, the same set of presentations combined with a crankbait would be utilized. In the matted weed-slop later in the season, a weedless “frog” lure snaked across the surface would be in order. But that’s making life too easy. That’s because small lakes don’t always fish like small lakes. They require some planning and research. For instance, before heading to a new spot, pull up a lake map from the DNR lake finder website (mndnr). At least print a map, and look for main
Photos provided by Jim Kalkofen
lake points, islands, sharp drop-offs, bottom composition, etc. The written description usually talks about numbers of homes, visibility, weeds, fish test-netting results and size, stocking data and more. If the lake is a frequent victim of winter kills, that will also be noted. This website also has a feature that shows how to drive to these lakes. A good small lake sleuth listens. When someone mentions that Uncle Joe caught some 10-inch sunnies on Lake X, file this tidbit of news away. If you happen to see a photo of little Tommy with a 5-pound largemouth bass, take note. Big fish run in cycles, and small lakes with minimal fishing pressure don’t give up their secrets as quickly as a hot bite on the Mille Lacs flats. A typical exploration would start out for this author by driving slowly to the access point when going around the lake, and stopping to visit any local working in his lakefront yard. The number of tire tracks and/or trailers parked at the landing would also be noted, as would boats that might be on the water. Once launched, the water color and water level would be observed. So would shoreline weeds like bulrushes and cattails. Is it covered with lily pads? Sometimes the tips of cabbage weeds can be seen in mid-lake areas, indicating a shallower spot that would be surrounded by deep water. Not everything is on maps, especially maps that were created 60 or 70 years ago. The next step is to decide where to start. I always start right at the landing, and usually begin shallow with a surface lure. Casting and looking shows what an area holds. A blue heron flying low will spook bluegills, and their mad
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haste to escape this potential predator’s shadow is a dead giveaway of their presence. That might mean down-sizing and chasing bluegills. It would also mean that bass would be holding in the same area; they eat sunnies. Fleet Farm has a wide assortment of weedless surface baits, from Scum Frogs to Northland’s new weedless spoon. Fish them with a steady retrieve. When approaching a dock, pitch a weedlessrigged worm or a Wacky Worm on a weedlesshook as far under the structure as possible. It won’t take long to determine if the bass are holding shallow. The next stop would be outside the emergent weeds, in cabbage or coontail weeds. Here, spinnerbaits or suspending twitch baits like a Husky Jerk, Mimic Minnow or Slurpies Jerk Shad would be used, while searching for bass or pike. Since most lakes hold both species, use a wire leader. When tossing quarter or half-ounce spinnerbaits or twitch baits, use wire leaders of about 10 to 15 pound test, either tied direct (Tyger wire) or to a snap on one end and a swivel on the “tie” end of the 6 to 7 inch leader. A popperstyle surface bait also attracts fish in these depths, usually 6 to 10 feet of water. This is also a good spot to find sunnies. A bobber setup with a tiny jig (1/32 to 1/16th ounce) about 3-feet below will work. Bait works, but for the same results, use 2-inch plastic grub tails of PowerBait or Mister Twister. Slowly reel and stop the retrieve. The next spot, and it won’t take long to get there is the deep outside weed edge. With a 1/4th ounce weedless jig like the Northland Weed Weasel or the Lindy No Snagg Veg-e-Jig, rigged with a 3 to 5 inch plastic grub/worm/ lizard/paddle-tail/craw plastic, the angler is ready for more action. Cast and retrieve parallel to the weeds, but close so you feel weeds from time to time. Even cast into the weeds a short distance, and hop and pop the jig to the edge and alongside deep weeds. Again a Tyger wire leader tied directly to the jig is in order, and doesn’t affect the number of bass, but adds insur-
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ance when pike bite. Deep weed edges also hold some of the largest bluegills and crappies. The same tiny jigs and plastic without a bobber on the line, and slowly dropped and worked back to the boat produce amazing results. If a lake has some huge pike, larger cranks or jerk baits on the weed edges will get a reaction. If a hump exists, search for the largest pike in the lake to be lurking in the weeds on top or the edges of humps. They also like the ends of points off islands. When motoring slowly across the main basins of small lakes, watch the graph for suspended fish. They will likely be schools of crappies, waiting for your small jig to tantalize them into biting. Gear for a small-lake angler is very basic. The rods, reels and tackle are personal, but equipment for a good fishing day includes a drift-sock to slow the small boat down, a good set of Polaroid glasses, a depthfinder, a push-pole, and high on the list but not absolutely necessary is an electric trolling motor (which also means a 12volt battery). Warning: Small lakes are vulnerable to over-harvest, not to over-fishing. All sportsmen should release most of their fish and all the larger specimens on small lakes. The biggest bass and pike keep the small panfish in check, as nature intended. It’s amazing how close to wilderness a small lake becomes when the only boat out there is yours, even though you might be only a few miles from town. Have fun on the small lakes this season, and say “Howdy” to me, because that’s where I’ll be.
