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Member of the week: Friends of the Park

The Leech Lake Area Chamber of Commerce presents Friends of the Park as the Member of The Week! Each week a new business will be featured as a “thank you” for being a part of our membership. If you are interested in becoming a member of the Leech Lake Area Chamber of Commerce please give us a call at 218-547-1313 and we will be happy to give you some more information!

Friends of the park

 

Formally organized in October 2015, the Friends of the Walker City Park is committed to supporting the Walker Park Advisory Board by promoting, enhancing and maintaining community support for the park through activities, fundraising, and volunteer efforts.

DNR News Release: March 6 – Minnesota Fishing 2017

Minnesota Fishing – March 2017

 

Fishing dates to remember

Dec. 31-March 31Stream trout in lakes entirely within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area

Jan. 14-March 31Stream trout in lakes outside the BWCA

Jan. 1-April 14: Catch-and-release stream trout in southeast streams (Dodge, Goodhue, Fillmore, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Wabasha and Winona counties)

April 1-Nov. 30: Flathead catfish season

April 15-Oct. 1: Stream trout season in streams (except southeast Minnesota)

April 15-Sept. 14: Stream trout in southeast streams (Dodge, Goodhue, Fillmore, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Wabasha and Winona counties)

May 13: Minnesota fishing opener for walleye, sauger, northern pike

May 13-26: Smallmouth and largemouth bass catch-and-release season south and west of U.S. Highway 53 from Duluth to International Falls (except Pelican and Ash lakes in St. Louis County)

May 13-Feb. 25: Smallmouth and largemouth bass season north and east of U.S. Highway 53 from Duluth to International Falls and Pelican and Ash lakes in St. Louis County

May 13-Oct. 1: Lake trout summer season

May 13-Oct. 31: Stream trout in lakes

May 27-Feb. 25: Largemouth bass season south and west of U.S. Highway 53 from Duluth to International Falls (except Pelican and Ash lakes in St. Louis County)

May 27-Sept. 10: Smallmouth bass season south and west of U.S. Highway 53 from Duluth to International Falls (except Pelican and Ash lakes in St. Louis County)

June 3-Dec. 1: Muskellunge season

Get the 2017 fishing regulations

The 2017 Minnesota Fishing Regulations are online.

As always, in addition to learning the regulations overall, make sure to check for special fishing regulations that apply to individual waters where you’re fishing. For lakes, you can use LakeFinder or LakeFinder Mobile to search for special regulations.

Remember to buy your 2017 fishing license

Fishing licenses for 2017 now are available wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold, online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense and by telephone at 888-665-4236. All 2017 fishing licenses became effective March 1 and 2016 licenses are expired.

Customers who purchase online via a smartphone won’t receive a conventional paper license. Instead, they’ll receive a text message or email that serves as proof of a valid fish or game license to state conservation officers. A printed copy of the text or email also can serve as proof of a valid license.

Where can I fish right now?

The walleye season on inland lakes has closed, but fishing opportunities are out there all year.

So where can you fish right now? While not an exhaustive list, try heading to the border waters or rivers and streams that are ice-free. For starters, there’s the mighty Mississippi River.

On the Mississippi where it’s the Minnesota-Wisconsin border water, and Lake Pepin, you can catch and keep walleye, sauger, northern pike, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass all year. On the river in Ramsey, Washington, Hennepin and Dakota counties there is a continuous catch-and-release season for walleye, sauger, smallmouth bass and largemouth bass in the following stretches:

  • Minnesota River downstream from the Mendota Bridge
  • Minnehaha Creek downstream from Minnehaha Falls
  • Pool 2 of the Mississippi River between the Hastings and Ford dams, including all backwater lakes and connecting waters except Crosby, Pickerel, Upper, Little Pigs Eye and North Star Steel lakes.

Walleye fishing is also open all year on Minnesota-North Dakota border waters. On Minnesota-Canada border waters, walleye fishing is open until Friday, April 14.

