High water forces organizers to postpone Drayton catfish tourney

High water on the Red River has forced organizers of the 13th annual Rod and Reel Rally Catfishing Tournament near Drayton, N.D., to postpone the competition until Aug. 24.

The tournament originaly was scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 21 at Hastings Landing Recreation Area in downtown Drayton.

Prizes and entry fees will remain the same. Entry fees are available at Red River Bait Shop, (701) 454-6184 and KXPO Radio in Grafton, N.D., at (701) 352-0431. More info: chamber@draytonND.com or

High water on the Red River has forced organizers of the 13th annual Rod and Reel Rally Catfishing Tournament near Drayton, N.D., to postpone the competition until Aug. 24.

The tournament originaly was scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 21 at Hastings Landing Recreation Area in downtown Drayton.

Prizes and entry fees will remain the same. Entry fees are available at Red River Bait Shop, (701) 454-6184 and KXPO Radio in Grafton, N.D., at (701) 352-0431. More info: chamber@draytonND.com or draytonnd.com.

.

Closing out 2012 on the ice

I closed out 2012 on a fine note, fishing three out of the last four days of the year.

Friday, a friend and I joined Darwin Sumner and Daris Rosebear of Seven Clans Casino in Red Lake, Minn., for a day of trout fishing on the Red Lake Indian Reservation. This winter, for the first time, the band is allowing nontribal members to fish four small lakes on the reservation stocked with rainbow trout and brook trout.

To fish the lakes, nontribal members must be accompanied by a reservation guide, and Seven Clans Casino is offering fully outfitted trout-fishing trips throughout the winter months. In other words, just show up and they’ll provide the gear and heated portable fish houses. A one-day license costs $10, and longer-length licenses also are available. Because the Red Lake Indian Reservation is a sovereign nation, regulations differ from state-managed waters in Minnesota, and a trout stamp isn’t required.

An average-size rainbow trout from a small lake in the Red Lake Indian Reservation. (Brad Dokken photo)

The lakes might be small, but the trout are dandies. One of us who shall remain nameless had trouble putting fish on the ice, but the trout mostly cooperated, and “we” landed several rainbows ranging from 16 inches to 22 inches. No brook trout were landed, but my fishing partner lost one at the hole.

We fished two small lakes and didn’t see another person the entire day. The scenery and the quality of fishing rivals the kind of experience you might expect venturing into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in winter — within a 2½-hour drive of Grand Forks.

I’ll have a story about the reservation’s trout fishing opportunities in Sunday’s Northland Outdoors Section. For more information on the reservation’s winter trout excursions, click here:

Saturday, I ventured north to join longtime friend and fishing partner Jim Stinson of Lockport, Man., to try our luck on Lake Winnipeg and the Red River.

Hmmm … where do I go now? Trying to navigate a large expanse of rough ice Sunday on Lake Winnipeg proved to be a challenge even by snowmobile (Brad Dokken photo)

Late Sunday morning, as we drove snowmobiles onto the massive expanse of Lake Winnipeg, we were greeted by several miles of some of the roughest ice I’ve ever seen. Jagged shards of ice, some more than 3 feet tall, covered one area of the lake for what seemed to be several miles in every direction, preventing us from reaching one of our time-proven fishing spots.

The rough ice forced us to backtrack and search for a smoother place to set up the portable, but we finally had our lines in the water about 12:30 p.m. Considering we basically picked a spot at random, fishing wasn’t bad at all, and we landed 10 walleyes

Few places can rival Lake Winnipeg, where walleyes generally seem to be 20 inches or longer. Brad Dokken landed this 25-incher early Sunday afternoon.

ranging from 20 inches to 27 inches in length by the time we packed up and headed for shore four hours later. In my experience, there’s nowhere within easy driving distance that rivals Lake Winnipeg for quality-size walleyes. There’s not much infrastructure such as the rental houses and plowed access roads, but for anglers with the means and desire to explore, the walleyes are well worth the effort.

Monday, we shifted gears and fished the Red River not far from Selkirk. We accessed the river by snowmobile, but lots of anglers were getting around in full-size pickups on ice that was about 14 inches thick.

Winter fishing on the Manitoba side of the Red River generally is better early in the morning in my experience, and while we didn’t start fishing until after 11 a.m., the two of us managed to scratch out an eight-fish limit — five walleyes and three saugers — before heading home about 4 p.m.

Jim also had a fish snap his line that left us wondering what might have been.

Nothing came easy those two days, but there are worse ways to wrap up a year than catching fish on Lake Winnipeg and the Red River.

DNR confirms zebra mussels in lower Otter Tail River

It’s probably just a matter of time now before zebra mussels make their ugly appearance along the Grand Forks stretch of the Red River and points downstream.

The presence of larval-stage zebra mussels, or veligers, was confirmed in 2010 at the source of the Red River in Wahpeton-Breckenridge after the invasive species was found the previous year in Pelican Lake farther upstream in the Red River watershed.

Since then, there haven’t been any confirmed reports of adult zebra mussels in the Red. But this week, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, confirmed the presence of adult zebra mussels in the Otter Tail River downstream from the Orwell Dam. DNR officials said low water levels in the river revealed zebra mussels of various sizes attached to rocks and debris.

As a result, lower reaches of the Otter Tail River from the confluence of the Pelican River downstream to the Bois De Sioux River confluence — where the Red River begins — will be designated as infested waters.

The DNR also will designate Lake Miltona and Lake Ida as infested waters, the latter for precautionary reasons because it is the next lake downstream from Miltona.

There was at least a glimmer of good news, though, in Lake Irene in Douglas County and Rose Lake in Otter Tail County, where DNR officials didn’t find any larval zebra mussels after an eradication effort to remove juvenile zebra mussels that had been found in small, localized areas of both lakes.

The DNR used copper sulfate in an attempt to eradicate the mussels and completed fieldwork to evaluate the efforts this past week.

“We did not find any veligers in our water samples or large zebra mussels during our scuba searches this summer,” said Nathan Olson, DNR invasive species specialist in Fergus Falls. “However, during our fall searches, we did find adult zebra mussels in both lakes.”

In a news release, Olson said that because monitoring efforts did not produce any veligers or juvenile zebra mussels, the DNR cannot confirm that zebra mussels have reproduced in either lake. The recent find of adult mussels means that despite early detection and a rapid DNR response, efforts to kill the zebra mussels in these lakes were not successful.

DNR staff will continue to monitor these lakes next year to evaluate the zebra mussel populations.

More information about aquatic invasive species is available on DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/ais.