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SUPERIOR, Wis.—Wisconsin's 2018 inland fishing season opens Saturday, May 5, following a cold and snowy April. Many lakes in northern Wisconsin remain ice-covered. "Most people don't think there will be anything going on unless we get some good rain and a lot of sun," said Steve Dinda of the Bait Box in Superior. "All the ice — it's just amazing. They'll have to wait, I guess. The next-best thing will be the St. Louis River (opening May 12)." Waters in the southern two-thirds of Wisconsin are open, said Wisconsin DNR fisheries Fisheries Director Justine Hasz.
I visited my friend Jeff Rennicke's writing studio in Bayfield years ago. It was a simple room, bare of most distractions, but on the wall above his computer was a piece of paper with four words on it. "Tell me a story." It was there as a reminder of his deal with his readers each time he sat down to write — simply to tell a story.
ON WISCONSIN'S BRULE RIVER — Bruce Koepke slipped his hand under the young brown trout and quickly removed his pink yarn fly from its lip. It was nearly midday on Saturday, March 31, opening day of the early trout season on Wisconsin's Brule River. Koepke returned the fish to the water. The Brule opener is a hallowed tradition for many steelhead anglers, and Koepke, of Duluth, usually rises early and heads for the river. But the snowstorm that had swept through parts of the Northland overnight made him reconsider.
DULUTH — St. Louis River muskie anglers learned something fascinating this past week about the fish they chase all summer: Not all of them stay in the river. Of 60 muskies that have been fitted with hydro-acoustic "tags" by researchers, nearly 40 percent have ventured into Lake Superior, and 25 percent have remained there for more than a month. One of them swam all the way to Chequamegon Bay near Washburn and another to Bark Bay of Lake Superior near Cornucopia.
On the way to work last week, two days after the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., I listened to a newscast in which a sobbing father lamented the loss of his 14-year-old daughter. It was deeply emotional and heart-rending. It brought the horror of the tragedy to a personal level. It is one thing to talk in an abstract sense about such an event in terms of death toll and shooter profile and what went wrong. It's quite another to drive along imagining if that had happened to your own daughter or son.
CHERRY, Minn. — Ten-year-old Joey Smith, a fifth-grader at Cherry School, clutched the northern pike in two gloved hands. The wide-eyed fish, still wiggling, glistened in the sunshine and zero-degree air. Joey had just emerged from a heated fishing shelter on Long Lake near Cherry. He and nearly 90 other fourth- and fifth-graders from the school were taking part in an annual fishing and outdoors day on the lake. Nobody had to teach Joey how to tell a fishing story. "The line was going straight down," he said. "I reeled it in. It felt very heavy."
DULUTH, Minn.—Beth Holst had hunted on the ground for the first two days of last fall's Minnesota firearms deer season, but she hadn't seen a deer. She decided she'd hunt from an elevated stand on the third day. On that November morning, the temperatures were in the single digits, she said. "We had had maybe a 2-inch snowfall," said Duluth's Holst, 64. "I was going up the rungs and just transitioning from the last rung to the stand."
DULUTH, Minn. — Kandi Geary was just getting ready to leave Kohl's department store in Duluth. A woman and her young daughter were just entering the store. Duluth's Geary, 60, described what happened next. "I was at the bench inside the store," Geary said. "I was putting my hat and mittens on to go outside." This occurred just before Christmas. Geary recently shared her story in a phone interview. Geary said the woman entering the store with her daughter mentioned in passing, "I love your hat." That didn't surprise Geary, she said.
A 12-mile segment of the Norpine Trail System on the North Shore will be open to fat-bikers as well as cross-country skiers this winter. The designated ski trail, groomed for both classic and skate skiing, will be open to fat bikes on a trial basis this winter, according to Norpine Trail Association officials. The out-and-back trail segment open to bikers is from the Ski Hill Road at Lutsen to near Cascade Lodge. Fat-bikers will be permitted to ride on the wider portion of the trails groomed for skate-skiing under appropriate conditions.
The snowies have come again. Snowy owls, denizens of the high Arctic with more than 4-foot wingspans, are showing up in large numbers across Minnesota and other Great Lakes states this winter. Many also have been seen along the New England coast. Such an unpredictable invasion is called an "irruption" by birdwatchers. As of Wednesday, Dec. 13, an estimated 173 snowy owls had been observed in 57 of Wisconsin's 72 counties, said Ryan Brady, a conservation biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in Ashland.