The silence of last year’s solo hikes was a welcome calm at first. Fourteen months of COVID-19 isolation made me eager for a return to outdoor friends.  On May 2 my first group hike broke the silence with friendly chatter and animal calls from nature. Other people felt the same longing for t…

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Walleye fishing season is right around the corner!  If you are like me, you have been waiting for this day since putting the boat away last fall.  With the season just days away, having a good game plan for “the opener” and the weeks ahead can mean the difference between spring fishing succe…

It started out so innocently. I was reading the May 2009 edition of Backpacker magazine and came across an article titled America’s Best Day Hikes. Under the Midwest Prairie suggestions was a 9-mile hike in the Sheyenne National Grassland (SNG) with the following description.

Many anglers, this one included, can’t wait for ice out to head for their favorite crappie lake and wet a line in open water for the season’s first time. Those just-after-ice out trips sometimes produce good fishing, but at other times the fish seem to be nonexistent. The fact is that as the…

The Fergus Falls DNR fisheries crew is preparing for the annual Walleye egg take at Walker Lake Hatchery. The hatchery is located at the inlet of Dead River to Walker Lake and has been operated since 1974. It is one of 12 seasonal, cool water hatcheries operated by the DNR in Minnesota and o…

The Otter Tail County’s Dock and Riparian Use Ordinance requires docks and lifts to be registered with the county when being moved from one body of water to another. Minnesota law requires dock and lifts to be dried for 21 days before moving from one body of water to another.

Most of my recent hikes are done solo or, on occasion, Bandit joins me for a stop-and-go dog walk where he sniffs out a recent frog sighting or a curious gopher mound. The pandemic has had us all doing more solo activities.

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For many local anglers, the first fishing outing of the year will be to try their luck at some spring crappie fishing.  The weather patterns this spring have been inconsistent, with a lot of cold fronts.  The next period of extended warm weather that we receive will mean one thing.  The sun’…



Spring is here and open water is starting to appear all across the Midwest.  For lots of anglers, that means it’s time to break open the jig box and head to their favorite walleye waters.  Jigs tipped with minnows as well as those dressed with a variety of soft baits are often what catch the…

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) has implemented a new program called the Quality Sunfish Initiative or QSI. QSI is the result of an angler-driven concern over the declining size of sunfish in Minnesota lakes.  In an angler questionnaire, a majority of anglers indicated …

Beginning April 5, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will lead an intensive invasive carp removal effort in Pool 8 of the Mississippi River near La Crosse, Wisconsin. The innovative modified unified method (MUM) combines netting and herding techniques to drive and concentrate inv…

The following article is a general outlook for the 2021 fishing opener in the Fergus Falls area.  With the fishing opener less than six weeks away, many avid anglers are already preparing their gear and contemplating which species and lake(s) they should target.  Here are some things to cons…

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The Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener to be held May 13-15, in Otter Tail County is only weeks away. Otter Tail County was scheduled to host the event in 2020, however, the event was postponed due to the COVID-19 public health crisis. The mission remains the same, to put a spotlight on Min…

Sometimes I need a little push to get out on the trail and the North Country Trail Hike 100 is a very effective push for me. Every year since 2016 the North Country Trail Association has offered this informal challenge. You sign up online at northcountrytrail.org, keep track of the miles you…

Minnesota DNR fisheries biologists are wrapping up the final drafts of the lake survey reports and lake management plans for 10 lakes test-netting assessments were conducted last summer. Lake surveys (fish population assessments) are the foundation of the DNR’s lake management program.  They…

The title is not a lead into a joke or a reference to an obscure legal case, but a result of research into how hiking trails are developed. My hikes on the North Country Trail in Fergus Falls piqued my curiosity about trail-building techniques.

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Drought conditions across Minnesota have created the potential for an active and damaging spring wildfire season. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources urges woodland landowners and homeowners to help prevent wildfires by using burn-free options for spring brush and yard cleanup.