In southeast Minnesota, catch-and-release trout fishing is open in streams in Houston, Fillmore, Mower, Dodge, Olmsted, Winona, Wabasha and Goodhue counties.

And what’s more –  especially if you know of new anglers or kids who want to try fishing – seasons for panfish and under-utilized fish are open all year. Check the 2017 Minnesota Fishing Regulations online for details.

Learn how we spend your license dollars

You may have heard that the DNR is seeking a hunting and fishing license fee increase in the 2017 legislative session.

The proposed $3 fishing license increase will not add staff or build general fisheries programs. Rather, it will continue to help sustain existing programs and area office operations, many of which already are reduced.

With a license fee increase, we will continue to maintain our world-class fisheries and habitats that keep Minnesota’s place as one of the nation’s top three inland fishing destinations.

Without a fee increase, various research and management activities will be reduced, delayed or ceased at 5,500 fishing lakes and 18,000 miles of fishable rivers and streams that are the foundation of the state’s $4.2 billion fishing economy.

More details can be found on the DNR website about how we put your license dollars to work. If you believe Minnesota offers recreation worth paying for, it is important that you speak up.

Member of the week: Leech Lake Tourism Bureau

The Leech Lake Area Chamber of Commerce presents Leech Lake Tourism Bureau as the Member of The Week! Each week a new business will be featured as a “thank you” for being a part of our membership. If you are interested in becoming a member of the Leech Lake Area Chamber of Commerce please give us a call at 218-547-1313 and we will be happy to give you some more information!

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Information on lodging facilities and things to do at legendary Leech Lake. The tradition of welcoming and pleasing summer guests goes back nearly a century. Visitors find scores of excellent lodging choices all around the lake. Whether planning an overnight or a long family stay, be assured with the help of the Leech Lake Area Tourism Bureau, you will find the perfect place. If your ideal is the rustic pleasure of a simpler time, you’ll find it here. If your preference is upscale, beaches and high-energy lake activity, you’ll find that, too. For those in search of quiet retreats that feel like home, numerous Bed & Breakfasts are also available. For short stays, area motels offer comfortable lodging. Outdoor enthusiasts can pitch their tents and rough it or roll an RV into one of the many campgrounds. With shopping, dining, golfing, horseback riding and casinos, Leech Lake truly offers something for everyone. 

How many checkpoints did you stop at this year?

Check Point MN 2016-17 is completed.  Walker on beautiful Leech Lake was honored to be one of the ten different locations for this year’s Check Point MN.

The checkpoints this year were:

Artist’ Point, Grand Marais

Old Central School, Grand Rapids

Mount Ski Gull, Nisswa

Otto the Otter, Fergus Falls

Prince Mural, Chanhassen

Silver Lake Park, Rochester

Alexander Ramsey Parks, Redwood Falls

Baudette Depot, Lake of the Woods

The Shops at West End, St. Louis Park

Walker Bay Lighthouse, Leech Lake

The stats have grown since last year.  This year there were over 3000 total check in compared to last year at 2642.  Registered users were over 5,000 with 871 new registered participants this year.

My husband and I started out strong this year.  This was going to be our year to get all the checkpoints.  Obviously, we decided to start with our hometown lighthouse.  We picked one of the coldest nights to go to the checkpoint with some friends and take a selfie.  (Selfie?  That is a whole other story)

We were so excited to get our first one on the site and started planning our weekends around the points.  Otto, the Otter was in Fergus Falls and he was our next stop. Our son lives there so this should be easy.  Once again, we ran through the Minnesota winter winds to take our sorta selfie in front of the otter.  The next weekend we headed to Nisswa to find Mount Ski Gull.  The day started out sunny and by the time we curved our way to the checkpoint the wind started blowing and the snow falling and once again we found ourselves trying to operate the phone and take a picture while the wind was working hard to blow us down the ski hill.