J I M K A L K O F E N has been in and around
boats all his life. He has been director of the largest walleye tournament circuits for two decades, and was inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.
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It’s Hip To Wade IT’S COMFORTING TO KNOW BASS FISHING
success and expensive, high-tech equipment don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. For those willing to don waders or hip boots, good fishing is readily available.
There was a time when fishing afoot was a necessity for me. Although times have changed, I still love to wade fish while my boat sits idle at home in the garage.
The low light periods of sunrise and sunset offer the wading angler the best chances to catch bass. Photo provided by Bill Marchel
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One pleasant, cool mid-June evening last summer, I donned my waders and splashed anxiously into a lake not far from town, about to wade-fishing by choice. I was where I wanted to be, fishing the way I wanted to fish. Just having the time to think about it was refreshing. It was roughly 7:30, the largemouth witching hour, when I caught my first bass, a chunky two-pounder. The fish hit a floating frog imitation. A few minutes later another fish blasted my surface lure. I set the hook and reeled in a similar sized largemouth.
nearly impossible whereas a wading angler can sort of “tip toe through the tules” to within casting distance of a likely bass haunt. Because a minimum of equipment is needed, wade fishing is always an affordable option. Another attractive aspect of this stealthy style of fishing is the wildlife you’ll encounter. On most wade fishing forays I jump mallards, wood ducks and blue-winged teal from the shoreline vegetation. Even deer occasionally wade into the shallows to dine on aquatic plants, or to get a drink. Secluded lake shores abound with other wildlife. Redwinged blackbirds are constant companions. The males flash their scarlet wing patches as they sing their territorial song from swaying bulrush perches. I encounter herons, loons, and of course, those noisy red-necked grebes. Other competitive anglers, those of the winged variety like bald eagles and ospreys, glide on rigid wings low overhead, eyeing the water for prey. A wading fisherman should watch for signs of feeding bass. Minnows or small panfish hurtling through the air like tiny sailfish are being chased by a predator, most likely a bass. Listen for largemouth as they break the water’s surface in pursuit of dragonflies, or loudly slurp down a frog or other prey.
This hefty shallow water largemouth bass fell for a floating frog imitation. Most wading anglers seek largemouth bass, although panfish, pike and even walleyes, can be caught without the aid of a boat. There’s something special about sneaking among the bulrushes, hip deep in a bass’ haunt, while attempting to place accurate casts and anticipating a big bass gulping your offering. In shallow hard-to-reach areas a wading angler actually has an advantage over those in a boat. Trolling motors often bog down in heavy vegetation, and only diehard anglers include a push pole in their gear. Maneuvering a boat quietly into some of these secluded bass haunts is A wading angler will encounter many species of wildlife, like this osprey that just caught a sunfish.
Most any weedless lures will catch bass. The author’s favorites are the top water frog imitations because of the visual delight when a bass explodes on the lures.
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Cast your lure toward any commotion. Those disturbances can be as obvious as a huge boil, or as subtle as a slight twitch of a bulrush. It was just such a disturbance that lead me to my next bass that June evening. About 50 feet ahead of me something beneath the water’s surface bumped a bulrush. An accurate cast landed my faux frog close to the spot. Wham! A bass hit. Since most shallow-water largemouth will relate to some type of vegetation, heavy tackle is required to land a fish. When you are belly-deep in water a long rod with a stiff backbone is needed to get a bass’ head up. A largemouth allowed to burrow into the bulrushes will wrap up and escape. My casting reel is filled with 30 pound test braided line and I employ a seven and one half foot-long Photos provided by Bill Marchel
A wading angler will often have an entire secluded shoreline to him or herself. Just you, the bass and the wildlife. heavy action rod. It was nearly dark when I turned and waded back in the direction of my truck, casting ahead of me as I sloshed along. In all, I had caught ten bass. With the lakeâ€™s surface like glass, one final bass inhaled my surface lure after a long cast to a clump of bulrushes. This fish was bigger and it tail-walked several times before bull dogging into the rushes. Ultimately I landed the bass. I quickly weighed it and snapped a few pictures before releasing it. My closing catch of the evening weighed just over 3 pounds. Suddenly it seemed it was dark. Clipping my lure to an
eyelet on my rod I waded toward shore while a swarm of hungry mosquitoes haunted me. I was on way home in short order, happy there was no trailer to back into the peaceful lake or boat to load.
