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Issue 1 • Edition 4

Featured in this issue

READY OR NOT, OPEN WATER’S COMING! BY: JIM KALKOFEN

• Pedaling The Goods By: Brian S. Peterson • Jumpstart Your Season with Early Walleyes By: Dave Csanda • Libby Dam By: Jake Kulju • Jigging Rivers In Spring by: Ted Takasaki • Spring Turkey Hunt By: Bill Marchel • Birds Nests By: Andrea Lee Lambrecht PLUS MORE! Read Online: www.brainerddispatch.com

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2/19/09 2:18 PM


Welcome

by Tim Bogenschutz

A century ago anyone wanting to know and start enjoying what lives in them. The something about the Brainerd lakes went to online magazine format will be animated and the library to research newspaper stories. you will turn each page just like a magazine, They may have received a only there will be motion and letter or a telegraph message sound. from someone who lived here. The cost of reading Outdoor Taking a train, a horse or the Traditions will be free. If you new-fangled way to travel in have a favorite story or one that an automobile, these were you may have written, you can the ways to get to there if you share it with your friends by didn’t want to walk. For most e-mailing a link. This reminds everyone, the trusted source Featured in this issue me to ask you to do one thing of information for the last READY OR NOT, for us: Please take the time 150 years was the newspaper. OPEN WATER’S to go brainerddispatch.com COMING! That is all changing! Though BY: JIM KALKOFEN and click on the registration the newspaper is still the most form and fill in your e-mail • Pedaling The Goods • Jumpstart Your Season with Early Walleyes trusted source of information, address. If you do that you will • Libby Dam • Jigging Rivers In Spring the form of delivery has changed automatically be sent each • Spring Turkey Hunt • Birds Nests dramatically. The difference new Outdoors Tradition. All PLUS MORE! is like comparing a horse to a four times it publishes you will plane or a walker to a fast car. receive it via an e-mail link. We are about to change the way we deliver Finally for signing up to be an e-mail subscriber, our Outdoor Traditions from a printed product your name will be entered in a drawing and you and make it our first “Internet only” publication. will also eligible to win one of our -“Outdoor We think we can deliver more information Traditions”- prizes worth thousands of dollars. for less costs. We know the advertisers can Our new online Outdoor Traditions is reach more homes and readers for less cost. coming! It will be as fast, as fresh and definitely All of the outdoor stories you have grown to a lot greener. expect and enjoy will still be there, plus there will be added features. There will be more product information, plus links to sites where you can find more in-depth information or demos on the products. We plan to have video capabilities to add to some of the feature stories. You may have just read a story that Dave Csanda wrote, now click on the video to hear and see him put the final touches on the story. The difference is that instead of having a hard copy delivered to your house, you will be able to go to brainerddispatch.com and click on Outdoor Traditions to read the newest issue or past issues. We are going to quit cutting down trees B a u t h o r ? Issue 1 • Edition 4

By: Brian S. Peterson By: Dave Csanda

By: Jake Kulju

by: Ted Takasaki

By: Bill Marchel

By: Andrea Lee Lambrecht

Read Online: www.brainerddispatch.com

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Log JIGGING RIVERS IN SPRING

Welcome ...................................... 3 Libby Dam .................................... 5 Bow Hunt for a Tom Turkey ......... 6 Recipes ......................................... 9 Ready or Not! ............................ 10 Jigging Rivers in Spring ............. 12 Bird Nests .................................... 14 Jump Start Your Season ............ 16 MN Fishing Challenge ............... 19

Page 12 Page 24

Happy Campers ........................ 20 Pedaling The Goods ................. 22 Northland Arboretum ............... 23 Golf: Getting Ready for Spring 24 Service Directory ....................... 25 Calendar of Events ................... 26 Best Shot ..................................... 27

GOLF PUBLISHED BY:

506 James Street • P.O. Box 974 Brainerd, MN 56401 (218) 829-4705 www.brainerddispatch.com 4

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STAFF: Publisher .................................. Terry McCollough Advertising Director ................... Tim Bogenschutz Copy Editor ............................................Roy Miller Special Projects Coordinator ..............Beth Lehner Maketing Coordinator...................Monica Nieman Magazine Layout ................................ Tyler Nelson Ad Design .......................................... Jeff Dummer, Andy Goble, Nikki Kronbeck, and Tyler Nelson Sales........................... Roger Barnard, Linda Hurst, Kristine Roberts, Glen Santi, Carla Staffon, Jill Wasson and Dave Wentzel 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. ®2006 Cover photo provided by Tim Bogenschutz


Libby Dam

Sandy Lake Recreational Area Has it All THE

U.S.

ARMY

CORPS

OF

ENGINEERS

PROVIDES

MANY VALUABLE SERVICES TO THE BRAINERD LAKES

PREMIER PONTOONS

ARE GREAT FOR CRUISING, FISHING & WATER SKIING.

A R E A . One of my favorites is the area known as Libby Dam at the Sandy Lake Recreational Area north of McGregor. The pristine waters of Big Sandy Lake are regionally famous, and this gathering point offers a plethora of public services. Situated at the outlet of Big Sandy Lake, the park is the last link of the old canoe route that connected Lake Superior to the Mississippi River. The dam was built in 1895, originally built with a lock that allowed boat traffic through to the river. At the time it was the farthest north a lock had been built on the headwaters. RECREATION

The area is a clean, well-maintained space that offers boating, fishing, camping, swimming, picnicking, interpretive programs and playground areas. Visitors can camp with their RVs or pitch tents in the several riverside camp sites. About half of the sites are nestled near the shore of Big Sandy Lake and the Sandy River. The beach is lined with trees, covered in sand and provides access to the cool waters of Big Sandy during the summer heat. The dam itself is an impressive stone structure. When the water is let out of the chutes, large cascades of white water fly through the air. Large carp or buffalo fish can be seen lolling in the quieter gates. Downstream from the dam is a popular fishing area that boats do not have access to, providing a quiet, safe fishing area. From the parking lot, crossing the dam leads to a playground, volleyball area and picnic sites along the water. A trail also leads through the campsite and into the woods through the thick hardwood forest that characterizes the lake and river area. During the spring the freshly melted snow gives life to the river and water gushes through the dam’s spillways. The budding trees, spring ephemeral flowers on the forest floor and the warmer days bring people to the area from all around the county looking to get a breath of fresh air. The area is primarily used for recreation now, but there are plenty of ways to see how the land was used in the past. The old lock house has been converted to a museum, renovated to display interpretive exhibits and artifacts, and information about the surrounding area.

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HISTORY

By 1904, the original timber dam was deteriorating and was in need of repair. Steamboats and horse wagons carried concrete from the Pine River Dam to make the repairs. The lock was converted to a spillway in 1957, no longer allowing boat traffic through. The significance of the area reaches back to the 1700s when explorers and fur traders portaged the area, which connected Sandy Lake and the Upper Mississippi River with the St. Louis River and Lake Superior. Just south of the dam, the Northwest Company established a fur trading post in 1794. Several old graves line a small hill near the dam tender’s house that are also of interest. This is one of the best family hiking and picnicking destinations in Aitkin County. If you have a boat, there are three boat landings and plenty of parking, as well. Don’t forget to take your fishing rod. Big Sandy has delicious walleye.

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J A C O B K U L J U is a Minnesota-based freelance writer who also writes regularly for the Voyageur Press of McGregor. Contact him at jmkulju@gmail.com.

