The fish are hungry and so are the squirrels

Published 9:00 am Sunday, January 29, 2017

In the past week, there were more and more fish houses appearing on Fountain Lake and, for the most part, I have heard nothing but good reports. Most of the area’s lakes have been producing and this is a good thing. The bad news is that the warmer weather created standing water, making some parts of the lake hard to access by vehicle and to top it off, recent snowfalls have complicated things even further.

One reminder — the ice is never completely safe. This was demonstrated when someone had a house on the channel by the Front Street bridge and they kept moving it, trying to stay ahead of the game, as the area of open water continued to spread. The house was finally removed from the ice and it wasn’t a day later that the spot it had been sitting on was now open water. Whenever there is moving water beneath the ice there is always a degree of uncertainty, especially when the weather warms up and the ice on the channel erodes from beneath. This is a time when it can become very dangerous. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that the channel was like a little village — there were houses everywhere. Fountain Lake now seems to be the lake of choice and it has been giving up some decent panfish and perch on wax worms and minnows have been producing a few walleye, bass and pike. I have heard from some fishermen the best fishing has been during daylight hours.

For many years, my wife has been at odds with the squirrels of the neighborhood. It all started when she was taking care of the old home of her folks in Twin Lakes where some red squirrels had decided to stay the winter in the attic. After a few years of patching holes in the roof and live trapping the pesky little bushy-tailed rodents, the house has finally become critter free.

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Meanwhile, back at the ranch, our yard has been blessed with an abundance of gray squirrels which, for a while, seemed to like living in my shed and garage. I took action and squirrel-proofed the shed, but my garage can never be critter-free, so peaceful co-existence is the best I can hope for. A few weeks ago, one such bushy-tailed rodent was attacking my new bird feeder. I eventually gave in and decided to take it down. This was when something eerie took ahold of my senses and, in a moment of weakness, I purchased some ears of corn to feed those pesky critters. Let’s face it — I actually enjoy watching those little bushy-tailed rodents as they chase each other around the trees in our yard and stay away from any man-made structure.

My wife has not been informed of what she would refer to as my lack of common sense. I suppose she will eventually ask what that ear of corn is doing in the backyard. I am sure I am playing with fire by feeding them, because, in this case, I could get burned from both ends. One saving grace is they aren’t the dreaded red species, which may eventually work in my favor.

It may seem like a long way off, but the DNR has initiated an interesting program that will introduce folks to the art of fly fishing. By the way, it reads it would be wise to get signed up early if you are interested.

Register for beginner fly fishing weekend for youth-adult pairs

Developing a rhythm of smooth casts over a peaceful stream and catching fish may be goals for the beginner fly angler, but an experienced instructor can help turn initial flailing into finesse.

Registration is open for an event that teaches the basics of fly fishing to pairs of youths and adults, from evening on June 2-4 near Lanesboro.

“The youth and adults are both beginners, so they can struggle and laugh and grow together,” said Deb Groebner, a regional specialist with MinnAqua, an educational program of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Fly fishing lets you catch a variety of fish species and after this class the participants will be ready to fish on their own in lakes, ponds and streams.”

To participate, youth must be 11 to 17 years old as of June 2, and each youth-adult pair must have less than 10 hours of fly-fishing experience between them.

The registration fee is $130 per pair and includes meals, lodging, guiding services, equipment and additional materials. Sponsorships to offset registration fees may be available from angling and conservation organizations. This event is limited to 20 youth-adult pairs.

Apply online. For more information, contact Groebner at 507-359-6049 or

Until next time, always use caution when venturing out on the ice and take the time to enjoy spending some time in the outdoors.

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