B I L L M A R C H E L is a wildlife and outdoors photographer and writer who lives near Fort Ripley. His work has appeared in many regional and national publications and he writes a monthly column for the Brainerd Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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T H E B A L T I M O R E O R I O L E is a member of the Blackbird family (icteridae) and arrives in the Brainerd area about the second week of May. The Baltimore Oriole was named after Lord Baltimore who discovered Maryland. The state of Maryland didnâ€™t adopt the bird until 1947 as its official state bird. Minnesota is home to two Oriole species the Orchard and Baltimore Orioles. The Orchard Oriole is more commonly found in the southern half of the state whereas the Baltimore Oriole is generally found throughout much of Minnesota. At one time, the Baltimore Oriole had its name changed to the Northern Oriole as it was thought to breed with the Bullucks Oriole wherever their ranges overlapped. But the American Ornithologist Union reverted back to the Baltimore Oriole after more DNA testing confirmed the separate species. Over the next 5-10 years, you will see many more name changes to birds as they become reorganized by more genetic study and testing. This will also have a huge impact on field guide books as they will need to be updated and republished in the future. The bright orange and black color of a male oriole can be easily identified while the less colorful females are a pale yellow and olive green. An adult male Baltimore Oriole has a black face and head with the entire chest being bright orange. They both have white wing bars and are about 9 inches tall. The females usually arrive about 3-5 days later than the males, with pairs commonly seen in mid May as they prepare to nest. Most of the Orioles spend their winters in Central and South America, while a few are found in the southern United States. An occasional bird will spend a winter here relying on bird feeders but that is not very common. On their winter range they tend to seek out the shade grown
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coffee plantations were larger trees exist. So by drinking shade grown coffee, you can help preserve critical habitat (tropical rainforests) and promote better bird conservation. The continued loss of breeding or wintering habitat has caused a great deal of concern for many species of birds. Orioles, like are other neotropical migrants who migrate between North America and Central or South America, change their diets with the seasons. Here in Minnesota, on their breeding range the diet consists mostly of insects during late spring and summer, while their winter grounds provide a diet of more seeds, fruit and nectar. They are also very fond of the forest Tent Caterpillar outbreaks that occur in our deciduous forests. Attracting Orioles to your back yard can be done with oranges and jelly. Most feeders have a dish or a cup for the jelly and a wooden dowel to hold an orange half in place. Orioles will also visit nectar feeders using sugar water that is a 4:1 ratio of water and sugar. It is common to see Orioles using your hummingbird feeders so try and provide them with one of their own. There are many feeders that allow you to feed all three foods at the same time, nectar, jelly and oranges. A new food that is gaining in popularity used in feeding birds is mealworms. I like to use the medium size mealworms for feeding birds they seem to be the right size for many birds. Many of our neotropical birds travel long distances covering thousands of miles in short periods of time and are tired and hungry once they arrive. Providing this live food source helps them refuel much more efficiently and is the best way to mimic their natural insect diet. The best location in Brainerd to purchase live mealworms is the Little Farm Market located at the east end of town. I have noticed more birds visiting my mealworm feeders than the jelly, oranges and nectar. With live food present can encourage Photos provided by Judd Brink
Orioles to nest and provide a reliable food source for the parents to feed their young. This also provides a wonderful opportunity to increase and enhance the number and variety of birds visiting your bird feeding station this summer. Once they arrive you can find them in city parks, backyards, wooded edges and open areas with scattered tall trees. They seem to seek out these areas that are near water and you can attract them to your yard with a water bath. In our area they are seen using Birch, Oak, Aspen and Cottonwood trees to place their nest. The female Oriole constructs a very unusual nest that some would describe as a A Female Oriole “grass sock” hanging from a tree limb. This basket type nest suspends using large pieces of hair, grasses and fine fibers interwoven to support the nest. The nest is constructed in three to five days and is placed high in a tree on an outer branch. In some locations where birch trees occur you may see several old nests from past years. You can purchase and supply nesting material near your oriole feeder to help them with their nest. They start nesting in June and have three to five eggs that hatch in about 15 days or so. If you have feeders for them they will bring their young starting in August and will stay until the fall migration. If they are successful they tend to return to same area to nest and raise young again. By creating the correct habitat for Orioles using the proper feeders and providing water you too can
encourage them to nest in your yard this year. Seeing the first Oriole is a sure reminder that spring is here and is time to take down the winter feeders and replace with jelly, oranges and nectars. By using a feeder that is orange in color can attract them much easier and faster as they are seeking out a food source. It’s best to place the feeder in an open area to start with but can be gradually relocated for better viewing if necessary. Again with any bird feeder it’s very important to make sure the feeder is properly maintained on a routine basis. This becomes more important as the feeder is susceptible of high temperatures and rain which can cause the food or nectar to go bad A Male Oriole quickly. Remember when you can provide a safe and clean feeding environment you can increase the number and variety of colorful songbirds that visit your backyard. I hope you can attract more Orioles this summer with these helpful hints so you can be successful in adding some color to your garden or backyard naturally. Happy Birding!
