Published January 24, 2010, 12:00 AM

Field reports: North Shore wild steelhead catch more than doubles

Anglers on Minnesota’s North Shore caught an estimated 4,974 unclipped (“wild”) steelhead last spring, according to the 2009 Rainbow Trout Management Summary published this past week by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune

Anglers on Minnesota’s North Shore caught an estimated 4,974 unclipped (“wild”) steelhead last spring, according to the 2009 Rainbow Trout Management Summary published this past week by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

That total is more than twice the average of wild steelhead caught from 1995 to 2008.

The Rainbow Trout Summary, available online at www.mndnr.gov, contains lots of information about wild steelhead, stocked steelhead and stocked Kamloops rainbow trout.

The catch per angler hour for unclipped steelhead was 0.115, which means it took the average steelheader 8.7 hours to catch a steelhead. The 2009 catch rate is much better than the 1992-2008 average of about 14 hours per steelhead caught.

This is the fourth year in a row that the steelhead catch rate has been greater than 0.100, said Don Schreiner, DNR Lake Superior Area fisheries supervisor at French River. Currently, anglers must immediately release all unclipped steelhead they catch. Schreiner said the DNR will soon meet with the citizen Rainbow Trout Advisory Group to discuss the no-kill regulation and possibly consider allowing some harvest of unclipped steelhead.

Meanwhile, the slump in catch of stocked Kamloops rainbow trout 16 inches and longer continued for a third straight year. The estimated catch of those Kamloops rainbows was 2,773 on the North Shore, just below the 1995-2008 average of 2,869.

But returns of Kamloops rainbows to the French River, where the DNR traps them, were 411 last year, down from the long-term average of 1,001.

With the recent news that about 75 percent of Kamloops will soon be raised at the Spire Valley hatchery near Remer rather than at the French River Hatchery, many anglers fear that fewer of the fish will survive to be caught.

Other topics in the 2009 Rainbow Trout Summary included beaver dam removal on tributary streams of Lake Superior, habitat work on the Onion River and a rainbow trout research project.

One way to find the report online is to go to www.mndnr.gov, do a search for “North Shore fishing report,” then click on “Fisheries Management.”

Or use this link: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/areas/fisheries/lakesuperior/management.html

Larsen knocks off South Pole, looks north

Grand Marais adventurer Eric Larsen and two companions reached the South Pole on Jan. 2, completing the first leg of Larsen’s attempt to reach the South Pole, North Pole and top of Mount Everest in one year.

Larsen and his team were on the ice in Antarctica for 47 days before reaching the pole.

Next on his list is the North Pole, which he will attempt in March and April. He’ll leave for his Mount Everest climb in September.

On his way back from the Antarctic, Larsen updated his blog from a layover in Punta Arenas, Chile. Here’s an excerpt from that blog:

“Despite our relaxed demeanors, eating with knives and forks, changing our underwear, it was a little bittersweet to be finished. Our journey to the pole was so physically, mentally and emotionally intense that to be instantly removed from that situation shocks the system. I am still reeling trying to figure it all out. …

“Arleigh Jorgenson [of Grand Marais], my old dog mushing boss, used to say, ‘Moving slow and enjoying moving slow’ after returning from a long time on the trail. I have taken his remark to heart as much as possible. Lingering after meals, enjoying using a glass, sleeping in a bed. My body needs this extra time to recover after such a long exertion. Sleep and sitting are priorities for the next day or so. Life in Punta unfortunately doesn’t seem to be on level with my snow-weary body. I have been having a hard time crossing the road. Cars move faster than skiers. The number of close calls have been unnervingly numerous.”

Winter severity? Not so bad

Looks as if it’s been a fairly easy winter, judging by Minnesota’s Winter Severity Index readings.

The latest readings were posted Thursday by the Department of Natural Resources, and most of them are far below those of last winter.

The main difference between this winter and last is that snow cover is much less across most of Northeastern Minnesota. Under Minnesota’s Winter Severity Index, one point is recorded for each day the temperature falls below zero, and another point is recorded if the snow depth is 15 inches or greater.

Here are some sample readings from around the region for the week of Jan. 17. This year’s readings are first, followed by last winter’s:

Cloquet — 40 this year, 51 last year

Brimson — 24, 64

Grand Rapids — 19, 50

International Falls — 35, 67

Snowbank Lake (Ely) — 28, 74

Poplar Lake (Gunflint Trail) — 29, 73

Tower — 29, 72

Two Harbors — 18, 81

New muskie lakes proposed

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has proposed designating five new waters in the state for muskie stocking. Here are the lakes:

Roosevelt Lake, Cass and Crow Wing counties

Upper and Lower South Long Lake (two separate lakes), Crow Wing County

Sauk River Chain (several interconnected lakes), Stearns County

Lake Tetonka, LeSueur County

Minnesota now has 95 waters managed for pure-strain muskies and 21 lakes in the Twin Cities metro area managed for hybrid muskies. The DNR will hold public input meetings to get feedback on the proposed additional muskie stocking, said Jason Moeckel, DNR fisheries operations manager.

UNS ice Fishing Contest coming Jan. 31

The 57th annual United Northern Sportsmen’s Club Ice Fishing Contest will be held from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Jan. 31 on Island Lake north of Duluth. Gate prize drawing is $3,000. No need to be present to win. First place for largest fish is $1,000. Tickets available from any UNS member, or call (218) 590-7076 or (218) 722-2711.

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