Moose Sightings, May 11th, 2013

It is now a safe assumption that the lakes are still going to be frozen solid on the fishing opener this weekend. The overnight temperatures fell below freezing last week and did not allow the lakes to melt down much up here. This will certainly be an opener to remember.

The Cross River at Gunflint Lake has cut a trail through the spawning grounds that will soon connect to the mouth of Magnetic Lake and help open up the west end of Gunflint. Otherwise I have not seen very much open water in these parts. The rivers are flowing hard from the melting snow but the ice on most of the lakes is still very thick. I am hearing reports of 24-30 inches of ice still on Hungry Jack Lake and I am sure this is a pretty good representation of the rest of the lakes as well.

Rachelle and I took the kids up to the Seagull River rapids at the End of the Trail campground on Saturday and there was still a fair amount of snow on the gravel roads. The heavily shaded areas near campsite No. 19 were holding enough snow to keep our minivan from passing. If it wasn’t for the kids I think I could have made it but Rachelle was not on board with the idea, so we backed out instead.

The river was running beautifully but I could not see any signs of walleye activity below the turbid waters. It might be a little early yet with the late weather this season.

I am not a fisheries biologist but I would have to believe that the conditions seem promising for a very successful walleye spawn this year. The well-oxygenated moving water is necessary to have a good walleye spawn and the past few years have not been this accommodating.

Last year the rivers did not start flowing until June when we finally started seeing some precipitation which was long after the walleyes had finished spawning. In fact, the river was so low during last year’s spawn that the bald eagles could barely fly from fattening up on the vulnerable females laying eggs in the shallow water.

It seems like there is more wildlife loitering around the end of the Gunflint Trail than anywhere else up here. We spotted four bald eagles in the moose pond near County Road 81 taking turns feeding on a dead deer by the shoreline and three moose on County Road 11. There have been two cows with three calves (collectively) that are usually on County Road 11 every day—especially during the dusk hour. They are so used to the spectators that they were willing to walk right past our car window within inches of us. I was tempted to reach out and touch one of the cows but decided against it when I saw her calves getting excited.

The moose are not very attractive this time of the year since they are skinny from a challenging winter and partially hairless from molting, but they are still entertaining to watch. If you are looking to see them up close— the end of the Gunflint Trail is a great place to try.

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