J U D D B R I N K is the owner of MN Backyard
Birds offering birdscaping packages using bird feeding stations for your enjoyment. We install and maintain bird feeding stations for commercial and residential customers in the Brainerd Lakes Area. Judd also leads bird-guided walks and tours in the area. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
An Oriole nest
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RA P A L
Lure Development Comes from Boat Seats Around the World THE
Rapala, operates with an “Old World” philosophy. Mark Fisher, Director of Field Promotions said, “Our goal is to manufacture quality products that the average angler can afford and have success with.” He said an “enchanting” heritage still exists at Rapala. The lures are made in Finland; the VMC hooks are still made in their original factory in France; other brand acquisitions are built around the world. “It takes longer for us to bring a product to market than most companies, because anything new must have world applications,” he said. For instance, when the X-Rap Shads were in final testing, the walleye guys drooled with anticipation; so did the bass fraternity; and in Australia, the Great Barrier Reef fishermen were pumped. In the Netherlands, the Zander crowd was excited. “We scrutinize where lures will end up,” he said. “Ideas and trends come from the boat seats, and our new products spin off the traditional floater and the Shadstyle lures,” he continued. The sources of input come from bass, walleye and in-shore guides, media partners, anglers and tournament anglers. The sales team helps answer the key question,“What’s needed?” Rapala also examines strategic needs, competitive thrusts and products that have mass appeal and serve cross-over markets. “Lures for Canada are different from those in Spain, and different from the needs of Australian anglers, and different than the US,” Fisher said,“We work independently, yet in harmony with the rest of the world to develop the next best thing.” Fisher said, “We can only develop so many projects in a year. Right now, I have the 2013 and 2014 proposed introductions in my office. I often forget what year it is.” One classic example involved the introduction of the Deep Tail-Dancer. The need to reach extreme depths came from the walleye tournaments. Fisher said,“They wanted deeper-running, bigger bait with a more radical wobble than the deep Husky Jerk. They wanted special ‘attractor’
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colors for suspended fish. In those Professional Walleye Trail days, we had a magic box with all the color combos. A group of about 12 guys settled on the best color pattern of a firetiger body with red belly. We called it Bleeding Tiger, and by the third year, the shelves were empty after the word got out how hot this lure was.” In the bass tournament game, pro angler David Fritts is a fine-tuning magician. “He wanted a balsa bait geared to hit specific depths. The “Dives-to” series was an instant success, and the company is still burning through them at retail. “We always listen to guys like David, because pro anglers are among the elite fine-tuners. A handful of walleye guys are fine-tuners, and they know action, vibration, flash, depth, size and tell us. They are very valuable,” he said. In the Rapala line-up, Fisher talked about the lures starting with the original floater. With the Husky Jerk and XRap, details came from the on-water team, and the product line was extended. He looks at the floater being at the head of the family tree with other lures following in succession. It would probably be safe to say that every walleye angler has at least one Shad Rap. Some have hundreds;
some more. “Customers like Shad Raps,” Fisher said. Over the years, the line grew to include jointed Shad Raps, Minnow Raps, Glass Shad Raps, Rattling Shad Raps, and the future may bring even more fish-catching models. “As each came
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to market, we wanted to keep our loyal customers who had a high confidence level with Shad Raps. Fisher recalled a classic example of how the development process was instrumental in creating instant awareness of a new lure. Keith Kavajecz was competing in the PWT Championship on the Missouri River in Bismarck. He was trolling leadcore, and using a prototype lure, called the “Red Devil” by pro anglers like Scott Fairbairn and others. “They knew this was the lure, and the guys helped each other, an aspect of the walleye tournaments I admire and respect,” Fisher said. Kavajecz won the 2002 Championship with the jointed rattling Shad Rap, and the rest is history. When the “office” is working on a specific prototype that is privileged information. Michigan pro Chief Papineau was catching river walleyes in open water with jigging Raps, and leading a big tournament. Fisher couldn’t clue in other tournament anglers at the same event. “We want them to share with us throughout the trial and error process, and when they are successful with an action or color or even a new application for an old bait, we can’t betray this confidence,” he said. The jigging Rap has found even more open water applications, thanks to what Al Lindner discovered last year. “It’s a triggering sensation, and really works,” the local Fishing Hall of Fame angler said. While field-testing Trigger-X, a biodegradable product, a Florida angler won a redfish tournament. Rapala promoted at retail and completely sold out of the product in a brief period. Tournament results do drive buying decisions. Since Rapala began prior to the existence of tournaments, their tournament philosophy developed along with them. In the early PWT years, when Rapala was actively involved, Fisher said it was a great foundation with promotions, radio,TV, magazines, tournaments – a package deal -- with significant support. “Now, we love what tournament anglers tell us; what they need; ideas for growth; suggestions that will help others catch fish. These guys and gals let the brand talk when they describe why and how they catch fish. What they do today is not much different than when Ray Ostrom and Ron Weber started the company.” future? “Product deWhat about the future a work in velopment is always alw look at products progress. We lo extend our line-up that will exte cross-over the species and cross-o line and the geography he said. Fished lines,” h concluded, “We are a concl manufacturer interman ested in growing este existing brands for ex general anglers, ge the fun guys and tournament anglers.” tourna Photos provided by Jim Kalkofen
New Products for 2011 include the Crankin’ Rap, the Clackin’ Rap and the Clackin’ Minnow. The specs: Crankin’ Rap: This round-bodied lure has a pre-set running depth. The number 3 and 5 sizes run 2 to 5 feet with their square bills. The numbers 8, 10 and 14 feature round lips and run 7 to 14 feet. The depth is displayed on the bill. This Rap has a loud rattle and an enticing wobble. It’s a “bass treat,” but pike will eat it up. Clackin’ Rap: This lipless lure has a sound chamber with external metal discs to transmit a distinctive sound and maximum vibration. Bass, pike and walleye anglers cast and allow it to sink to the desired depth before retrieving. It comes in 19 colors and four sizes from 2 ½ to 3 ½ inches. Clackin’ Minnow: This slow-sinking minnow-shaped lure has the Rapala “wounded minnow” action with a built-in Clackin’ cadence rattle. The two sizes run 3 to 5 feet, come in 16 colors, and attract primarily bass, walleye and pike.
