On Lake Vermilion, it's not too late, or cold, to fish

By Staff Writer Doug Smith

Published: November 5, 2006
Edition: METRO
Section: SPORTS
Page#: 18C

It's huntin' season.
But don't tell that to diehard muskie anglers, such as Ed Tausk, who have been braving bone-chilling weather and icy waters to catch monster muskies on Lake Vermilion recently.
Tausk, co-owner of Vermilion Dam Lodge, and friends have caught five 50-inch muskies over the past two weeks on the west end of the big lake, including a 55-inch whopper with a 27-inch girth that weighed an estimated 50 pounds.
"It's late fall, and most guys don't want to be out there, but I think the fall is the only time you really have a shot at these open-water fish,'' Tausk said. "In the fall, these fish are bulked up - real tankers.''
There have been five 55-inch muskies caught on the lake this year, he said.
Tausk and friends have been catching - and releasing - the big fish by trolling 14-inch muskie lures, simulating the tullibees and ciscoes that the muskies are chasing.
"We went out the other day and caught a 47-inch muskie, a 42-inch muskie, a 46-inch northern and a 41-inch northern - all on the same day,'' Tausk said.
A neighbor landed a 54-inch muskie with a 28-inch girth - a fish that could have challenged the 54-pound state record muskie. The angler released the fish.
Between Lake Mille Lacs and Vermilion, "someone will break the state record,'' Tausk predicted. "It's going to happen.''
The muskie action this fall is about over on Vermilion. Tausk said the lake could freeze soon.
Ripley deer harvest
Bow hunters bagged a record 514 deer this fall at Camp Ripley Military Reservation near Little Falls. The previous record was 484 deer killed in 2004.
Archers harvested 243 deer last weekend and 271 the previous weekend. At least 16 bucks weighing at least 200 pounds were taken.
About 4,300 hunters participated, and hunter success was slightly more than 11 percent, similar to last year. The largest buck taken last weekend weighed 220 pounds and was killed by James Schuett of Pillager. The largest buck registered during both hunts weighed 244 pounds.
Duck season fading
The cold front that blew through the state last week pushed ducks into - and out of - the state. Wetlands and some lakes froze in many areas, especially the north, ending hunting on some waters and making access difficult on others. Hunting pressure was low in many areas. The warmer weather this weekend could reopen some waters, but the question is whether there still will be ducks around.
Turning in poachers
Now you can report poachers via the Internet. The DNR and Turn in Poachers (TIP) has launched a new online service to report "non-time sensitive" natural resources violations that don't require an immediate response from an officer. See the DNR's website at www.dnr.state.mn.us for information or to report a violation. For cases that require more immediate attention, call the 24-hour TIP hotline at 1-800-652-9093.
So far, no avian flu
Testing for avian flu continues on up to 100,000 wild birds around the nation. About 2,000 waterfowl in Minnesota were sampled this fall by state and federal officials, and none of those tested positive for the Asian avian flu strain, officials said last week. Some hunter-harvested waterfowl were included in the samples. The disease, which has killed birds and humans elsewhere in the world, hasn't been found in North America. But there is concern that migrating waterfowl could help spread it.
No online licenses
No, you still can't buy a hunting or fishing license online from the DNR. But that convenience is coming, likely yet this fall. Customers been unable to buy licenses online at the agency's website since spring after officials determined more privacy safeguards were needed. Officials wanted to ensure that protected information, such as addresses, couldn't be obtained by those using the site. Officials had hoped to have a revised system operating by September, but reworking and making it user-friendly has proven difficult. Meanwhile, customers still can purchase licenses via phone by calling 1-888-665-4236.
New wildlife plate
Minnesota motorists who support natural resource conservation soon will have another license plate option. A panel of judges has chosen six potential Critical Habitat license plate designs from more than 70 entries. The final design will be selected later this month, and the new plate will go on sale in early 2007. You can see the plates, and comment on them, at www.dnr.state.mn.us.
Did you know?
- The Minnesota Waterfowl Association has moved to a new office at 901 First Street N. in downtown Hopkins. The group's new phone number is 952-767-0320.
- A hunter told conservation officer Joyce Kuske of Little Falls that his gun case string had broken and that he had ripped a strip off his underwear to tie the case closed so he wouldn't have an illegally cased firearm.
- A confused - or maybe hungry - Canada goose near Thief River Falls continually tried to walk into a local restaurant.
"The bird was fixated on something inside and was quite persistent about getting in,'' reported conservation officer Jeremy Woinarowicz.
- Steve Merchant, a 20-year DNR veteran and current forest wildlife program leader, has been named wildlife program manager for the agency.

- The state's corn harvest is nearly complete, which is good news for deer and pheasant hunters.