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BOW HUNT FOR A TOM TURKEY. Against a backdrop of young jack pine, Bill Marchel carried his bow-killed tom turkey. The bird weighed 19.5 lbs. and sported a 9.5 inch-long beard. Fort Ripley, Minn. - Wednesday, April 16, 2008, 4:15 a.m. I awoke suddenly to the sound of a turkey gobble. Only a turkey hunter would own an alarm clock that provokes him from bed with the gobbling of an amorous tom turkey. And only a turkey hunter would think that was kind of neat. 4:20 a.m. Coffee is brewing. I glance at the outdoor thermometer – it’s 46 degrees. When I walk the dog, I note the sky is mostly cloudy, and a stiff breeze is blowing. That’s not good for hearing turkey gobbles. Snow still remains in the shaded areas, remnants of a storm five days prior. 4:30 a.m. I had arisen plenty early. Legal shooting time is 6:00 a.m., give or take a minute or so. I had packed my gear the night before, and since it’s a short drive to my hunting location, I have time to leisurely consume a bowl of cereal and sip coffee. I also took time to surf the various weather sites on the Web looking for the day’s forecast. No problems, other than the wind. 5:25 a.m. I arrive at my hunting spot. As I step from my truck, I pause to listen, even though I know it’s too early for turkeys to be gobbling. Before I leave, I double-check my gear. Bow and arrows, release, rangefinder, turkey calls, got’em.

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5:30 a.m. It’s about a 1/3-mile walk in to where I’ll hunt. That’s perfect. Long enough of a walk to get the blood moving, short enough that I don’t work up a sweat. In the oak woods, the snow is about four inches deep – wet, slushy and quiet. I follow a faint set of footprints, mine from two days earlier when I had placed my blind. I had also carried in a folding chair and three turkey decoys. Then, the snow was more than a foot deep. As I near my blind, I break out of the oak forest into a meadow surrounded by jack pines. Many of those pines were snapped off due to the recent heavy snow. Even in the open meadow, patches of the white stuff remain, and much to my delight, in the gray light of pre-dawn, I note turkey tracks here and there. 5:45 a.m. I arrive at my blind, and find it crumpled at the base of a jack pine. Yesterday, the wind had gusted to 40 mile per hour. One of my decoys was missing, too. Ten yards downwind I found the decoy. It only took a minute to reset my blind. I paused and listened. Nothing. I was concerned because I figured it was gobbling time. I placed one hen turkey decoy about 10 yards in front of my blind and settled in. 5:50 a.m. A tom just gobbled. Last spring, I had spent several days photographing turkeys at this location. I knew where the birds liked to roost – a stand

T u r k e y

Photos provided by Bill Marchel


of towering red pines about 300 yards behind me - and the gobbled had emanated from that location. Other animals were also awakening. Nearby, a ruffed grouse drummed. Sandhill cranes, Canada geese, wood ducks, mallards, all were announcing the coming day. Occasionally, a turkey gobble or two followed those announcements. 6:00 a.m. It’s it now legal shooting time, and time to rehearse. I nock an arrow and clip my release to the bowstring. I kneel on the damp earth, draw my bow and aim through a port in my blind. To my surprise, standing just beyond my turkey decoy and aligned perfectly with my bow sight is a whitetail doe, a mere silhouette in the gray light. If I accidentally touched the trigger on my release, well, I might have some explaining to do. The turkeys are still gobbling. I guess there are at least two or three, maybe more. The doe wanders off. 6:10 a.m. Now the gobbling sounds muffled. The birds have flown down from the roost. I “yelp� using a diaphragm turkey call. Nothing. Oh no! The jack pines are swaying in the wind. Whispering pines? I wish they would whisper more quietly. I call again. This time the toms answer.

From the same blind in which he arrowed a gobbler, Marchel called and photographed these two strutting toms the next day. A hen turkey decoy is visible in the left foreground. 6:30 a.m. I haven’t heard a gobble for 15 minutes. I call only sparingly but get no response. I know the routine. It is early in the turkey “rut� and the toms are with hens. It’s easy to visualize the gobblers, big black balls topped with heads of red, white and blue, following every move of the unimpressed hens as they march about beneath the dark pines.

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6:55 a.m. I hear a hen yelp from behind my blind. I yelp back. She answers. We dual for a few minutes. She is calling loudly, that’s good. But then she goes quiet. 7:00 a.m. I spot a lone hen. She walks past my blind, then past my decoy. She ignores my decoy, but she also ignores my blind. She continues on, pecking at unseen goodies. I call occasionally, now throwing in a

yelp. All three toms gobble in unison. I shifted position a bit, and focused on the shooting port ahead of approaching toms. Now the strutting gobblers can see the decoy and they hotfooted forward. I slowly drew my bow, but two of toms spotted the movement. Immediately they deflated and ran. The third tom hesitated momentarily. The bird was quartering away, so I aligned my sight on its upper thigh, and touch the trigger. The arrow struck with a loud “whop.” Immediately the tom took flight. I watched as it flew across a meadow and into the pines where it eventually disappeared about 70 yards away. I burst from the blind and sprinted with bow in hand across the meadow, parting hen turkeys as I went. Some of the hens flew, others ran, most were emitting anxious putts as they left. When I entered the pines I immediately spotted the orange fletching of my arrow protruding from an already dead tom turkey. 7:30 a.m. I carried the tom back to my blind. For a long time I sat and admired the bird. A hazy sun illuminated its iridescent feathers – gold, green, bronze, blue, copper. Those who think wild turkeys are ugly have never closely examined their feathers, nor have they seen a strutting tom lit by early light. What’s in the bag…

In addition to his calling, Marchel used a lone hen turkey decoy, as seen in this view from his turkey hunting blind, to lure a gobbler to within bow range. More than a foot of snow had fallen just five days prior to his hunt, and remnant patches still existed. few “cuts” with my yelps. 7:10 a.m. Did I just hear a tom spit and drum? I haven’t heard a gobble for nearly and hour, nor a hen yelp for 10 minutes. I listen intently, and again curse the “whispering” pines. There, I heard it again, this time for sure, the deep “varooom” of a drumming tom. The bird is behind me and to my left. I ease from my chair to a kneeling position, and reach for my bow. When I dare glace out the window, I can’t believe what I see. There, only 30 yards away are three strutting toms and about 10 hens, all walking in my direction. 7:11 a.m. Are those glowing blue heads and bright red wattles of the toms for real? At this point, the turkeys could not see my decoy, so I cut loose with a hen

8

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My wild turkey gobbler weighed 19.5 lbs., had a 9.5 inch-long beard, and sported spurs just shy of one inch. I bagged the bird using a Mathews Ovation bow with the draw weight set at 64 lbs. My arrows are Easton Axis carbon arrows tipped with the American Broadhead Company’s new Turkey Tearor broadheads. An autopsy of my turkey showed my arrow entered the bird’s thigh, angled forward and ended up striking the heart. The notched-bladed Turkey Tearor broadhead did just what it was designed to do – it penetrated deep enough to kill the bird, but did not pass completely through. I called the tom using a Two Timer diaphragm call made by Hunter Specialties. The blind I employ is a model T5 built by Double Bull. For decoys, I like the inflatable photo-real style produced by Cherokee Sports. The decoys feature a lifelike molded head, but still deflate into a small, easy-to-transport package. I have the entire flock - an adult tom, a jake, and two hens - but I often use just a single hen decoy.

