A few odds and ends on this chilly Friday:
Bring on the cold
The onset of cold weather came none too soon for ice fishing enthusiasts across the region and the resorts and outfitters who depend on those ice fishing enthusiasts for their winter income.
Photos this morning on various social media sites show Lake of the Woods finally is capped over, as is the Rainy River, both of which had extensive areas of open water even yesterday. Creel Bay on Devils Lake finally iced up, as well.
What a difference a day makes. It’s about time.
I’ve seen several reports from resort owners on Lake of the Woods saying they hope to have their rental shacks on the ice sometime between Christmas and New Year’s. Whether that’s overly optimistic remains to be seen. Regardless, this year marks only the third time in about 25 years that resorts up there haven’t been on the ice before Christmas.
The cold snap also should help seal the cracks that formed this week on Upper Red Lake during strong winds. Walleye fishing on the big lake has been good, of late, but that was overshadowed Monday by a crack that opened along the south shore, forcing the rescue of nearly 50 fishermen who were stranded on the wrong side of the crack.
A few more days like this, and it will be back to business as usual. Bring it on.
I was chatting with a Canadian friend yesterday, a retired game warden who lives near Selkirk, Man., and he was saying ice fishing is in full swing along the Manitoba portion of the Red River from Selkirk north to the mouth at Lake Winnipeg. That surprised me, given the unusually warm temperatures that have dominated winter to this point. There also has been a fair bit of ATV traffic on the river, he said, and after the 7 to 8 inches of snow that fell up there Wednesday, he said he expects there’ll be plenty of snowmobile traffic, as well.
I’m looking to make a trip up there over New Year’s, weather permitting, but even then, I’ll probably just walk out. That portion of the Red offers plenty of productive fishing spots within easy walking distance, so there’s no point in taking any chances. We’ll see what happens.
Go fly a kite
My cover story in the Herald’s Sunday Outdoors section features Jack Kukowski of Badger, Minn., who’s among a small, but loyal segment of outdoors enthusiasts who are into ice kiting and snow kiting.
I met up with Kukowski a couple of weeks ago on a frozen pool of the Roseau River Wildlife Management Area — “the Bog,” as locals call it — and he gave me a demonstration on ice kiting.
With very few exceptions, it seemed like every outdoors excursion I made this fall presented winds that were too strong for my tastes. Just my luck, then, that I’d pick a day when the wind didn’t blow to schedule my kiting story with Kukowski.
Ideally, Kukowski says, he likes winds of 8 to 10 mph — 12 mph is even better — for launching his kites and catching a wind-powered ride. By the time we met up two weeks ago, however, the wind had dropped to about 7 mph.
Still, there was enough wind to at least get a feel for kiting, and why it’s become such a winter passion for Kukowski since he got into the sport in 2007.
You can check out the story on Page E1 of Sunday’s Northland Outdoors section or under the Outdoors link on the Grand Forks Herald website. There’ll also be a short video of the kite in flight on the website.