CANADA CALLS for some folks to return every year, same place, same station. It may be a ritual of an outdoors calling as deeply rooted as where one finds morel mushrooms, wild asparagus or a special crappie hangout. The anticipated result will be fun in the outdoors, fun with a fine group of friends and fine dining along the shore of clear water lakes.
Such was the case in early June for Moore and his cadre of fishing friends. They all had their target set for Timberlane Lodge at Ear Falls, Ontario, Canada. Early June can be a peak month for fishing forays to Canada from the USA. Well for this group, the line of waiting fishermen to get into Canada was short, virtually no waiting to do the border duties of declaring intensions and destination. In some past years, the line has been long to get into our northern, neighboring country.
On this fishing adventure were local Marshalltown residents Ed Moore, Jerry Rakowicz, Bob Rider and Rick LaMasters. LaMasters' son, Eric, of Des Moines and grandson, Brandon, of Ankeny were part of the party along with Jeremy Rakowicz of Sioux Falls, S.D. and Don Niebuhr of Albia, Iowa.
Ed Moore of Marshalltown holds his 40 inch northern he brought to the boat during his early June adventure to Canada's Ontario Lake Lac Soul. His fish weighed about 18 pounds. The highlight of the annual trip was not northerns but walleyes, and lots of them.
Catch and release was the order of the day, except for the legal possession limit to keep for shore lunches and cross-border take home fillets. It was typical for each group member to catch 80 to 100 walleye and a few northerns during the week-long stay. The largest walleye award went to 18-year-old Brandon with a 25.75 inch fish tipping the scale at about 6 pounds plus. You can be assured that Canada will be calling again for these fishing friends.
HOT WEATHER is making itself felt in more ways than one. Fish in area ponds and lakes are coming under stress if the water depth is low, and an overabundance of aquatic vegetation may be present. So far in Iowa, fisheries biologists are getting sporadic reports of fish dying due to rapidly changing water temperatures, drops in oxygen levels and the aftermath of stress from spawning. There are not a lot of remedies for situations like these. Prior planning helps if the pond or lake construction allows for at least 25 percent of the water surface area to be 20 feet deep or more. Mike Hawkins, DNR fisheries biologist at Spirit Lake, notes that the impacts of a fish kill site vary with location. Fish kills are sometimes natural events due to circumstances like the present weather pattern. Fish kills can also be caused by the careless discharge of toxins or wastes into affected waters.
Last week's WILD GOOSE ROUNDUP at Green Castle was a success. Thirty-seven geese were given new aluminum leg bands with a number unique to them. Four adult birds that had bands from previous years were noted and released. This year's goose rodeo was attended by an eager group of volunteers from very young to seasoned citizens. All had fun, especially if they got to hold a goose as they waited in line for their turn at the banding station. It was especially gratifying to watch young boys and girls ages, four to 10, hold their first wiggling goose. Once the leg bracelet was attached, it was off to the lake shore for the bird's release back to freedom. Memories of a fun event like this will live on with those young people for their entire lives. Thanks for helping.
Other young birds are also in the area. Young pheasants have been observed as have young, wild turkey poults. Hurray for that. Warm, dry spring weather is one key ingredient in this success. At Green Castle, the TRUMPETER SWANS nested this year and hatched three. Well, due to predators, probably owls, two of the cygnets are not around anymore, having been turned into owl energy and protein. One cygnet has survived and, at this time, appears to be growing fast and doing well. This free young swan will be allowed to become a free-flyer, able to disperse and learn the landscape for migration to other sites this winter. Green Castle also has a young bison calf to view. Use binoculars from a high vantage point.
Since I'm on the BISON subject, these big beasts of the praire are a North American icon of the wild lands they once inhabited. Huge numbers of bison herds were noted in the journals of Lewis and Clark. Bison, as well elk, deer, proghorn, wild big horn sheep, quail, sage grouse and fish, provided food for the explorers as they ventured up the Missouri River.
Surviving herds of bison reside on farms and ranches in many places today. But as calm as they appear, they are NOT domesticated. These wild animals are perhaps more conditioned to fences and people, but their wildness and unpredictability are still hard-wired into their brain.
Case in point ... in Yellowstone National Park in Wyo. tourists like to see and photograph bison. There are many signs posted to educate park visitors to the potential dangers of getting too close to bison. These animals need their space. The signs indicated the possibility of being gored by an irate bison. Well, it happened again, this time to a tourist from Massachusetts. Last week's incident proved how unpredictable the big beast can be. A bull gored the 50-year-old man and left him with broken bones after being hurled 10 feet into the air and then pinned to the ground! He is recovering at this time in a nearby hospital. The bison was not being taunted. It simply wanted the right-of-way and took it when the tourist did not make way.
Bison cows can weigh about 1,000 pounds, bulls up to 2,000 pounds. Yellowstone NP has about 3,900 bison spread across the park. They can live for 12 to 15 years. Their diet consists of grasses and sedges. While they may appear calm and approachable, they are deceptively agile and fast for an animal their size. Their top speed is 35 miles per hour, and they can attain that speed faster than a quarter horse.
This scribe recently visited a BISON JUMP KILL SITE, a place where native Americans pushed and herded bison into a place for easier slaughter. The story on that will be forthcoming in a future Outdoors Today edition. Stay tuned.
In addition to the Decorah, Iowa BALD EAGLES that are ready to take their first flights away from the nest, other critters are taking wing too. New PEREGRINE FALCONS are wowing wildlife watchers across Iowa as 32 young are learning aerial combat and developing flight skills. Currently, there are 15 territories and 11 known successful nesting pairs that produced 32 young falcons. Iowa's first successful nests in 1993 were at the U.S. Bank in Cedar Rapids and the American Enterprise building in Des Moines. Nesting success of falcons continues and is doing well.
Here are a few facts to ponder. Iowa hunters for all types of wild upland, waterfowl or deer, number over 251,000 people. They spend over 3.8 million days afield. Hunters support over 6,000 jobs. Hunting generates $110.5 million in salaries and wages. Yearly spending by hunters in Iowa tops $288,000,000.
The average hunter spends $1,140 on trip-related expenses and gear. Hunters generate $23.4 million in local and state taxes annually. When put together into the economy, the ripple effect of hunting in Iowa is $359.5 million.
These statistics are from the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation and the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.
"Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing." Harriet Braiker, American Psychologist and Writer.
Garry Brandenburg is a graduate of Iowa State University with BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology. He is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. Contact him at PO Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.