Out and About with Bob

Bob Lamb

Pelicans are returning to the Coulee Region.
"Junior" and I watched a dozen or more sail over our heads on Tuesday when checking out the spud poles at Ol' Tom's boathouse on French Island.
"I wonder where are they going?" asked Junior.
"Probably to Catgut Slough," I replied. "That's where I got photos of them last year."
There were more than pelicans congregating near the south end of Catgut Slough when I drove past later.
Anglers, from shore and boats, were crowding around the culvert on the north side of Clinton Street. Perch were the target, although I saw one small northern pike boated. A couple of small perch were also caught and kept.
"How they bitiin'?" I asked one shore angler as I walked past.
"Not much at all. And those you do get are running small," he said, hoisting an almost empty net.
Many veteran fishermen believe the perch spawning run is just about completed. I agree. Nonetheless, anglers keep trying.Anglers were lining the shoreline along the French Island beach, also hoping to bring in perch and any other game fish willing to take their baits. Action was also slow there earlier this week.
Walleye and sauger action is improving below locks and dams up and down on the Mississippi River.
Meanwhile, deer and turkeys remain active near our condo in the valley. It won't be long before does will be kicking out last year's offspring as she prepares for new fawns in May and early June.
Tom turkeys are gobbling on the roost just before dawn, but then turn silent during morning hours. A large, long-bearded gobbler struts his stuff in silence while his harem of hens feed in the huge field bordering our condo.
Across the Mississippi River, Minnesota DNR conservation officer Tyler Ramaker, stationed in La Crescent, spent time checking angling activity below dams. Walleye and perch activity seem to be picking up. An angler was found to have an over-limit of walleyes. New size and possession limits are now in effect for both Minnesota and Wisconsin waters.
With increasing flows, large trees were seen floating down the channel. Anglers should be cautious of submerged and surface debris.Mitch Boyum, a Minnesota DNR conservation officer in Rushford, reports working a busy week on the Mississippi River. Fishing was fair to good and most folks caught some fish. Compliance was high. Violations encountered were no license in possession and an over-limit of walleyes.
Boyum received a phone call from a concerned farmer about one of his cows. He had found the cow dead with various parts missing. Upon further investigation, it was determined the cow was shot from the road and someone stole the prime cuts of meat. Anyone with information should call the Mower County Sheriff?s Office. Minnesota DNR conservation officer Tom Hemker, in Winona, reports the river is high, but people have found areas to catch walleyes, northern pike and perch. Hemker checked a boat with three people and three limits of walleyes. Shortly after the check, he observed one of the anglers throwing a walleye from his boat to another boat. Hemker explained the party fishing rule to the anglers.
There also was a lot of catch-and-release trout fishing in the area.
Until we meet, have a great day outdoors.