I must admit that March can be a bit of a trying time for this angler.  I love being on the ice during this time chasing crappies and bluegills, but sunnier, warm spring days also have me longing for the first spring “boat” trips of the year too.  Unfortunately, those trips are probably a fe…

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When anglers across Minnesota drop their lines on Saturday, May 15, Otter Tail County is committed to hosting the 2021 Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener in a reimagined way from the previous 70-plus years. By design, the event will be safely shaped to proceed within the guidelines of the S…

As we enter the last few weeks of winter, some anglers have already stowed their ice fishing gear and are preparing for open water.  That may be a mistake, particularly for those anglers who enjoy catching panfish like crappies and bluegills.  Right now, these fish are vacating some of the d…

Recently I traveled to Big Stone Lake to fish with winter fishing guide Tanner Arndt.  Tanner and his dad, Artie, also own and run Artie’s Fish House Rentals on Big Stone.  The Arndt’s specialize in, and pride themselves on, putting their customers on lots of Big Stone’s numerous and delicio…

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Recently I traveled to Big Stone Lake to fish with winter fishing guide Tanner Arndt.  Tanner and his dad, Artie, also own and run Artie’s Fish House Rentals on Big Stone.  The Arndt’s specialize in, and pride themselves on, putting their customers on lots of Big Stone’s numerous and delicio…

It’s been my good fortune to meet some amazing people since becoming involved with the North Country Trail community. My love of hiking is what drew me to the NCT and the social aspect is one of the unexpected benefits. Today I’d like to talk about a couple long-distance hikers that I’ve spe…

Early season ice fishing often calls for the use of jigging spoons to call in and catch aggressive fish.  As winter progresses, however, fish get more pressured and their metabolism often slows too.  For those reasons, the fish usually get less apt to bite as early winter becomes midseason. …

While walking down the aisles recently of the local bait shop, I couldn’t help but be astonished by all the ice rod models available!  This experience had me thinking back to my ice fishing trips with my Dad and brother as a kid and the ice rods we used. 

The recent plummet in temperature opens the risk for frostbite which can cause serious or permanent harm in less than 30 minutes to skin exposed to cold. Fingers, toes, nose, ears, cheeks and chin are the most commonly affected areas, but any time skin is exposed to cold temperatures or come…

In November of 2019 some of my North Dakota hiking buddies and I decided that it was time to tackle the road walk portion of the North Country Trail from Abercrombie, North Dakota to Fergus Falls, a distance of 39 miles to the little rest area north of the Humane Society of Otter Tail County…

What makes some hunting spots so special? One morning this fall when I was out duck hunting I began to think about all the times I had stood on the same lake point, watching a decoy set bobbing in the wind.

Bandit is my faithful dog/hiking partner, but when the winter winds started blowing, he signaled it was time to go home by hopping around on three paws trying to keep one paw warm at a time. Hiking in Minnesota’s winter can be a challenge. Some people keep up their hiking routine even in the…

The best ice fishing of my winter fishing career happened a few years back on a lake near my home in central Minnesota.  This small, shallow lake is a stocked walleye fishery that often produces good walleye fishing in spring and then again in fall.  The previous spring and fall on this lake…

Following the blue blazes along the North Country Trail (NCT) can lead you to some unexpected places. One of the most memorable destinations that I have found was the “Mighty Mac” — the Mackinac Bridge — that connects the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan. The catch is that the bridge i…

Ice fishing season appears to be just around the corner!  Are you ready?  Here are some things to consider when preparing for the coming hard water season.

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Snow is falling outside as I sit writing this in mid-October.  And, the weather forecast shows below-normal temperatures for the foreseeable future.  This sudden weather change means the open-water fishing season for 2020 may be over. With that in mind, now is a good time to reflect back on …

A special deer hunt will be held on Nov. 7-10, at Maplewood State Park to control the deer population and protect natural resources. The park will remain open to visitors, but the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources advises visitors to wear blaze orange or blaze pink if they plan to be…

After months of preparation and two days of staging vehicles, we set out on a Wednesday morning to start our Kek hike in glorious, cool, sunny weather. After hiking all summer in the heat, humidity, and bugs of central Minnesota, this was a very welcome relief. Our first day was the most amb…

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Hunters in the 213 and 273 area blocks are being asked this year to voluntarily submit samples of their deer for chronic wasting disease testing. One case of CWD was detected late in 2019 at a deer farm in Douglas County prompting the Department of Natural Resources to set up a surveillance …

Fall is a great time to be on the water!  The weather is often pleasant, the lakes usually aren’t crowded and the fish bite.  When chasing walleyes, fall anglers often head to the lake armed with a supply of minnows, jigs and live bait rigs and “go to work.” And, for good reason, as jigging …

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The Kekekabic Trail (Kek) is a 40-mile trail that goes between Snowbank Lake east of Ely to the Gunflint Trail northwest of Grand Marais. Most of it is within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) so it requires a permit for overnight hiking. I am not a backpacker so the Kek was n…