Saturday, December 1, 2012
'TIS THE SEASON
from WATERWORKS, a outdoor column by Gordon Prickett for the 12/5/2012 Aitkin Independent Age TIS THE SEASON It’s the season to be “careful.” We are currently “making ice” on our lakes, ponds, and rivers. The lake we live on had a thin layer of ice weeks ago, only to break up with wind and warming temperatures. At this writing ice is on the lake again since five days ago. Another warmup is on the way. On a shallow bay the first ice fisherman has ventured out with his auger and bucket to catch the early crappies. The main lake has a couple of cracks reaching all across the surface and looks fragile. The only way I can measure the ice thickness is to walk out on it with a chisel and make a hole. At this time of year we read the news accounts of the first trucks sinking through thin ice. I have memories as a young camper walking across the St. Croix River on ice floes. Now I’m trying to convince people that despite the information about safety on ice - so many inches to walk on it, to drive an ATV or a pickup - there is no such thing as “absolutely safe ice.” A FIELD GUIDE FOR FISH On an early shopping trip for the holidays I came across a great gift idea for family members who come from afar in the summertime, and who love to fish. But first I had to dip into this handy little guide - for the tackle box and for the cabin - recently written by a staff biologist from the University of Minnesota. It has waterproof pages, and the author is Dave Bosanko. I discovered that I had a lot to learn about the 75 species of fish in this field guide, “Fish of Minnesota.” The photographs and descriptions help to clearly identify each species, and the state record fish are listed. The largest Walleye at 17 lbs., 8 oz., was caught in 1979 in the Seagull River. The largest Smallmouth Bass, 8 lbs., was caught in West Battle Lake in 1948. Our family vacationed on West Battle in the 1940s, but our best bass were just a fraction of that size. From minnows to muskies, this is a good read.