We then headed toward the cities to get a couple of points there, Prince Mural and the Shops at West End.  BUT of course, the weather dropped below zero, I mean WAY below zero.  I am sorry to admit that we chickened out and did not get these pictures.  Does this mean we are not real Minnesotans?

Meanwhile, our friends were traveling and sending us pictures of each and every check Point.  They actually made it to all 10 sports.  This is their second year to make all ten.  The year before he won a snowmobile doing the check points.  As the pictures were dinging my phone I had to admit they were much better at braving the weather and deserved to win.  We admitted defeat and declared them the best Checkpoint MN participants.

I am excited for Check Point MN 2017-18 and am determined that we are going to do better.  I am challenging you to pick up as many check points as possible next winter.  Let’s all start exploring our great state of Minnesota.

Explore MN does a great job putting together this event and I encourage you all to check out the pictures of everyone who made a stop in Walker to take their selfie by our checkpoint.

 

 

Member of the week: Cornerstone Church

The Leech Lake Area Chamber of Commerce presents Cornerstone Church  as the Member of The Week! Each week a new business will be featured as a “thank you” for being a part of our membership. If you are interested in becoming a member of the Leech Lake Area Chamber of Commerce please give us a call at 218-547-1313 and we will be happy to give you some more information!

Cornerstone church

 

You are welcome to Cornerstone Church.  We are a Non-Denominational Evangelical fellowship of Believers in Jesus Christ.  At Cornerstone you will find a welcoming, loving & safe place in which to experience God and grow together in our Christian faith.  You will find something for everyone at Cornerstone Church including Midweek Bible Study for adults; Young Marrieds Group; Young Mothers Study; CLIMB Bible School; Children’s Church and so much more.  Check our website www.cornerstonewalker.org for upcoming events.  Join us for Worship & Fellowship Sundays at 10 AM.  Nursery available.

Member of the week: Circle of Time

The Leech Lake Area Chamber of Commerce presents Circle of Time as the Member of The Week! Each week a new business will be featured as a “thank you” for being a part of our membership. If you are interested in becoming a member of the Leech Lake Area Chamber of Commerce please give us a call at 218-547-1313 and we will be happy to give you some more information!

Circle of time

 

Joel Randell from Edmund, OK sculpted 13 beautiful bronze statues of figures depicting 13 eras of Leech Lake history.  He called the monument the Circle of Time.  Today, the Circle of Time Committee is working on a cultural pavilion to be erected near the monument for all to use & enjoy.

Member of the week Paul Bunyan Broadcasting

The Leech Lake Area Chamber of Commerce presents Paul Bunyan Broadcasting as the Member of The Week! Each week a new business will be featured as a “thank you” for being a part of our membership. If you are interested in becoming a member of the Leech Lake Area Chamber of Commerce please give us a call at 218-547-1313 and we will be happy to give you some more information!

paul_babe_pb_broadcasting

 

For more than 70 years Paul Bunyan Broadcasting has been providing the Bemidji and surrounding areas with five stations covering a variety of music, sports and the most up-to-date regional information available. Located at 502 Beltrami Avenue in downtown Bemidji, Paul Bunyan Broadcasting is radio that works for you.

Why we love Eelpout: Guest Blogger: Mary Nordeen

Why we love eelpout

The February thaw brings a hint of spring to our minds in northern Minnesota.  Warm winter days on the Chippewa National Forest have people thinking about maple taps and planning their summer vacations.  Eagles sit near nest sites, raccoons are raiding birdfeeders and eelpout are spawning.

It is eelpout, actually, leading the charge into spring. These strange fish, deemed the ugliest in the lake, have one of the most interesting stories.

You need to learn about eelpout to really appreciate and fall in love with this fish.

First, recognize all the aliases this fish has.  Eelpout is just one name in a long list, along with burbot, lawyer, loche, ling, ling cod, and cusk.  Its Ojibwe name is Mizay. Some people use the word dogfish to describe it and others can find no words!  This local fish is lovingly called pout in Minnesota.