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 bill@billmarchel.com

T u r k e y

Photo provided by Bill Marchel


Nature’s FOOD

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READY OR NOT OPEN WATER’S COMING!

vulnerable. We know it’ll arrive. Crappies To keep people on the water, he equips every new first, then finally the walleye season opener. When it boat (and those in for repairs) with a water separating warms, everything bites. That is, if we can get to the fuel filer. The fuel filter is mounted between the fuel ramp and fire up the outboard. tank and the outboard. At less than $75, it’s insurance Many have experienced it; most have observed it. Boat worth every penny. “You’d never want a big slug of waproblems do occur; most are self-inflicted. The cause ter and alcohol to make it to your cylinders, or poof!” for these breakdowns (or not starting or not running Johnston said. smoothly) took this reporter to experts. One of those, Other preparations for the season include buying only Pete Johnston, service manager at Bay Lake Marine said, oil with the same label as your outboard. Outboards op“At least 90 percent of the problems are caused by fuel erate at 5,000 to 6,000 RPMs when running down the — and not treating it as the life-blood of any outboard.” lake. A Suburban runs about 2,000 RPMs. The right luGeorge Cooper Jr., a long-time Brainerd-area guide brication will keep an engine running longer. For those (now retired) and still on the water most days, maintains mixing gas and oil, he said follow instructions, never his 26-year old Ranger boat and 15-year-old outboard in adding more than called for. mint condition. His getting-ready-for-the-season” tips Easy to check are gaskets, trailer lights, the gas line are from the vantage point of an experienced mechanic, and prop shafts. Both Mercury and Yamaha tell customsuccessful guide and fisherman who has run the same ers to change their fuel lines every three years. Systems boat year after year. Jim Wentworth, electronics and with oil filters between the oil reservoir and the outrigging expert, also offers his advice. board should be changed every year. The water pump The title of Johnston’s boating advice might be, “Don’t impeller should be changed every three years. To check be Fuelish.” He recently returned from the Mercury the water pump, back the boat into the water, start it Marine technical school, where instructors told the me- (still on the trailer), and watch to see if it pumps at idle. chanics that gasoline is good for two weeks. He smiled Parts and labor are about $100, but without water flowwhen sharing this information, and said, “Storing a ing up and around the engine, the cost is replacement boat over-winter is more than two of the entire powerhead or a new weeks.” outboard. Fresh gas is mandatory. “If folAnother telltale sign of a worn lowed, this alone would prevent water pump impeller is when the most carburetor problems,” he overheat warning horn goes off said. It keeps carbon build-up when idling. If it goes off when to a minimum. With every tank revving the outboard, and sounds of gas, Johnston said, “add fuelagain after slowing down, make system cleaner and stabilizer to an appointment with your dealer. two-stroke and four-stroke motors, On the Merc OptiMax outnew or old.” His advice to those boards, he said the air compreswho don’t fish or boat often, “Buy sor/alternator belt should be only what you need; burn it up; changed every three years. New add fresh next time out.” George Cooper fishes often, and shares his plugs are always a good idea. It’s Johnston said gas has 10 percent technical know-how about getting boats the first thing Johnston checks alcohol. Outboards have vented ready for the season. He wants his boat when someone brings in a roughgas tanks, unlike cars which are to take him to the best spots so he can running outboard. continue catching pike like the one he's sealed systems. The fuel system holding The lower unit grease is another draws in outside air and moisspring checklist item. If cloudy ture. Water and alcohol bond and sink to the bottom of or milky, have the dealer drain, check which seal is the tank. With most alcohol out of the fuel, octane is leaking, replace the seal, re-fill the lower unit and go lowered making high-performance outboards especially fishing. He suggests that anglers pull their props every FISHING DREAMS ARE SLOWLY TURNING TO-

WARD OPEN WATER.

10 R e a d y

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month, check the shaft for fishing line, remove the line, and replace the prop. Line can cut through the prop shaft seal. He offered one more in-season tip, “Always trailer with outboards in as vertical a position as pos-

George “Coop” Cooper worked on outboards for many years, and wrenched on every motor imaginable from train engines to cars to lawnmowers. Before fishing this spring, Coop’s list of must-do items is impressive. It could save some embarrassment in a couple months. 1.

Check all boat and trailer electrical connections and lights.

2.

Clean terminals and fuse connectors with baking soda and water.

3.

Clean the battery case (top and sides), also.

4.

After dry, spray all electrical fittings with corrosion preventative.

5.

Make sure battery terminals are clean and coated.

6.

Check and clean all fuses, trailer light bulbs, receptacles and lights.

7.

Check tire air pressure and check spare tire.

8.

Inspect wheel bearings; grease as necessary.

9.

Check lower unit lubrication.

10.

Clean boat and polish hull.

11.

Grease any outboard fittings.

12.

Tighten bolts, screws, lug nuts, trailer winch stand bolts.

13.

Lube any linkage (if accessible).

14.

Check manual and grease/lube starter shaft - if accessible.

15.

Check winch strap.

16.

Start, run, and then replace plugs.

17.

Check fire extinguisher.

18.

Check fuel lines and fuel primer bulb.

19.

Check PFDs (life jackets) and throw cushion.

20.

Add boat safety and fishing equipment.

21.

Check first aid kit and update.

22.

Check tie lines, bow line, anchor line.

23.

Add a couple extra boat plugs this year.

24.

Inspect prop shaft for fishing line; grease if necessary.

25.

Add some extra fuses.

26.

Replace fuel.

27.

Make sure your boat and trailer meets state licensing requirements

Photo provided by Jim Kalkofen

sible. It’s much easier on everything.” Johnston can be reached at Bay Lake Marine: 218678-2096. Now in his 40th year as a boat-rigger, and one of the most respected electronics experts in the industry, Jim Wentworth, said, “At least 50 percent of electronics and electric trolling motor problems are due to batteries.” At his shop north of Nisswa on Hwy 371, Wentworth said he’s seen it all, and batteries are the highest priority item in the boat. He said, “Check the terminals and circuit breakers. Clean them. Tighten the battery cables. If anything is corroded, replace it immediately.” He also said a glance of the transducer would show if it needs to be tightened or re-aligned. On electronics units, he said, if they turn on, great. But, he said GPS and Global Mapping manufacturers offer many upgrades on line and should be done prior to season. Clean electronics screens with regular eye-glass cleaners and lens tissues. His shop is Fish Electronics, 218-963-4375. Have a great fishing and boating season!! 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.

Jim

K a l k o f e n 11


JIGGING RIVERS IN SPRING by Ted Takasaki & Scott Richardson

H I G H W A T E R I N R I V E R S I N T H E M I D W E S T last fall may be a good sign of things to come for walleye and sauger fishermen this coming spring. Experience has taught us that faster-than-usual current in autumn often triggers huge numbers of the fish to swim upriver in preparation to spawn. Larger than normal schools may be in place on or near traditional spawning sites by the time winter leaves and water temperatures rise to the 40’s. That doesn’t mean swift water in fall means spring fishing will be like shooting fish in a barrel. No two days on rivers are alike. Slight changes in water depth and current speed cause fish to move to new locations. Here today, gone tomorrow can be frustrating. Cold fronts arrive routinely and even if you’re on fish, the weather can turn walleyes and sauger off in a heartbeat. Water clarity can go downhill fast in an earlyspring rainstorm. Still, rivers can and must be mastered. The

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Mississippi River, the Missouri River system, the Illinois River and others play host to both species, which thrive in moving water. Some spend their entire lives in rivers. Others that inhabit natural lakes and reservoirs play out important parts of their life cycles in rivers and streams. Tactics used to attack rivers have evolved over time. When fish are actively pursuing forage, trolling with leadcore or three-way rigs can put lots of walleyes and sauger in the net. But, jigs are still the tried and true method when fish are neutral or negative, perhaps due to those cold fronts mentioned earlier. Jigs are also the technique of choice when they’re crowded together on smaller structural elements. Jigs are also the go-to choice when debris, like leaves that foul hooks, make trolling implausible. A jig’s adaptability explains why most anglers answer what is the one thing in their tackle box they can’t do without. It’s usually not a $5 lure. Even a guy like Al Lindner, who he helped his brother, Ron, develop the Lindy rig, doesn’t mention that particular fishing mainstay. Lindner gave the answer that most fishermen give; “A jig.” Though basically the same, jigs have evolved since anglers made the first one by crimping split shot on a hook. Early breakthroughs involved adding color, sound and hair like the popular Fuzz-E-Grub. Lindy Fishing Tackle recently introduced what could be the biggest breakthrough in jigs ever made. The company has applied its innovative X-Change approach to jigs and made them easier to change up to adjust critical factors like their weight and color. Just snap one jig head off and another one on without retying the hook. Weight is the key element to fishing jigs in moving water. You must have the right weight to meet conditions of current and wind to stay on the bottom below the boat. Smaller is better in some places. A Professional Walleye Trail tournament was won by fishing in 4-feet of water on the Mississippi River at Red Wing. Water was dingy and walleyes were crowded on a rocky and sandy inside turn in this shallow water. Small jigs, usually one-eighth of an ounce, were used to jig below the boat without spooking the fish. On the Detroit River, one ounce is sometimes not enough to stay on the bottom where the fish live. Ted used something as simple as a 3/8th ounce Fuzz-E-Grub jig to win the 1998 PWT