Jerry Davis

From Southern Wisconsin

Even before an insidious, perplexing, parasitic particle was named novel coronavirus, trout anglers were driving a few miles, sometimes a day, to cast a fly, toss a spinner, or wet a worm. They knew where to find relief.
Sometimes these anglers went stream side to be alone, or to challenge another animal, or to breathe country air, or as they often say, “to get away from it all.”
The outdoors, recently, can be one of the few places this virus has not found. It “kills” coronavirus to be lonely, away from crowds, but the outdoors seems to heal many things ailing us, too.
Trout fishing is not unique in this regard. Different folks find their antidote by hiking, running, biking, birding, “chasing” turkeys, sitting in a tree stand, or just driving through the country at 30 mph even though the maximum speed limit is 45 or 55.
Precautions are necessary and helpful. Dog lovers and bird hunters understand scent lingers. Animals leave a “trail” of where they have been. We may cough out droplets encapsulating disease particles along our trail.
If we are outdoors running, biking, even hiking, someone may catch up to our castaways in a manner of moments, so is six feet enough? It’s far better than touching or rubbing elbows.
Turkey hunters begin calling to toms with innumerable devices, including the all-popular diaphragm mouth call, which doesn’t need an assist from our hands once it’s orally-seated.
Here’s the possible danger trail, not for the turkey, but the turkey hunter. Generally, diaphragm calls are stored in small, plastic containers. Anxious hunters load their gear, then a cup of coffee at a drive-through, and head to the woods, sipping all the way.  Lastly, the hunter takes a bare hand and sticks his diaphragm call into his mouth.
A turkey may like what it hears and so might the particles from the worker’s hand, to a cup, to a hunter’s hand, face, lips and nose. Caution to the turkey: Don’t believe every turkey call you hear. To the hunter it's take everything from home that is required to outsmart a turkey and a parasitic virus.
While turkey hunting is a great way to be alone in the outdoors, don’t be surprised to hear of hunters who, during 2020, loved the challenge, but just felt a need, in 2020, to forego pulling the trigger.
There are numerous ways to enjoy the outdoors, pretty much alone or with an immediate family member, but getting prepared to head out needs to have a new scenario.
One of the most enjoyable moments of an outdoors experience is the afterglow with fellow runners, birders, anglers and dog trainers. That part needs to be reduced for now.
Remember the need to license-up for turkeys and trout. The four rules of hunter safety are important, too. As are all the other “rules” including ethics, safety, respect for nature and common sense.
Camaraderie is important, but a call or even a thank you card to a landowner will have to do for now. Emails? Just be careful not to include a “virus.”
Outdoors users might consider showing their “badges” of courage and concern regarding Covid-19.
Turkey hunters, and birders, feel comfortable wearing face masks so why not wear them in public? During the nine-day gun deer season, hunters are required to wear a blaze orange cap while in the woods. This could be their badge of solidarity during this time, too, reminding us all to know our target, and what is beyond.
Many, now famous, quotes have been collected about fishing. Most could apply to the outdoors in general, regardless of what’s out and about. Jackie Corley collected many in “The Angler’s Book of Favorite Fishing Quotations."
Joseph Monnigner was quoted in the book as saying, “I go fishing not to find myself, but to lose myself.”

Contact Jerry Davis, a freelance writer, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 608-924-1112

Scott Gartner

Island Outdoors on French Island

The river has now crested and is more or less sitting at the top and only falling slowly, only inches a day, according to Scott Gartner, owner of Island Outdoors on French Island.  
That said, the perch spawn is coming to an end for the most part.  Northern pike are just about done as well! Look for walleye to spawn right soon if not as I write this.
Try fishing near edges of current or shallow now that the fish can't sit out in the middle of the river. Even if they do, you can't present a lure or minnow correctly in this insane current.
As soon as we see lilacs blooming, we will need to be ready for crappies and smallmouth bass to start spawning. The patterns for ALL fish are as follows... fish on the EDGE of current or in the back bays that have warmed up. Also, some flooded trees can be good this time of year.
Tight lines!

Wild Birds Unlimited

Karen Perry from Wild Birds Unlimited

Let's think colorful thoughts of orioles.
Mid-April is the month a lot of people start seeing or hearing the Baltimore orioles. I think this Easter weekend would be a fine time to get those nectar feeders cleaned up and filled.  
There are many types of oriole feeders on the market. Some are just for nectar, some for nectar and jelly, and finally one for nectar, jelly and oranges.
Right now, oranges are the most important thing to put out. First of all, the color will attract orioles to your feeders, but after their migration they love the endocarp (the meat) of the orange. They will eat from the oranges for about a week or so and then enjoy the jelly and nectar. They have also been known to enjoy meal worms and our Wild Birds Unlimited Bark Butter Bits.The jelly should be grape plain and simple. Nectar is the same as hummers, 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. I like to boil mine to have it stay fresh longer.
WE also carry a nectar protector in our store. A few drops in the nectar keeps it fresher even longer.  
Some folks like to put in a few drops of orange extract, which is fine, but not necessary. Let's stay away from coloring the water for both the orioles and the hummers. It is absolutely not necessary and could even be harmful.
During this time of quarantine, let's enjoy nature and if you see orioles please give our store a call at 608-781-5088 and let Stephanie know.  
Stephanie is running the store on a curbside pickup basis only as mentioned last week. You can purchase whatever you would like including a new nectar feeder, meal worms, food, etc. Just let her know when you call her.
A refresher of our curbside pickup hours at: Wild Birds Unlimited, Onalaska, Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m.-2 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m.-noon.
Happy, joyful Easter, stay safe and well, go out and enjoy nature and the birds!
Karen Perry