Pout are the only freshwater cod in North America and can be found in large lakes on the Forest, including Leech Lake, Cass and Winnie. They range from the Arctic Ocean south to the north central United States and thrive in cold clear water.

The eelpout is one of the few fish that spawns in the winter, reveling in the icy waters. This is no small event. Pout spawn in mass, sometimes in groups of dozens and even hundreds.  They do not create a nest and do not care for their young.  A female pout may lay from 300,000 to over 1 million eggs.  The hatchlings are some of the smallest freshwater fish larvae.  These tiny pout babies drift in the water until they gain the ability to swim.

In looks alone, the eelpout could be considered one of our most unusual fish.  Pout are perfectly camouflaged from predators with olive green to brown skin speckled with dark spots. They are both top predators and prey.  The barbell (whisker) just under their broad face is used to track the scent of prey. A pout’s body is slimy and has tiny embedded scales.  If you catch this fish, it may curl its eel-like body around your arm as you try to get it off the hook.  This unique fish may also make an “ugh” sound when pulled from the water.  A pout’s stomach is whitish yellow, and can become distended as the eelpout eats and eats and eats.  The record Minnesota eelpout was caught in December 2016 on Lake of the Woods.  It weighed 19 pounds, 3 ounces.

Eelpout are opportunistic piscivores meaning a majority of their diet is fish, but they will take advantage of any food source.  Pout have triangular jaws and rows of tiny teeth, all engineered to swallow prey whole.  Researchers have also found fish eggs, crustaceans, clams, wood chips, rocks, plastic, and other unrecognizable objects in the fish. A pout’s predatory nature may not be all bad.  Fishery managers have introduced eelpout into lakes that have stunted fish populations in order to restore a balance of fish species.

In the 1920’s, fishery biologists announced eelpout as the “fish of the future.”  Recipes were created for Barbequed Ling, Crispy Pout Puffs, Lakeland Cocktails and Poor Man’s Lobster, but still, the idea of pout as a gourmet food just didn’t hit.  Until the Walker Eelpout Festival.

Eelpout are known to almost anyone who lives in the Walker area, on the south side of the Chippewa National Forest.  The town celebrates the Annual Eelpout Festival each February, where showing affection for this less-than-fashionable fish becomes high-fashion on Leech Lake!

Pout Fishing Tips:  If you want to meet a pout in person, visit the northern lakes in winter.  During the spawn, they are in shallower water, but quickly return to the deeper pools.  Fish at a depth from 15-20 feet or drop to 30-40 feet below the ice. Try jigging with a minnow on a fluorescent spoon or lure at dark.  The eelpout are attracted to the vibrations.

 

Critter Information – Guest Blogger Mary Nordeen

The difference between….

Just the other day, someone asked me “What’s the difference between a snowshoe hare and a rabbit?”    I realized I was able to answer automatically because I get that type of question quite often.  What’s the difference between two similar animals?  So many fun little facts separating similar animals.    With that in mind, here’s a few quick facts about three commonly seen critters.

Hares vs Rabbits

We have three “bunnies” in Minnesota, the snowshoe hare, the cottontail rabbit and the white-tailed jackrabbit.  Did you know, despite its name, the jackrabbit is a hare!

Range:    The Chippewa National Forest is home to the snowshoe hare and cottontail rabbit. Snowshoe hares are found in the northern half of the state, cottontails live in the lower three-fourths of the state.  The white-tailed jackrabbit tends toward prairie habitat and is found more to the west of the Forest.

Winter White:  Both snowshoe hares and white-tailed jackrabbits turn white in the winter.  Cottontail rabbit fur remains brown year-round.

Rabbit feet and bunny ears:   Snowshoes hares have…snowshoes!   Big rear feet to stay on top of the snow.  Cottontail rabbits have smaller feet and are just a bit smaller overall.  Jackrabbits are noticeably bigger and have big ears.

Born to run:  Hares are precocial, meaning when they are born, they are fully furred, eyes open, ready to run.  Rabbits are born without fur, eyes closed and stay in the nest for three weeks.