S p r i n g

Photo provided by Ted Takasaki


Championship on the Missouri River. Getting the weight right is a snap with the X-Change Jigheads, which come in four sizes from 1/16th to 3/8th . Essentially, anglers tie a 2/0 Max Gap hook on their line, choose the jighead they need to match the situation and snap it on. If they move to shallower or deeper water or the wind picks up or lays down, you can easily switch the weight without having to retie with cold wet hands. Locations are easy enough to figure out even on unfamiliar rivers. Current concentrates walleyes and sauger in places where water slows. Get a river map and eliminate long straight stretches – fish will move through those areas quickly. But, focus on the first bend after those long stretches – fish will hold there to rest. If the bottom is made of sand, gravel, clay or other hard surfaces like clam shells, they may even lay their eggs there. Inside turns, where water slows most, are better than outside bends during the spring. Fish also will locate themselves in holes in the bottom. In addition to natural holes, look for holes at river bends barges cut as they turn. Slack-water areas known as eddies also form on the upstream and downstream sides of islands, on either side of dams, in front and behind wing dams. The best wing dams are on river bends. Fish might also hold in the limbs of fallen trees or flooded tree roots way back in feeder creeks flowing into the main river. (In fact, that’s where Ted found the winning fish back in 1998.) Spots where these tributaries join with the main river also slow current. Walleyes tend to be shallower than sauger on average. When water rises, both species move to shallower breaklines closer to shore. They also move toward the bank on the face of wingdams or migrate into backwaters and inside marinas to escape strong current. The first current breaks near dams are often good bets with water is high. One of the most potent jig presentations is slip jigging, or line chasing as it’s sometimes called. Thinner braided high-viz line, like Power Pro, in the 8/1 or 10/2 sizes is a plus. It’s thin enough to cut water resistance and its no-stretch quality allows anglers to sense bites quicker and set the hook faster than with monofila-

ment. The braided line also lets you feel the presence of gravel, sand or mud and locate places where the bottom content changes from one to the other. Fish love those transitions. Use longer rods with enough backbone like 6’ 8” St. Croix Legend Elite LES68MXF to feel the strikes and drive the hook home. Pick a jig – or, in the case of the X-Change Jig, a jig head - heavy enough to keep the bait directly below the boat. Some pros think the lightest jig they can use and still reach the bottom is best because walleyes and sauger can inhale them better. Others really like to pound the bottom with big jigs to raise a commotion and attract fish. We say try either way and let the fish tell you want they want. Experiment with colors, too. Natural colors are often best in clearer water while contrasting bright colors are often good in dirty or dingy water. If action stops on one color, try other colors before leaving a spot. Add a fathead minnow or a try a Munchies Thumpin’ Ringworm or both. Sometimes fish want bigger profiled baits. Boat control in current takes time to learn. Turn the boat into the current or the wind, which ever is stronger, and use short bursts from the electric trolling motor to chase your line as you keep the jig just off the bottom. The goal is to keep the line straight below the boat. Otherwise, you won’t feel a strike. Slip the structure to the end, then run up stream and try another pass at a different depth until fish are found. We’ve seen times when several boats are slipping the same structure but only one or two boats are catching fish. Their “secret” was having a sonar unit, like a Humminbird with side-imaging sonar, that revealed a feature like a hump or depression or transition from soft to hard bottom that held fish. If trolling methods aren’t working on rivers in spring, exchange them for a jig. T E D T A K A S A K I is one of the country’s top pro walleye fisherman and a former PWT champion. Not only has Ted won many fishing tournaments, he is the CEO of Lindy Little Joe, Inc. maker of fine fishing products.

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13


BIRD NESTS THERE IS A FLURRY OF AMBITIOUS ARCHITEC-

as birds scurry to meet construction deadlines. Like their human counterparts, spring is the season when the bustle is at its height. However, the commencement of construction seldom begins when the calendar indicates it is spring. Rather, it varies with environmental factors such as rainfall, temperature, water levels and amount of snowfall, as well as elevation from sea level to mountaintop and from north to south. Nesting activity may even differ within the same species in the same geographic location. Birds use nests to protect themselves and their unborn and developing young from danger and inclement weather. To guard against predators, tors, birds are ingenious and inventive in building inaccessible, armored, camouflaged or colonial nests, which provide safety in numbers. The majority of birds return to the same nest-ing area. With the excepption of some of the larger er birds of prey, most species es build a new home each ach year. Several avians, such uch as the red-winged blackbird, ird, fashion a fresh bassinet for each brood as well. f d Nesting sites and feeding places usually coincide. For example, many warblers incubate eggs and forage within the upper branches of tall trees. Kingfishers, who frequent streams, ponds and shorelines, tunnel into soft banks TURAL ACTIVITY IN THE AIR

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creating a dwelling close to the minnows and crayfish they devour. Ground-feeding sparrows nest on or near the ground in immediate proximity to the insects and seeds they consume. Woodpeckers chisel out homes in trees and grab grubs and bugs from them as well. Since building a nest requires tremendous time and energy, birds maximize the use of locally-available materials. Sticks and stones, mud and moss, leaves and lichens, webs and weeds are among the choices of construction materials in the bird world. Nests in open habitats are made of grass; in marshlands of reeds; and in shrubs and trees, of twigs and branches. To furt h e r decrease visibility, some species camou camouflage the outside of their nests by adding lichens as in c the case of hummingbirds and moss in the case of kinglets. mosses As a result, these master builders and architects produce an eco ecologist’s dream of blending, nat natural abodes. R Roughly 78 North America birds rely either partially can o wholly on tree cavities for or n nesting sites. A myth exists a about woodpeckers killing trees by their drilling or chipping, but these trees even though they may no look so, are in a state of not alread dead (commonly called decline or already ) Chickadees, Chi k d h snags). nuthatches and woodpeckers excavate their own holes, but most other cavity-nester songbirds choose sites chiseled by previous tenants or pick natural cavities. Bluebirds, wrens, chickadees and tree swallows are a Photos provided by Andrea Lee Lambrecht


few of the avians that build cupped nests inside a cavity. Wood ducks, mergansers, buffleheads, goldeneyes and whistling-ducks add feathers. Other species, such as kestrels, woodpeckers and some owls also use nesting cavities, but tend not to add material. Skill among couples runs the gamut. The mud container of the barn swallow, plastered to the side of a cliff or building, is a potter’s wonder. A hammock-lover’s dream, the oriole intricately weaves a suspended pouch of plant fibers, hair, yarn, string and vine, from the tip of a swaying branch. Among the sturdiest nests is that of the female robin who starts with a base layer of anchoring mud, then adds grass and weed fibers and more mud to serve as mortar. Conscientiously she frequently checks the dimensions by sitting in the growing cup and fashioning it to fit her body. What a gal! With a bit less flair, cardinals assemble just enough twigs to form a loose platform for their eggs. The house sparrow is so lax the eggs, and even the young, sometimes tumble out of the large untidy mound of grass and weeds it carelessly assembles. Nighthawks and killdeer deposit their eggs among pebbles, unfortunately unable to differentiate between gravel pits and parking lots. Although quite safe due to secluded habitat, a woodcock’s nest consists of nothing more than a pile of leaves on the ground. Ah but.... there’s no place like home! Cowbirds are another story. They not only do not create a nest, they are nest parasites. When the female is in egg-laying mode, she seeks out a nest of another bird and makes a deposit. At times she will eject some or all of the owner’s eggs prior to laying.