J I M K A L K O F E N has been in and around
boats all his life. He has been director of the largest walleye tournament circuits for two decades, and was inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.
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Don’t Fight the Bite! Give Walleyes What They Want to Eat, Where and When They Want to Eat It! “ M I S T E R W A L L E Y E ” Gary Roach has a comforting philosophy regarding when to go fishing. You might assume it’s,“Go anytime you can!,” which is a mighty nice rule to live by. Instead, his trademark saying is,“They don’t start biting until you get there!” Roach suggests that you don’t necessarily have to be on the water at sunrise to catch walleyes.You can sleep in until a respectable hour, and still have a good chance at catching fish once you arrive at the lake. But only if you fish correctly for the conditions at the time of day, that is! And if you are versatile enough to show walleyes what they want to eat, where and when they want to eat it.
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Photos provided by Dave Csanda
Case in point: bite until you get there,” assuming you’re fishing in the Assume you’re not an early bird, and that you sleep in, proper locations. have a leisurely breakfast, and don’t start fishing until the OK, here’s another strategy that applies to midday fishsun has risen fairly high in the sky. By this time of day, sun- ing in deep areas, all summer long. We’ll use nearby Mille light is already penetrating shallow water to a substantial Lacs Lake as an example, where these patterns are well degree, unless wind or waves break up sunlight penetra- known by local walleye fishermen. Take note: They will tion beneath the surface. By the time you arrive at the likely apply on other Brainerd area walleye lakes throughlake, any walleyes inhabiting the shallows will likely have out summer as well. eaten their fill and settled down into a ho-hum attitude of On Mille Lacs, there’s usually an excellent deep bite for reduced activity. In all walleyes all summer, probability, you missed beginning in very early a great shallow-water summer when walleyes morning bite for aggresfirst migrate out the sive walleyes feeding edges of midlake mud near rocky shorelines, flats in about 22 to 32 perhaps casting or longfeet of water. Early on, line trolling crankbaits you simply can’t beat in 5 or so feet of water. livebait rigs, using jumBut don’t worry. Othbo leeches as bait. This er groups of walleyes seems to dovetail with a in the lake have yet time of year when wallto eat their fill. In fact, eyes feed heavily on inthey’re just starting to sects like mayflies and think about biting, right small fish flies emerging about the time you get from the mud. Walleye there! anglers circle the mudDuring early summer, flats, slowly backtrolling sunlight begins penleeches from late May etrating down into the Mister Walleye Gary Roach treats kids from the Onamia area through early July, and 20- to 30-foot depths to a little early-summer, livebait rigging walleye roundup on catch tons of walleyes. the Mille Lacs mud flats in June. at around 8 to 9 am. But lo and behold, Chances are that lake-wide, the “walleye bite” is shifting the ferocious “leech bite” suddenly tapers off in early July, to deep-water livebait rigging, as walleyes at those depths even though you can still clearly see walleyes on your are activated by changing light levels. If so, you’d best be electronics, using the same areas they did before. The fish prepared to fish deep-water structures with live leeches, haven’t left—but they have changed their feeding preferminnows or nightcrawlers throughout the midday hours. ences.You have to change along with them! Forget about the shallow bite until later in the day. At this time of year, switch to three-way rigs and 2-hook Remain on the lake until evening, however, and the deep finesse spinner harnesses, baited with nightcrawlers. Fibite often fades, with the shallow bite kicking in again nesse harnesses are 8 to 10 feet long, tied from 6-poundaround dusk. At that time, shift your efforts shallower to test fluorocarbon line for near invisibility and stealth, usshoreline points, flats and rock reefs, and break out your ing small size #2 spinner blades for a hint of flash and crankbaits to focus on the most aggressive segment of the walleye population at that time of day. Walleyes living in these areas generally prefer to eat in shallow water during lowlight periods, when they have a feeding advantage 19828 US Hwy 10 • Verndale over minnows, perch and other forage species. 218-445-5430 Anglers tend to think that all of the walleyes in the lake do the same thing at the same time, and that there’s only one way to catch fish. Not true. There are usually shallow bites at dusk, dawn and at night; deep structure or basin bites during the brightest part of midday; and middepth bites during the “in between” hours, perhaps along the • New Outdoor Habitat Store Habitat Planning & Design outside edges of weedlines. If you focus on each type of • Rentals Available Food Plots Available For area during times of the day when peak walleye fishing ~Please Call To Inquire~ Waterfowl Pheasant and Whitetail is likely to occur there, you can contact relatively active • Compact Tractor Sales walleyes all day long. Which translates to, “The fish don’t www.aldrichtractor.com