Crows vs Ravens

We get so used to seeing miscellaneous black birds in the trees and along the highways that we don’t often stop to think about what bird we are looking at.  Crows and ravens are in the corvid family—some of the smartest birds in the world.  Get to know them.  They are so interesting!

Snowbirds:   Crows are summer residents in northern Minnesota and migrate south in the winter.  Ravens are year-round residents here.   Crows are found across the United States, including all of Minnesota.   Ravens are found only in north-central and north-eastern Minnesota, and across the western United States.  Both are found on the Chippewa National Forest.

Listen for the difference:  Crows have that “caw caw” classic call.  Ravens have a croak and rattle sound, loud and low.

Size:  Ravens are the size of a red-tailed hawk, much larger than a crow.  A raven’s beak is chunky looking, noticeably bigger than a crow’s beak.

Look at the tail!   Tail feathers on a crow are all the same size. When they fly, the tail feather opens into a fan shape.  Ravens have longer center tail feather, and have a distinct wedge-shape to their tail.

  

Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle:

The Chippewa National Forest is home to one of the largest breeding populations of bald eagles in the lower 48 United States.  Our staff and visitors see bald eagles every day, throughout the year.  Now and then, we have someone report a golden eagle sighting.  But, how can you tell the difference?  Do golden eagles live on the Forest?

Range:  Golden eagles have a range that stretches across North America, but is year-round mainly in the western states.   Your best chance to see a golden eagle in Minnesota is in the winter!  The MN DNR reports that over 60 birds overwinter in the bluffs of southeastern Minnesota.  Bald eagles in Minnesota show mainly as a summer breeding range in northern Minnesota and a winter breeding range in southern Minnesota.    Bald eagles are seen throughout the year on the Forest, but in much smaller numbers during winter months.

Size: Golden eagles are larger in body size than a bald eagle, but bald eagles have a bigger head.    When flying over, a bald eagles head and talk seem to be proportioned the same.  A golden eagle flying over you seems to have a longer tale and smaller head.

It’s all in the leg:  Golden eagles have feathers on their legs that go all the way to their toes.  Bald eagles have leg feathers that stop above the toes, exposing a yellow leg.

Golden eagles are considered rare sights in the eastern United States, but many people on the Forest will swear they’ve seen golden eagles.  Most likely, what they are seeing is the immature bald eagle.  Eagles do not gain their white head and tail feather until they are four years old.  Immatures are golden brown, and are as large (or larger!) than there parents by July of their first year.  Easily mistaken for goldens, young bald eagles are mottled brown and white under the wing as they fly overhead.   Juvenile golden eagles have white as well, but in more of a pattern on their shoulders and tail feathers.

 

Mice and Voles and Shrews and Moles

Finally, just for fun….a quick guide to small rodents that might be running around this winter.  Trust me, next time you see a rodent, you’ll find yourself looking at ears, nose and tails!

Mice:  Big ears, long tail, pointed nose

Voles:  Short ears, short tail, small eyes, rounded nose

Shrews:  Tiny, long nose, short tail, no ears, tiny little eyes

Moles:  Big bodied, star-nosed, small eyes, big claws to dig through snow and dirt

 

Enjoy your explorations out in the winter world!   Pay attention to when you start seeing the seasons change.  Note when the crows come back!  Start a phenology journal with all your sightings!

Member of the week: Community Church of Walker

The Leech Lake Area Chamber of Commerce presents Community Church of Walker – United Church of Christ as the Member of The Week! Each week a new business will be featured as a “thank you” for being a part of our membership. If you are interested in becoming a member of the Leech Lake Area Chamber of Commerce please give us a call at 218-547-1313 and we will be happy to give you some more information!

Community Church

 

The Community Church of Walker, United Church of Christ mission is:  to offer a welcoming church home to all, where friendships grow, spiritual needs are met, community concerns are addressed, and where “God is still Speaking”

Wherever you are on life’s journey, your voice is welcome here!