Column: Try spending time enjoying the outdoors this winter

Published 1:45pm Saturday, January 19, 2013

I have often mentioned there are times when I have the urge to head north to the cabin in the dead of winter just to spend a few days hanging out and ice fishing.

This past week, my grandson, Trevor, had been trying to get a couple of his friends to go up for an extended weekend of fishing. Trevor always talked about heading up there in the winter, and he finally decided to give it a try. The plans eventually fell through, and I could tell that he was a little disappointed. But he is young, and there will be plenty of opportunities ahead for him to make that happen.

Yes, I’ve often thought about spending time there, and I actually did so last April, when a friend and I went up for a few days to do some work on the cabin. While we were there we received about eight inches of new snow. It rained first and then turned to snow, which caused a power outage. It didn’t affect us as we had no electricity. However, it caused a lot of trees to fall under the weight of the ice and snow. So, we literally had to saw our way out, because trees were blocking the road.

I’ve been at the cabin in April a couple of different times, but never to do ice fishing. Last year, the ice was actually off most of the lakes by the time we went in April, so going a little earlier might be better if I want to do any ice fishing. This is still a dream of mine, and Trevor and I just might make that trip in March.

I would really enjoy sitting in the cabin on a moonlit winter evening watching the fire blazing away in the woodstove, while the wind is busy moving the fallen snow from place to place. This is what I’d call living my dream. But that, however, is a story to be continued at a later date.

If you are not all that excited about venturing out onto the ice this winter, there is an alternative that may turn out to be a very rewarding experience. Trout fishing in the southeastern part of the state is open now and might just be the fix that most open water fishermen are seeking. With that being said, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has issued the following news release: Southeast trout streams offer alternative to ice fishing.

If the thought of sitting around and staring through a hole in the ice doesn’t exactly jibe with the idea of fishing, take heart. There’s an alternative, even in the coldest part of the year.

Winter trout fishing opened on Jan. 1 and continues through March 31 on about 135 miles of trout water on 38 streams in southeastern Minnesota. Fed by warmer groundwater, many streams there remain relatively ice free all winter, and the trout living in these streams cooperate with anglers to provide excellent winter fishing opportunities more often than not, said DNR Lanesboro Area Fisheries Manager Steve Klotz.

While the trout are willing to bite, the weather can bite as well this time of the year, Klotz noted. The best days are often when the air temperature climbs into the ’20s.

“It’s more a function of keeping your equipment from freezing up, and not so much that the trout are just being tight-lipped,” he said. “Explore some water that you haven’t fished, and you might find a new favorite stream.”

The winter southeastern stream season is catch-and-release only. While DNR fisheries staff is proposing a season change that would open all southeastern trout streams to winter angling, only those streams specifically identified in the 2012 fishing regulations booklet will be open this year. Specific stream information also is available at www.mndnr.gov.

This winter’s trout season may find the DNR fisheries staff conducting an angler survey. Anglers may find a postcard questionnaire on their vehicle at the end of a day’s fishing, or they may encounter a clerk asking a few questions.

“The information we gather from anglers is important,” Klotz said. “It helps resource managers evaluate current management activities and consider future possibilities, such as opening trout angling year round.”

Until next time, go out and enjoy the many things that make winter a special time to be outdoors.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers because they are the reason that we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.

 

Dick Herfindahl’s column appears in the Tribune each Sunday.