Many species line their nests with rootlets, feathers, fine grasses, plant down, spider webbing and items such as string, yarn and small pieces of felt and fabric. The female goldeneye and wood duck will pluck down feathers from her breast to add to her nest. Nest size varies from the smallest cup of the hummingbird, which has an outside diameter of an inch to an inch and three-quarters, to that of the bald eagle, whose fresh new nest starts out at about five feet across. Eagle nests are used year after year with material added each season. In time, a nest may weigh well over a thousand pounds and topple p due d to sheer weight. When natural sites are not avails able, birds turn to a manmade strucm tures. Nest boxes tu have even turned h the th population recovery tide for such c species as the wood s duck, bluebird and d peregrine falcon. p Osprey platforms O have assisted in reh locating birds away lo from power line perf ils. Sometimes, in il search of the lofty s locations they relo quire, bald eagle, osprey and other large raptors select tall buildings, power poles, bridges and communication towers. Studying nests and nest building is as fascinating as studying the birds themselves. But, when so doing, please view the construction zones from a distance and under no circumstances intrude upon the housing projects that harbor the families of our feather friends.

A N D R E A L E E L A M B R E C H T has

been a naturalist and outdoors photographer for over 2 decades. Her articles and images have been featured in many publications including the Brainerd Dispatch. We are proud to display her work once again.

FOR YOUR HEALTH

Fact:

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GO BY BIKE


JUMPSTART YOUR SEASON WITH EARLY WALLEYES WITH

ALL

THE

SNOW

AND

COLD

WEATHER

it seems the upcoming spring walleye opener in May is taking its sweet time getting here. That’s the bad news. The good news is, you can legally catch walleyes before the Minnesota statewide season opens by taking advantage of the excellent fishing opportunities on border waters shared with surrounding states and Ontario. And in some cases, you can do it without purchasing an additional fishing license. Read your state fishing regulations: On select waters, the walleye season remains open longer in winter, opens earlier in spring or just plain never closes. Thus, weather and ice conditions permitting, you can legally fish for early-bird walleyes within relatively short driving distance of Brainerd, just about all year long. It’s a good opportunity to take the edge off your cabin fever, while finely honing your walleye skills before our local season opens in May. WE’VE HAD THIS WINTER,

Mississippi River below Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota-Wisconsin The Mississippi River, from the Twin Cities south along the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, offers some of the finest walleye fishing anywhere. And, perhaps best of all, there’s no closed fishing season. Ice conditions permitting, you can fish whenever you want. Most walleye anglers are aware that winter walleye fishing takes place below dams from Red Wing on down, yet there are additional opportunities as well. Pool 2, right in the heart of the Twin Cities, offers an excellent mixed fishery for walleyes and sauger, with large fish of both species available between the Hastings and Ford dams. This is strictly a catch-and-release section, however. If you want to keep a few fish to eat, you’ll have to head downriver, below the Hastings dam. The dam at Red Wing collects a huge number of prespawn fish from Lake Pepin, making it a major staging area in February and March. Weather and ice permitting, you can usually launch your boat sometime in February, and fish current breaks that concentrate fish. Eddies, wingdams, points of islands, bridge pilings, riprap-anything that breaks the force of the current-may collect and hold fish within a few miles below the dam. The easiest way to catch them is to drift downstream, tapping a jig & minnow combo on and off bottom. In some cases, you may wish to anchor on a concentration of fish and cast to them instead. Most of the fish are caught somewhere between 6 and 20 feet deep, with the shallow bite best during lowlight conditions.

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Late winter is generally a time of low flow and gentle current, and the fishing is usually simple and straightforward-jigs and more jigs. Some fishermen prefer trolling with baited three-way rigs. Others troll crankbaits on leadcore line, positioning their baits just above bottom. This is a key presentation later, when postspawn fish disperse downriver into Lake Pepin. High water in late March and early April generally sends the fish shallow to spawn in a maze of flooded backwaters and channels, and fishing can be challenging. Still, there are big fish to be caught if you can find where they hold. Flooded wood cover adjacent to current flow is often key, even in as little as 3 to 4 feet of water. Most folks consider this a difficult time to fish, however, and prefer late-winter jigging to postspawn dispersal through the shallows maze of islands and timber. Any of the dams downstream to the Iowa border are fair game for open-water winter walleyes. As long as you have a valid Minnesota fishing license, you don’t need a Wisconsin license to fish. Rainy River at Baudette, Minnesota-Ontario The early walleye season on the Rainy River is one of the most popular walleye fishing opportunities in Minnesota, and is taken advantage of by thousands of anglers every year. In actuality, it is a late season, where the winter walleye season remains open until April 15, when it closes to allow for walleye spawning, reopening in mid-May. Basically, ice may begin leaving the productive river stretches anywhere from early March to early April-or in cold years, not at all prior to the 15th. So you need to react to the conditions and plan accordingly. When the bite is on, the word gets out, and anglers flock to the river in hordes. Fishing on weekends may require two-hour waits at boat launches to get your boat in and out, and patience has been know to wear thin at times. Far better is fishing during the week to avoid the brunt of the crowds. Boat accesses near Birchdale, Frontier and Clementson provide easy access to a key 30to 40-mile stretch below Birchdale and Manitou Rapids, although you can launch in Baudette or nearer to the mouth of the Rainy River and run far upstream as well. In a nutshell, this is classic vertical jigging for walleyes at its finest, focusing mainly on deep holes found at river bends where migratory walleyes from Lake of the Woods periodically pause and gather on their upstream spawning run. If you simply drift a 1/4- to 3/8-ounce jig tipped with a minnow, tapping it on and off bottom at about the 10- to 15-foot level, most of the time, you’re

S e a s o n

w i t h

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going to get bit. On the best days, it’s 100 fish per boat. On poor days, or during muddy water conditions, it may be considerably less. So you take your chances and roll the dice. Walleyes can run big, topping 10 pounds, with an abundance of 4 to 7s. The kicker is, during this extended season, you must release all walleyes exceeding 19.5 inches, and can only keep 2 smaller ones. Most anglers appear to come strictly for the catch-and-release experience, which at this time of the year is a welcome relief to winter’s icy grip. This is one instance where you need to observe the international boundary, however, and comply with several regulations. With a Minnesota fishing license, for example, you must launch your boat in Minnesota and can only fish out to the midpoint of the river. To also fish in Ontario waters, you’ll need to first obtain an Ontario fishing license, and a Remote Area Border Crossing permit (also known as an RABC--available at Ontario Customs-Immigration, across the bridge in Rainy River). To use live minnows as bait in Ontario, you’ll need a receipt to show that you purchased your minnows on the Ontario side; it’s illegal to bring live minnows across the international border, although dead minnows are allowed. Chalk it all up to Homeland Security. It’s easy to see why all but a few fishermen avoid the hassle and

fish only on the U. S. side. Walleye fishing can be excellent from the very f i r s t open water at Franz Jevne State Park, stretching farther downriver to other areas a s the ice leaves the river. The monkey wrench, howeve r , comes later, when the Big Fork a n d

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D a v e

C s a n d a 17


Little Fork Rivers shed their ice and dump muddy water into the Rainy, which tends to shut down the fishing. Try to fish prior to or well after this annual occurrence, if possible. For up-to-date river ice conditions and fishing reports, check out www.clementsonresort.com. Numerous lodging is available in Baudette, and at resorts near the mouth of the river. Lakes Traverse and Big Stone, Minnesota-South Dakota The ice goes out early in sunbaked, fertile farm country along Minnesota’s shared border with South Dakota. As these large, shallow, dark-water lakes soak up heat from the sun, they warm up quickly to kick off the food chain and provide good early fishing. And with the walleye season here opening in mid to late April (check new 2009 regulations when they become available), you can easily jumpstart your season just a couple of hours drive from home. Anglers who fish the Brainerd area are accustomed to deeper, clearer waters with classic walleye structure like reefs, points and offshore humps. But here, think more in terms of shallower, subtler fishing areas with visible rocks, emerging weeds, and the warmest water available to draw both baitfish and walleyes. Consequently, shallow fishing tactics predominate, such as casting jigs or crankbaits to boulder-strewn shorelines, or drifting or trolling across shallow flats. Use an underhand flip with spinning gear to sail an 1/8-ounce jig tipped with a minnow or Berkley PowerBait Minnow, right up to shoreline rocks dropping into 2 or 3 feet of water. Experiment between slow swimming and lift-dropping retrieves to see which variation the fish prefer as you stealthily bring your lure back