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vibration without being too gaudy. Use a 1 ¾- to 2 ¼- ounce bell sinker on a three-way rig, constructed with an 18- to 30-inch dropper line, to troll your spinners slightly above bottom through the same areas you fished previously, at slightly swifter speeds of about 1 to 1 ½ mph. Magically, the same walleyes that no longer wanted to bite livebait rigs and leeches, now smack your spinner harnesses and crawlers with abandon! A few weeks later, like late July, walleyes in their infinite wisdom (more like ultimate fussiness!) inexplicably lose their fascination for nightcrawler harnesses. However, if you switch to a single-hook spinner harness, and rig it with a 3 ½-inch chub or dace minnow, the walleyes mysteriously begin biting again! Something about changing to a minnow amidst all those other folks trolling leeches or ‘crawlers at this time of year makes a huge difference in productivity. We can’t say exactly why this happens, although one might postulate that young-of-the-year minnows and perch have by now grown to edible size, and that walleyes might be switching exclusively to a minnow diet. But we do know that it happens every year-and that’s pretty hard to argue with. So, what happens in early to mid-August? Another switcheroo! Walleyes tend to move off the mud flats and roam the open basin of Mille Lacs, often in the “no man’s land” between the midlake mud flats, miles from any form of structure. At this time, troll deep-diving crankbaits like Rapala Trolls-To 30s, Tail Dancer Deep 30s, or Reef Runner Deep Divers at about 2 mph, on 150, 200, even 250 feet of skinny 10-pound-test superline like Sufix 832 or Berkley Fireline. This tactic takes these baits down to about the 30- to 34-foot levels, which is the maximum depth you’ll find in Mille Lacs. Troll back and forth across the open basin at about 2 to 2 ½ mph, focusing on areas where you see either baitfish or big fish near bottom on your electronics. Fine-tune your line length, letting out just enough line for the bait to tick bottom a little, and then reel up a few times to make your lure run barely a few inches above bottom. Nostretch superline is sensitive, so you’ll feel every wiggle and wobble of the crankbait, when the vibration is interrupted by the bait ticking bottom—or the lure is gobbled by a big walleye! Sounds weird, right? Not if it regularly produces 15 to 20 big walleyes every time you try it during mid- to late August! Astoundingly, at a time when livebait riggers circling the edges of the mud flats are singing the blues, the Dog Days of August are Hawg Days for open-water crankbait trollers! You gotta see it—and preferably try it--to believe it. In the end, the old adages hold true: First, “You gotta give ‘em what they want, where and when they want to eat it.” If you do, the walleye bite continues all summer--even if you don’t get up at 4 am to greet the sunrise on the water. Because, like Mister Walleye says, “They don’t bite until you get there.”Assuming you show them what they want to eat, that is!
D A V E C S A N D A is a veteran outdoor communicator/TV co-host who works at Lindner’s
Angling Edge Television in Baxter. He is also president of the Brainerd Lakes Area Chapter of Let’s Go Fishing (www.lgfwsbrainerdarea.com), a Minnesota-based non-profit volunteer organization that takes seniors, youths and veterans fishing for free.
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Photos courtesy of Lindner Imagery
Fun in the
the ceremonial flinging of the backpacks onto the floor of the entryway, the instantaneous gathering of the neighborhood kids in a pre-appointed yard and the replacement of grinding school bus breaks at 2:45 by children voices as they pedal by on their bicycles. Basketballs, baseballs and lawn game equipment will soon take over driveways and front yards. Let the good times begin. The squares on this year’s calendars might be looking a little empty with the price of gasoline taking a significant bite out of our summer budgets and when it’s time to cut back the vacations are also first on the list. Lucky for us, staying home definitely doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do. There is lots of fun to be had locally and most of it free
or close to it. The end of August may just find you sitting around the dinner table one night talking about what a great summer this one was. We are home to the most beautiful countryside in the state and some of the best parts are visible from your bicycle seat or on foot on the go-as-far-as-you’d-like bike trails and numerous nature treks. Pack up your bicycles, in-line skates, favorite tennis shoes, strollers, wagons and a cooler packed with a little refreshment and treat yourself to a relaxing, fun way to burn off some energy, get a little bit of a workout for everyone and still spend precious time together. Plan to go a mile or two if the kids are little and much, much farther if yours are older. If it’s something you’ve always talked about this might be the summer to actually do it. You may find yourself becoming a return visitor.
