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On the south end...  Ice fishing is in full swing, fish are being caught and most anglers are happy.  As previous reports state, lots of small fish to work through to find keepers along with slot fish (walleyes 19.5 - 28.0 inches that must be released) and that occasional trophy over 28 inches.  Most ice fishing is taking place in 25 - 32 feet of water. 

A combination of a jigging line and a deadstick.  Jigging spoons tipped with a minnow head the most common for the jigging line and a plain colored hook, glow, orange or pink with a live minnow 3 - 6" off the bottom has been effective.  Jumbo perch, eelpout, pike, tullibees, and once in a while a crappie or sturgeon in the mix.

With stained water, most walleye / sauger activity during daylight hours.  Anglers in sleeper houses report occasional walleyes and certainly eelpout when the sun is down.

Using electronics to spot suspended fish and to work each individual fish is very helpful.

On the Rainy River...  Walleye fishing is best in the mornings and evenings.  Gold, glow or gold combined with glow colors working well.  A jig and minnow close to the bottom has been effective.

Sturgeon anglers are still pulling in dinosaurs (sturgeon).  Patience is key.

The snowmobile trail is groomed and staked from Baudette to Wheeler's Point up to the Angle.

Up at the NW Angle...  Some great walleye fishing up at the Angle this week.  Resorts have fish houses in a variety of areas, everything from shallow structure taking advantage of the morning / evening bite to more daytime spots in deeper water both over structure and mud.

Gold, pink and bright glow green have been producing nice fish. Jigging close to the bottom with a second line using a live minnow working well.

Travel to the Angle.  The NW Angle Guest Ice Road is open.  Drive on the 37 mile ice road to the Angle without crossing the border.  The snowmobile trails, LOW Passenger Service and Lake Country Air are also great ways to travel to the Angle and stay in MN.

Driving via land to and from the Angle through Canada is open.  Must be vaccinated and have a negative PCR COVID Test less than 72 hours from when the test was taken. Rapid tests are available in Baudette and in Warroad.  Once at the Angle, no additional COVID testing is necessary for traveling back south from the Angle through Canada.

A complete list of lodging and ice fishing packages around LOW, the NW Angle, Baudette and the Rainy River at www.LakeoftheWoodsMN.com/Lodging


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Fewer hunters, anglers means less money for outdoor programs


by Associated Press



DULUTH, Minn. — Last month, Bob Walker walked into a stretch of woods southeast of Rochester, Minnesota, with his son, hoping this year would be his final deer hunt.

He’s 80, and he was ready to retire from hunting – but not until he shot one last deer.

“I thought, ‘I’m going to stick with it until I get one and go out on a positive note,'” Walker said.

Walker’s healthy – he walks several miles each day. But he said it’s getting harder for him to walk in the woods. He tripped and fell when he set up his hunting blind this year.

The past two years he didn’t see any deer he wanted to shoot. But this fall, one walked past his blind. He shot, and the deer fell.

“We kind of hooted and hollered a little bit and hugged each other,” Walker recalled. “And that was a really good day for me.”

Walker has hunted for more than 60 years, first with his dad and uncle, then his brother, then his son.

He shot his first deer when he was 14 – in the same patch of woods along the Root River where he killed his final deer.

Now that he’s ready to put away his hunting rifle, Walker said he’d like to pass on his equipment to his four grandsons and teach them to hunt.

“But the two older ones, they have no interest in hunting anything at all,” he said, adding that the two younger boys could still change their minds.

What’s happening within the Walker family exemplifies an issue the DNR faces across Minnesota: As more and more anglers and hunters stop fishing and hunting, there are fewer people replacing them, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.

That’s a big issue because for decades the state has relied on license and registration fees and taxes on equipment to fund a significant portion of its natural resource conservation and management.

So the DNR is asking for help. It wants Minnesotans to weigh in on how best to fund outdoor recreation and conservation.

“The time is really right. We haven’t seen . foundational investments in Minnesota’s conservation and outdoor recreation systems in a generation or more,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen.

Much of the state’s outdoors infrastructure, from state park facilities to fish hatcheries, was built in the 1950s and ’60s, Strommen said. Some of it dates back to the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression.

“So it’s really time, I think, for us to think about how we revitalize that system, how we can invest in that system,” said Strommen, “so that it serves not only the users today, but users in the future.”

Strommen said that work is especially important now because people have turned to the outdoors in unprecedented numbers during the pandemic for outdoor recreation and mental health.

One option, said Craig Engwall, executive director with the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, is to generate revenue from some of the newer ways people are engaging in the outdoors, like mountain-biking, climbing or bird-watching.

“There’s an excise tax on your fishing rod. There’s an excise tax on a shotgun, on all those things that hunters and anglers do as part of their passion,” said Engwall. “It’s funding the management of the resource. And there are a lot of activities that are growing, and are great, that don’t have that same element of a tax on them.”

Texas voters elected to do something similar. They approved a measure two years ago that allocates proceeds from the state sales tax on sporting goods to fund state parks and wildlife.

The challenge is to make sure that raising fees doesn’t discourage people from using the outdoors.

“If you charge too much, or you charge in the wrong place, you may create a financial barrier to some folks,” Strommen said.

Another option, which would require legislative approval, is to increase the amount of funding the DNR receives from the state’s general fund.

While the agency’s overall budget has increased substantially in recent years, that’s largely been driven by funds that don’t cover the DNR’s core budget.

The DNR’s current general fund budget allocation of about $104 million is significantly less than what the agency received in 2000, when general fund appropriations peaked at nearly $126 million.

Meanwhile, the agency is facing several critical natural resource issues from invasive species to climate change to chronic wasting disease.

Dave Zentner, former national president of the conservation group the Izaak Walton League, said he supports more funding for the DNR.

Zentner said the process to determine that new funding model also needs to address critical questions.

“What are the outcomes going to be for the citizens and the resources of Minnesota? What are we going to get for investing more in the agency?” he asked.

Zentner is part of a small group advising the DNR on its effort. Lynnea Atlas-Ingebretson, who recently served on the state’s outdoor recreation task force, is also advising the agency. She said a new funding model needs to serve all Minnesotans.

“The population in our state, of growing communities, is coming from Black, Indigenous, other communities of color,” she said.

“So if we think that we’re going to have a system that will be successful, we have to make sure that what we’re doing is inclusive of these populations and their needs,” said Atlas-Ingebretson.

To that end, the DNR wants the public’s help in identifying a vision for outdoor recreation and conservation in Minnesota. In the second half of 2022, the agency said it will propose a way to fund that vision going forward.


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