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to the boat. Or cast a shallow Shad Rap crankbait and crawl it back to the boat with a subtle wiggle. One of the best tactics for locating shallow walleyes here is trolling with planer boards to spread your lines out to either side of the boat, running shallow-diving Rapala Minnows or small Shad Raps across 3- to 4-foot flats with emerging weedgrowth. The fish may be spooky and difficult to approach within casting distance in such shallow water; stealthy trolling with planer boards, however, reaches out to contact them without alerting them to your presence. And when fishing these border waters, two lines per angler are allowed, expanding your trolling coverage and efficiency. Back Home in Brainerd Experiencing these early walleye bonuses may spoil you, especially since the walleye season opener in the Brainerd lakes area may still be weeks away. But the nice thing is, you’ll have worked out the bugs in your tackle and equipment, and be rigged and ready to go come the second Saturday in May. It’s like having a whole new opener again, filled with similar anticipation and excitement. Think of it as a re-opener, where many of the same shallow fishing tactics you’ve already caught walleyes on continue to apply during the first week or two of the new season.

S e a s o n

After 28 years as a magazine editor and TV angler at In-Fisherman, D A V E C S A N D A recently rejoined his old friends at Lindner Media, producers of Angling Edge Television, in Baxter.

w i t h

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Anglers will “Reel-In” Much Needed Funds for Minnesota Teen Challenge What: Inaugural Minnesota Fishing Challenge (Multi-Species Fishing Tournament Benefiting Minnesota Teen Challenge)

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When: Saturday, May, 30 Where: Gull Lake, north of Brainerd Anglers of all skill-levels will come together to compete and “reel-in” funds for Minnesota Teen Challenge, one of the most successful drug and alcohol treatment programs in the state. The event will be held on Gull Lake on May 30. Al Lindner will serve as honorary tournament director. “I believe strongly in this cause, and will do everything possible to assist Minnesota Teen Challenge and make this a great fishing event on one of my favorite lakes,” Lindner said. Two-person teams may compete in a single division or try for all species. The entry fee is $100 per team. Entries will be accepted until the 100-team field is set. Teams then have until mid-May to raise a minimum of $500 in tax-deductible sponsorship fees. “This great cause should be an easy-sell with sponsorship support from families, friends, co-workers, businesses, and others,” Lindner said. “I bet many teams will find more than $500 in sponsorships.” The Fishing Challenge is open to all ages. If team members are both under 16, they must have a non-fishing guardian or parent present in the boat. Trophies for each category are based on weights. Only the largest pike and bass will be eligible for prizes. In the walleye category, three walleyes may be weighed. The panfish division is open for any combination of three bluegills, sunfish or perch. An array of prizes will be awarded to the heaviest catches per division. Every contestant will win merchandise. To register, visit www.mntc.org/fishingchallenge. The weigh-in site will be at Ernie’s on Gull Lake, where Fishing for Life activities and an archery shooting range hosted by CenterShot Archery will be open to youngsters. These hands-on games are free to the public, as will be the 4 p.m. stage show and weigh-in ceremonies. Minnesota Teen Challenge is a faith-based organization to help people find freedom from the destructive habits of alcohol and drug abuse. Sam Anderson, director of the Brainerd facility said, “This type of support from the fishing fraternity means so much to Minnesota Teen Challenge. Thank you. Our goal is to help each person who walks through our doors find true freedom from addiction. Hope is being restored one life at a time here at Minnesota Teen Challenge.”

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19


HAPPY CAMPERS

20

Some of the best memories of spending time together as a family begin with the phrase, “One time when we were camping…” or “On this one camping trip…” Hotels these days offer the draw of water parks, casinos and other attractions — like the absence of small critters that bite — so it’s easy to see why staying indoors when out of doors has become more popular than facing the elements. But the stories and memories might not be near as much fun. Just when you thought this might be the year to step back, forgo that family vacation and break the news to the family, that doesn’t have to be the case at all. It’s still possible to dig out the map, pick a destination, near or far and make some great family memories together. This may be the perfect year to be a little creative, pull that tent out of the attic, round up some insect repellent and add some camping pages to the family scrapbook.

are ideally located next to beautiful lakes or rivers and hiking trails. A visit to a national park is another possibility and can offer days of endless sightseeing. Smoldering embers, the symphony of frogs and crickets after dark and the remnants of melted marshmallows on the tips of your fingers are the perfect ways to end a day of playing on the water, hiking in the woods or exploring an attraction away from home. The trip can also be as modern or as primitive as your family decides. Do you want to sleep in a tent and listen to the call of the wild outside the canvas or pull a tent camper or RV behind the family rig? Don’t rule out tent camping too fast –the structures have come a long way. Many include multiple rooms, screened entries and a durability that may surprise you. Wander the aisles of the local retailer or sporting goods store and you may be surprised at how comfortable they’ve become.

A camping trip can cost as much or as little as you desire. The price of gas is still teetering on affordable and you can choose a destination as close as the nearest lake or a couple of states away. A site in one of our user friendly state park can be had for around $20 a night with a small fee for electric, water and sewer, but most

If you do decide to purchase a tent get one that gives you plenty of room for sleeping and some extra space for things you don’t want to leave outside. Purchase seam sealer to keep things tight and your belongings dry. After a long day of hiking, sight-seeing and playing in the water sleeping out of doors is a great way to

Happy

Campers

Photos provided by Sheila Helmberger


ensure one of the most relaxing night’s sleep you’ve had in a long time. The list of things to take for a camping trip away from home seems long, but it will make the trip go a little smoother and ensure fun for every member of the party, especially if you all share the work. Start a list of things you’ll want to take in advance of the trip and add to as the trip nears. Remember, depending on where your site is the trip to the local convenience store might be a jaunt. Here’s a few things to remember: trash bags, a trustworthy camp stove, a lantern with fuel, flashlights with extra batteries, a well stocked first aid kit, tarps for under the tent and over other items, cooking and eating utensils, a hammer, rope for clotheslines for wet clothing and towels, coolers, sleeping bags, pillows, hiking boots, a can opener and binoculars for spotting the wildlife that will share your temporary living space. Make shopping for food an adventure. Plan breakfasts, dinners and snacks. Being outside all day will make for a starving family at meal time. The reward is food cooked outside over an open fire or camp stove. Other packing possibilities include: The family pet. Most campgrounds welcome Fido – ask when making reservations. Some may have rules to follow about proper supervision. Toys. From a friendly game of cards or hot competition during a board game to jetting around on the water

- the sky is really the limit when it comes to entertainment. It’s your vacation. If you’re able to bring the boat, jet skis or other water toys you can incorporate a fishing outing or days of water play. Products to help you beat the bugs. Bug sprays, foggers, and ointment for the bites that will inevitably happen anyway should be included on your packing list. Also sun screen and aloe. Plastic totes. These can be a lifesaver for gear and food. It will also make it harder for your four legged fellow campers to help themselves to your goodies. Rain, rain, go away. A rainy day doesn’t have to be a wasted day. Have a back-up plan and a day trip in mind to someplace interesting nearby if you need it. In your suitcases include rain gear and a couple of heavy sweaters or jackets for those cool summer evenings. If you want to make it a real vacation with quality time as a family leave the cell phone, IOnternet connection, and ipods at home. And don’t forget the camera. There are pages to add in that scrapbook.

S H E I L A H E L M B E R G E R has a jour-

nalism degree. She is a mother of three, and contributes regularly to various local publications.