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Check out your local library to see what they offer in the way of a summer reading program. Most have interesting and entertaining themes that make reading seem more like fun than a chore or homework over vacation. Some also schedule guest speakers to complement their offering in the way of authors, illustrators or experts in a field that corresponds with the theme. Spend some time in a neighborhood park. Many area communities offer free entertainment at least one night or afternoon a week for visitors. A variety of music is featured and varied week to week with country, rock, bluegrass, gospel and salutes to various decades. Performances are by area talent. Bring a blanket or a chair. Make a field trip out of a dreaded chore. Grocery shopping? Not fun. An afternoon at a pick-your-own berry farm or local farmerâ€™s market â€” so much more so. Let
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your children chose a new vegetable to try. Visit with the vendor and learn how and where their purchases youâ€™re making were grown. Everyone might take a new interest in the dinner hour. Brainerd hosts a farmers market from 8 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Tuesdays in the parking lot of the Franklin Arts Center and 8 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Fridays in the parking lot of Gander Mountain in Baxter. Make this the summer you learn about birds as a family. Create a chart with those that are actually found in this area and print off their pictures. Mark them off as their spotted in the back yard. Improve your chances by putting out feeders. Make it to at least one Big Fun Tuesday in Crosslake this summer. Beginning June 28 through August 16 there are minnow races, kids games and storytelling the Crosslake Town Square Park. Let your kids compete. Racing various things is a defi-
nite local novelty and on Wednesdays Nisswa hosts the famous turtle races. Registration starts at 1 p.m. and turtles are provided. For more than 15 years duck races have been the featured event on Fridays in Pine River. Ducks (decoys) are raced the 100 yards to the finish line and the promotions say cheering and quacking are encouraged. To compete trained racing ducks can be purchased for $1 apiece. Registration starts at 1:45p.m. Fish the area piers. You don’t have to have a boat to catch the big one. Docks and piers with free access are at almost every waterway. You will need a fishing license, however. But for the cost of bait, or free worms from your own yard, it can be a great way to spend an afternoon with your kids. Have a weekend long lawn game tournament for the family. Incorporate all of the games gathering dust in the garage like lawn darts (the safe kind with non-pointed ends, of course), croquet, horseshoe, volleyball, bocce ball and badminton. It might be a great way to rediscover fun that you already own. A staycation can be as rewarding as a vacation. You don’t have to pack, you can sleep in the comfort of your own bed and it gives you a chance to explore some of the local offerings you might not otherwise have a chance to.With lawn work and weeding to be done in the summer there is so much work to do but when it’s time to have fun the options are endless.
S H E I L A H E L M B E R G E R has a journalism degree.
She is a mother of three, and contributes regularly to various local publications.
SUMMER FUN TRIVIA •
In one hour a little brown bat can catch about 1,200 mosquito-sized insects.
The first known summer camp was held in 1861.
The oil from poison ivy can remain on a piece of clothing for 1 to 5 years.
A mosquito can take in one and half times its weight in blood.
Yellowstone National Park opened in 1871.
A fan of the game, George Washington had a bocce court at his home in Mount Vernon.
Arizona has recorded the highest temperature in the United States. It logged 128 degrees in 1994.
Americans eat 14 billion burgers a year.
Croquet is French for “crooked stick.”
Badminton is an Olympic sport. A shuttlecock can be hit at speeds close to 200 mph.
