Dokken: Lake of the Woods produces another surprise ice fishing catch – Grand Forks Herald

Dokken: Lake of the Woods produces another surprise ice fishing catch – Grand Forks Herald

News of another surprise at Lake of the Woods arrived in my inbox Wednesday afternoon, when I opened the weekly update from Sportsman’s Oak Island Lodge in Minnesota’s Northwest Angle.

Brad Dukin

Brad Dukin

According to the lodge’s fishing report, an angler was targeting walleye with 6-pound test line on Jan. 13 at one of the resort’s rental houses when a “tug pulled on his fishing line.”

That’s when things got interesting.

The report noted that “ideas began to accelerate immediately.” “Is it a walleye? A pike? A sturgeon? After an hour’s fight and twice twisting his reel into a knot, it (the big fish) climbed into the hole.

Surprisingly, the catch was 48 inches in size.

The muskie, released after a quick photo at the fish house, is the second released this winter through the ice at Lake of the Woods. (This does not mean that there were not other cases that were not reported.) Over New Year’s weekend, Leah Saffert, 10, of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, pulled in a 50-inch muskie while fishing up north. Pike lives in the Zipple Bay area on the south shore of Lake of the Woods with her father, Jamie, and brother, Scott.

The giant fish tipped the scales at 34 pounds.

A few days later, an angler caught a lake trout — another unusual catch for the south shore of Lake of the Woods — also in the Sipple Bay area.

Landing a muskie — or even a lake trout, for that matter — in the Northwest Angle isn’t quite as unusual as catching either species along the south shore of Lake of the Woods, but it’s still noteworthy. Muskies are a popular target for many anglers fishing the Northwest Angle and Ontario side of the Big Lake in open water, but catching one through the ice is somewhat uncommon.

It just goes to show – you never know.

In an effort to learn more about the spread of muskie trees along the South Shore, I reached out to Brett Nelson, a large lakes specialist with the Department of Natural Resources in Baudette, Minnesota. We weren’t able to connect in time for my story about the big muskie in Travelt, but Nelson got back to me late last week with some useful information about the muskie on the South Shore and why the toothy predators are more abundant on the Ontario side of the coast. lake.

“In terms of our sampling, we typically see one every few years in the fall gillnet survey,” Nelson said in an email. “As for location, it tends to vary where they appear.”

It’s not always north of Garden Island, he said, that long, narrow island at the southern end of the northwest corner.

Nelson says the DNR did not sample any muskie during its spring northern pike assessments along the South Shore, but the survey is done right when the ice is out and it may be too early to effectively sample them.

Nelson says it’s very likely that the habitat is “more diverse and apparently more suitable” for muskies in the northwest corner and on the Ontario side of the lake than it is in Big Traverse Bay, the open expanse that includes the bulk of the United States. waters.

“Anecdotally, I think the South Shore muskie are more common than they appear on the surface,” Nelson said. “There is clearly a much higher target effort from anglers in the northwest corner, and this plays a role in that as well. Furthermore, we sometimes hear reports of anglers catching these fish further south, but many of these catches/observations go unreported ( Therefore it is likely to be underrepresented).

Regardless, such unique catches are sure to make for interesting fish stories when they happen.

DL Fishing Tournament Decision

Organizers of the 40th Annual Devils Lake Volunteer Fire Department Ice Fishing Tournament will decide Saturday — Jan. 20 — whether the ice is safe enough to hold the fishing portion of the popular winter event.

This year’s tournament is scheduled to take place from 1 to 3:30 p.m., Saturday, January 27, on Six Mile Bay in Devils Lake. But with a late freeze and unseasonably warm weather until the recent cold snap, organizers say they want to make sure the ice is thick enough to accommodate the thousands of anglers who normally gather to try their luck for a few hours of fishing.

“Obviously, as a fire department, we’re here for safety,” said Corey Meyer, assistant fire chief and one of four co-chairs of the tournament committee. “We are not going to put anyone at risk, but still, we have also checked the conditions and things look good.”

This decision will be made on Saturday.

Tournament organizers canceled the fishing portion of the popular event in 2021 due to murky icy conditions caused by unseasonably warm weather.

If the fishing portion of the event is canceled, all other activities will continue as scheduled starting Thursday evening, Jan. 25, at the Devils Lake Memorial Building, and fishing prizes, which include a 2024 Chevy Colorado, will be awarded during a drawing that will begin at 7pm on Saturday 27 January.

The tournament and raffle are the fire department’s primary fundraiser, and all 24,000 of the $25 tickets are long gone, Meyer said. This year’s tournament includes prizes worth more than $325,000, including the grand prize in the drawing of a 2024 Ford F-150 pickup.

Brad Dukin

Brad Duquesne joined the Herald in November 1985 as copy editor of Agweek magazine and has been outside editor of the Grand Forks Herald since 1998.

In addition to his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwestern Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage of these topics.

You can reach him at, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on X (formerly Twitter) at @gfhoutdoor.

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