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21


Brainerd Lakes area continues to step it up a gear as a premier bicycling destination

PEDALING THE GOODS 22

The trail, a multi-use system built in cooperation between Cass County and the City of East Gull Lake, spans 7 miles, from the East Gull Lake Airport to the Gull Lake Dam Recreation Area. And much more growth is planned. The next phase is to close the loop to the section of the trail that runs from the airport to the trail just across from the Cragun’s Resort entrance — a short leg of about a quarter of a mile. Then, according to Mark Kavanaugh, co-owner of Kavanaugh’s Resort, which is located near the trail, the plan is “to continue the trail on County Road 18 at The Classic Golf Course south to the junction of 120th Street.” “This will give us the eventual connection to the Baxter trails and the Paul Bunyan Trail,” Kavanaugh said during the trail extension ribbon-cutting ceremony last year. “And to continue the trail along Pine Beach Peninsula Road — the entry to Madden’s — to give access to the trail to residents of Green Hill and the Pine Beach Peninsula. And expand the trail on the north side of County Road 77 from the future Pine Beach Peninsula trail to the East Pointe Trail. The advantage here would be the elimination of the number of crossings of County Road 77.” The Cuyuna Lakes State Trail, a paved 5-mile-plus trail that

THERE WAS A TIME WHEN BICYCLE ENTHUSIASTS

were plenty satisfied with just the Paul Bunyan Trail. Through the years, the trail has grown and grown and now stretches north from Baxter to Bemidji. Who could ask for more? Those same area bike enthusiasts. Not that they necessarily did. But they got it. A trail in East Gull Lake also has sprouted, with more growth planned. And for mountain bikers, the DNR plans to build 37.5 miles of mountain bike trails entirely within the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area. This in addition to the Cuyuna Lakes State Trail, a paved 5-mile-plus trail that currently runs through the CCSRA and will be used as a connection trail from which the dirt trail will jump off at several locations. And, of course, the PBT. Yes, the lakes area is fast becoming a world-class bicycling destination. IN THE BRAINERD LAKE AREA

CUYUNA COUNTRY STATE RECREATION AREA MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAILS

Long awaited by mountain bikers in these parts, the 12- to 60-inch-wide, natural-surface trail would be built to accommodate beginner, intermediate and advanced skill levels. For hardcore mountain bikers, the closest such runs through the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, trail was probably in western North will be used as a connection trail from which a planned PAUL BUNYAN TRAIL Dakota — the 96-mile Maah Daah Hey mountain bike trail will jump off at several locations. The Paul Bunyan Trail is one of Trail. the premier recreation trails in the Construction of the trail is to begin this spring at the earli- state, if not the nation, officially opening on Oct. 15, 1995. est, according to the environmental assessment worksheet, Since then, work on extending and improving the trail has and be completed in three years or less. been nearly constant. Last year, a $1.5 million pedestrian-biAccording to the EAW, the proposed Cuyuna Lakes Moun- cycle bridge was built to help remedy a potential traffic haztain Bike Trail would be located in four main recreation ard where the trail meets busy Excelsior Road in Baxter. And units within the CCSRA — The Sagamore, Mahnomen, Ports- the Bemidji-to-Guthrie segment of the trail was completed mouth and Yawkey units. late last year. The segment stretches for approximately 11.5 Extreme mountain bikers will appreciate the Yawkey Unit, miles between the two communities, primarily along the old which will include up to 8 miles of very difficult (black Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad grade. Bridges were diamond) and 2 miles of extremely difficult (double black constructed along the route in 2002. diamond) trails. Features will include boulders, earthen DNR Trails & Waterways intends to construct the Guthriemounds, timber structures and other physical challenges, to-Walker segment of the trail this year, providing a continuwith grades of more than 20 percent, according to the EAW. ous paved trail connection from Bemidji to Baxter. For those looking for an easier ride, the Sagamore Unit Future trail and bridge construction is ultimately planned will include up to 1.5 miles and the Mahnomen Unit up to in the southern part of Bemidji and in Crow Wing State Park 6 miles of easiest- and easy-rated trails. The Mahnomen Unit to fully complete the trail. Once finished, it will extend for will be the longest stretch — 24 miles. approximately 110 miles from Crow Wing State Park, just The project area will be adjacent to seven lakes and trails south of Brainerd, to Lake Bemidji State Park, north of Bewill be routed within 50 feet of the shoreline of lakes to take midji. advantage of the natural and visual features. Between Hackensack and Walker, the trail forks off to the And, of course, there’s the existing paved Cuyuna Lakes Heartland Trail, a paved 27-mile path that runs to Park RapState Trail, which winds along and around numerous pit ids and also joins the Paul Bunyan Trail to lakes — from Croft Mine Park in Crosby to Riverton. form the Paul Bunyan and Heartland Trails Corridor, a 20-mile paved segment from WalkEAST GULL LAKE RECREATION TRAIL er to Cass Lake. A 4.2-mile extension was completed last spring, winding B R I A N S . P E T E R S O N , Outdoors along the plush fairways of Madden’s on Gull’s “The Classic” Editor, may be reached at brian.peterson@ Golf Course and Cragun’s Resort’s Legacy courses. brainerddispatch.com or at 855-5864.

Pedaling

The

Goods

Photo provided by Brian S. Peterson


NORTHLAND ARBORETUM “SPRING IS COMING” Spring is on its way! As the snow melts, the Northland Arboretum comes alive. Through the 12 miles of trails, we will see an abundance of wildlife awaken and be on the move. The Northland Arboretum has been designated as one of our nation’s “Important Bird Areas”. A comprehensive study was done by the DNR. Many volunteers gave of their time to complete this study. A number of natural bird communities are represented within our 540 acres at the arboretum, each having its own unique assemblage of birds. There are over 76 species of birds that call the arb their home at different times of the year. Pick up a free Birding Pamphlet at the Visitor Center to help test your skills in identifying and logging the birds you spot. Whether you go birding, or hike the trails, you will truly enjoy nature and discover all that spring has to offer. The Northland Arboretum is a non-profit nature conservancy in the heart of the cities of Brainerd and Baxter. Your membership and entrance fees help support the gardens, education demonstration sites and programs, and help defray the costs of maintaining and operating the arboretum. Help preserve our green space and wildlife to be enjoyed for generations to come!

Purple Finch

Pileated Woodpecker

Red Poll

Osprey

JOIN THE ARB, Volunteer, and enjoy spring with us!

UPCOMING EVENTS

Mark Your Calendars!

~ Low Maintenance Gardening – March 11th ~ The Beauty and Wildlife of Costa Rica – March 18th ~ 4th Annual Family Education Program presented by the Science Museum of MN – March 21st ~ Cooking with Honey – March 26th ~ Advances in Water Quality/Shoreline Management – April 8th ~ Landscape Design/Water Feature Class – April 11th ~ Advances in Catching Walleye and Cooking Walleye – April 18th ~ Earth Day Celebration/Exhibits and Seminars – April 22nd ~ Arbor Day Celebration – April 24th Send us your e-mail address and we will mail you our list of programs and events. Call or stop by our Visitor Center, located behind Westgate Shopping Mall on Conservation Drive, or visit our web site, arb@brainerd.com for information on these and other events and classes at the arb. Photos provided by Thelma Williams

A r b o r e t u m 23


GOLF

Getting Ready for Spring

SPRING SUNSHINE WARMING THE HILLSIDES REVEALING THOSE PATCHES OF NEW GRASS MAKES IDLE

We are eager to get outside, escaping the confines of winter and quelling our thirst to return to the world of “golf green.” March is a good time to make a plan; prepare and improve. This includes getting in shape physically and mentally, equipment review, new purchase needs and a search for early season specials. If you weren’t looking for deals over the winter spring is a great time to look for those bargains. In these economic times there are more deals then usual on the internet for new or used equipment sales and out of business close-outs. Getting your equipment out and looking it over for repairs you may find reasons to purchase new equipment. Remember that golf uses tools and like any craft that uses tools, the better the tools the easier the craft. Getting the right clubs that fit and using them correctly are paramount to becoming a better golfer. You may have outgrown your equipment as you have improved, or aged! Now is a good time to check in with your local course golf pro and have them assess your equipment, swing and areas for improvement. Having a pro review your swing, before many practice repetitions, can help make corrections needed early and help diminish bad swing habits. Mark Johnson, director of Golf at Breezy Point, offers a free assessment lesson for equipment and technique and can be reached at 800950-4960. It’s important to have a regimen of exercises for conditioning and flexing to prepare the arms, legs and body for the motion of swinging a club. Most of us get a little stiff over winter so flexing is good to get the muscles, joints and heart accustomed to our new activity. If you do not have a regular exercise program and have been mostly idle over the winter, it is important to begin a program to get you into shape prior to picking up a club. Determine a list

GOLFERS ITCHY FOR ACTION.