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MEMORY LANE A Bad Day Fishing Is Better Than A Good Day At Work……… I love to fish and believe this to be true… most of the time. There can be a bad day fishing that is just that, a bad day. Living in the Brainerd Lakes area is an outdoorsmen’s dream and am glad that our family returned to this great state when I was a young boy. We had moved to the Twin Cities suburbs and my dad purchased a very large, brand new travel trailer and parked it on a lot on Lake Washburn in Cass County located in a resort he had vacationed at since he was a toddler. The owners are the sort of friends that are more like family than friends. We were part of the up North on Friday back to the Cities on Sunday population. The arrival of fall created the long list of housekeeping chores, not the least of which was to clear the water lines for the long winter of no running water at the Lake. One year as Dad was using an “experienced” (near ancient) air compressor too blast the remaining moisture from the system on Sunday afternoon, my sister and I were not being very helpful, in fact we were being pests – we wanted to go fishing and wanted Dad to take us. In a moment of weakness, in an effort to get us out of his way, he suggested we could go to a small lake and go fishing by ourselves. I was elated; I was going to be the Captain of my own craft. This is where the disaster began. Having just learned to bass fish, I was anxious to get out and have one last go at it before the inevitable chill of the fall air would take over and Mother Nature would turn the landscape from green to explosive red and orange then gradually to white. As we arrived at the landing where the boat was stored, my sister began to complain that her new shoes (white Keds® mind you) were going to get dirty if she walked too close to the water. I knew the princess would add a challenge to the adventure but was un-phased given my anticipation of reeling in that big bass. I got her into the boat and pushed us out from shore and we were off. Consistent complaining from my fishing buddy was beginning to get on my nerves, but I wasn’t going to let it ruin my last fishing day of the year. My third or fourth cast was a beauty. Working the edge of a group of lily pads that I knew had a sharp break beneath the water, I felt the gentle steady pull and saw the sideways line movement that can only be made by the hunger of a largemouth bass sucking down a plastic worm. I set the hook and it was on like Donkey Kong! At this point, even my sister (the princess) was
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beginning to get excited. In fact, she was so excited, when the fish dove under the boat and I was struggling to keep the rod tip up (I was only 9), she bumped the oar which hit the rod tip just perfect enough to snap the end of it. In addition to breaking the rod, the slack in the line caused by the break was just enough for my beautiful bass to shake free and swim back to the depths of Doughnut Lake.The princess laughed. While every fisherman indeed has a story or two like that, this nightmare was far from over. In the words of the great Paul Harvey: it’s time for the rest of the story. As I began to row us back to shore, the wind picked up and turned a nice calm fall afternoon into a rowing expedition that was comparable to some sort of 1800’s vessel with men tirelessly rowing for hours on end with little or no appreciation from the passengers on the ship. When we finally made it to shore, the princess jumped out and I moved the boat over to a section in the reeds so it would be hidden from view. As I jumped out of the boat, the force from my leap pushed the boat back out into the water. Jenny shot me a look that said “there isn’t a chance in H#ll I’m going to help you fetch that boat!” So, I begrudgingly trudged out into the water (this is a soft bottom lake so each step was into about eight inches of muck) and retrieved the wayward vessel. At this point, my sister is laughing hysterically which sent me into an even bigger frenzy. I was rewarded for my heroic, boat-saving efforts with a mile walk back to our place in mud-filled shoes and wet jeans. It was probably the only time in my life that I was happy to put the fishing rods away for the season. As I sit here at my office staring out the window into the heart of Downtown Minneapolis, it’s hard to believe that was over 20 years ago, yet as memorable as something that happened last weekend. Over the next several years as my family made their way back up to Deerwood (otherwise known as Heaven on Earth), my sister and I enjoyed many other fishing adventures as memorable as that day on Doughnut Lake. Maybe another time I will share the story of The Hamlet Lake Dogfish that my sister did battle with. S T E V E M I L L E R spent most of his childhood in Deerwood, Minnesota. He is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys fishing, hunting, golf. He currently lives in the Twin Cities but tries to get “Up North” as often as he can.
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today in th JUNE 1
Elk Hunt Lottery Deadline
Take-a-Kid Fishing Weekend
Mountain Bike Trail Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Take-a-Kid Fishing Weekend
Fourth of July
Take-a-Kid Fishing Weekend
Crow Hunting (2nd Season)
Fall Turkey Hunt Lottery Deadline
For more information or more events, log on to: www.dnr.state.mn.us/events/index.html OR www.brainerdlakesbound.com Se r v i c e
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Cindy Spilman, Pillager, MN
A beautiful day in Northern Minnesota. We enjoy all that Minnesota has to offer.
SSend d a slide lid or print i t tto “ “Your Bestt Sh Shot” t” Brainerd i d Dispatch, i t h P.O. O Box 574, 4 Brainerd, MN 56401. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope if you want your materials returned. Do you enjoy taking photos? Do you have a favorite image of an eagle, flower, sunset, or how about your favorite hunting partner? Here’s your chance to share it with readers of “OUTDOOR Traditions.” Send it along with a two-sentence explanation as to where, why, and how it was shot. Both could be published online and in the 50,000 copies of our new quarterly magazine, “OUTDOORS Traditions.” Each issue will have an “editor’s pick” contributed photo, including a credit line of the photographer’s name and portrait if available. Deadline for the fall edition is August 22, 2011. The Dispatch will collect images quarterly (spring, summer, fall, winter). After each issue of “OUTDOOR Traditions” publishes, we will then place the images on our website.
Upload your favorite outdoors photos at http://spotted.brainerddispatch.com/ 26 Y o u r
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5/18/11 6:56 PM