24 G o l f :

Getting

Redy

for

of stretching and strengthening exercises targeted at your weaknesses. Conditioning should focus on balance, strengthening and mental preparation. Stretching arms, legs, hand squeezes, squats, sit-ups, push-ups and bending should be included. First and foremost, walk. Walking is a natural exercise that we were designed to do. Everything external and internal, including our minds, gets stronger from walking. It should be a three-times-a-week ritual always but if you haven’t been walking, it’s time to start. The main benefit of walking is strengthening our core being. When we walk our abdomen tightens, our breathing is more correct and we strengthen our core internally as we also exercise our legs and arms. Literally everything on our bodies moves when we walk. We want to increase our breathing, strengthen our core abdomen and cardiovascular system to become stronger and better balanced. Try to walk a mile minimum each time. Work on hand grip strength, as a firm grip is important to improving drive distance. Use a hand spring and do repetitive squeezes. This can be done while walking as well. Having good balance and comfort in your stance is vital to accuracy. For balance, start by standing on one leg with eyes closed, then alternate. Sitting on a large exercise ball or straddling a roller board are excellent. The usual conditioning exercises are great and should be done three times weekly; sit-ups, push-ups, lunges, squats and others you enjoy, working on your specific weaknesses. Mental preparation is accomplished by different methods that work for you. We are all a little different but approaching the ball and swinging is a ritual that we must master to be consistent and to improve our game. Concentration is necessary to become a consistent golfer and for rebounding from bad shots. It is important to see the shot and not to be distracted by all the negative ele-

Spring


ments that may happen with the shot. Concentration is key and needs to be accomplished in a golf group or audience situation. For problems here self- hypnosis works for some. Find more to read on balance and mental preparation here: http://www.urgolfzone.com. Begin your practice swings with some instructional or reading review. It is important to make a mental imprint of correct technique as you reintroduce your body and mind to the process. You want to prevent developing and practicing bad habits. Brian Erickson, a pro at Craguns, offers some instructional tips along with Mike Wolen of Lakeland Public TV on 10 great short videos for improving; posture, swing, club selection, chipping, putting and more. Find these free videos online at: http:// craguns.com/golf/instruction/golf-tips.html A good walking game to play before the courses are open and to avoid walking boredom is “snow trap”. Snow trap is a game played where there are patches of snow scattered around a field that have not yet melted. This is a good way to get your walking exercise and practice some iron swings. You can also work on you shots with a wedge by putting your ball in the snow and using the same sand wedge technique for shots out of the trap. The snow is beady and sand-like from the melt and acts very much the same as sand. Kids have a great time too and it’s good practice for them as well. Start good habits shaking off the rust at Craguns 9-hole par 3’s practice course and try out demo equipment from the pro shop before you buy. For the ladies, Craguns offers a special price five-week improvement course, beginning April 5 that is open to any level of golfer, including beginners and with clubs provided. Find all the specials for Craguns at: http://craguns. com/golf/instruction/index.html The Brainerd lakes srea has 47 golf courses and is known as the Brainerd Lakes Trail. These courses stretch from Alexandria to Fort Ripley, and Aitkin to Staples. Seventeen of them rank with the best courses in the world. Unlike most of the world class golf courses, the courses of the Brainerd Lakes Trail have much lower fees. The beauty of the lush green and hardwoods makes them as beautiful as any in the world. Most open April 15, some hope as early as April 5th and most offer specials in spring on green fees, lessons and equipment. This is a good directory site for phone info/reservations of most of the courses in the Lakes area: http://www.minnesotagolf.com/fair ways/region1. asp?Region=1 and this web site has great course information; ratings, length, maps, golf packages, etc: http://www.brainerd.com/golf/index.html Four!!!

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Outdoors O

today in th 1

Spring Light Goose Opener Crow Hunting Season (1-31)

MARCH

2

Ice houses must be off the ice south of Hwy 200 and Hwy 2

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Polar Bear Plunge

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Whitefish Area Lions Easter Egg Hunt Pequot Lakes Easter Egg Hunt

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

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Spring Fling

Ice houses must be off the ice each night unless attended north of Hwy 200 and Hwy 2

8th Annual Cuyuna Range Chili Cook-Off

Brainerd Easter Egg Hunt

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Brainerd RV & Boat Show March 19-22

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Arbor Day Celebration Gregory Park

Little Falls RadioHome, Garden & Leisure show

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30 2008 Fishing

Licenses Expire Close of Spring Light Goose Season

Close of Winter Lake Trout Season

MAY

1

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Deadline for Bear & Moose License Applications

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Hoofin’ for H.A.R.T. Companion Walk

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Governor’s Fishing OpenerWhite Bear lake March 9-10

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Muskie Opener

Annual State Park Open House

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Aitkin County River & Lakes Fair

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Nisswa Stamman Scandinavian Festival June 12-13

Nisswa Turtle Races

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Bass Opener

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JUNE

Pequot Lakes Cherry Car Show

7

Walleye, Sauger and Northern Pike Opener

Trout Fishing Opener in Streams Lakes Area Women’s Expo

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Moondance Jammin Country Fest June 18-20

13 Commit To Get Fit 5K Fun Run/Walk

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Confidence Learning Center Annual Fishing Tournament

Annual Confidence Learning Center Golf Classic

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Nisswa Turtle Races

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Fly In and Car Show

Memorial Day

30

For more information or more events, log on to:

www.dnr.state.mn.us/events/index www.explorebrainerdlakes.com n3 Issue 2 • Editio Issue 2 • Editio n3

Featured in

this issue

MMER EARLY-SUOUTH BASS SMALELM CSANDA BY: DAV

PLUS MORE! try By: Jake Kulju • Cuyuna Coun te By: Molly Ring • ATV Upda l s By: Bill Marche • Wild Babie ki r By: Ted Takasa • Crappie Cove Air stories nd & In theLee Lambrecht Grou the By: Andrea New • On

Read Online:

Glossy_Summ

er 08.indd

ispatch.com

www.brainerdd

Look for the Summer 2009 Issue of Outdoor Traditions publishing online June 5th.

this issue

PLUS MORE! • Cuyuna Coun try By: Jake Kulju • ATV Upda te By: Molly Ring

• Wild Babie s By: Bill Marche l • Crappie Cove r By: Ted Takasa ki nd & In the Air stories By: Andrea Lee

New • On the Grou

Lambrecht

Read Online:

Glossy_Summ er 08.indd

AM 2/19/09 9:48

1

26 C a l e n d a r

Featured in

EARLYSMAL SUMMER BASS

BY: DAVELMOUTH CSANDA

www.brainerdd

ispatch.com

1

2/19/09 9:48 AM

o f

E v e n t s


t e!

ter

Your Dawn Hines

Best Shot

Brainerd, MN

I took this picture of a Great Blue Heron at Kiwanis Park in Brainerd. It’s his favorite place to eat and he’s not afraid of people. It was easy to get close to photograph him and enjoy his beauty.

Send a slide or print to “Your Best Shot” Brainerd Dispatch, P.O. Box 574, 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. If your photo is not chosen, all appropriate images will be included on the “We Spotted” section of our website. They will be displayed there for three months, running concurrently with the season and/or until the next “OUTDOOR Traditions” publishes. Deadline for the spring edition is May 15, 2009. 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.

Glossy_Spring 09.indd 3

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Outdoor Traditions - Spring 2009