Leaping rainbow is a winner

Cloquet artist Stuart Nelson’s painting of a rainbow trout leaping to consume a mayfly has been chosen for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ 2014 Trout Stamp.

Nelson won the 1999 trout stamp contest with a painting of a brook trout but hadn’t submitted an entry since. His painting of the rainbow trout was selected from 13 submissions in the annual contest.

Trout stamp validations, $10, are printed on Minnesota fishing licenses. For an extra $2, purchasers can get the actual pictorial stamp.

About 83,000 trout stamps were sold last year in Minnesota.

The DNR offers no prizes for the stamp contest winner. The winning artist retains the right to reproduce the work.

Fishing contest Saturday

The Duluth Sail and Power Squadron’s ninth annual Captain’s Platter Fishing Contest is 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday on Lake Superior and the St. Louis River basin.

Last year’s event drew more than 160 participants; it has awards for four divisions: Lake Trout, Walleye, Chinook Salmon and Coho Salmon.

The DSPS will offer free vessel-safety checks to those who want their boats inspected.  Boats will be checked for appropriate, necessary equipment for operating vessels on Lake Superior and the St. Louis River basin. The safety checks are part of a national program in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Tournament headquarters is at the Duluth Sail and Power Squadron Dock in Allouez Bay (44th Avenue East and Superior Bay).

Cost is $15 each for adults and free for kids 15 and younger. Tickets and rules are available at Marine General, Bait Box, Fisherman’s Corner, Northwest Outlet or today at the Squadron Dock.

Contact Todd Carlson at (218) 348-4733 or go to duluthsailandpowersquadron.com for more information.

National attention

Grand Marais’ Dockside Fish Market was featured in the Travel section of Sunday’s New York Times as one of four restaurants in the U.S. “that celebrate their stamping grounds in ways that go beyond ingredients.”

The article, headlined “A Sense of Place, on the Plate,” noted the business’ ties to Grand Marais’ long — but mostly long-vanished — fishing heritage. Owners Harley and Shele Toftey operate one of the few remaining commercial fishing operations on the North Shore.

“It’s a dying thing,” Shele Toftey told the Times. “It’s a great livelihood, but it’s a hard livelihood.”

The article mentions, among other items, Dockside’s fried herring fillets and fried whitefish. It makes special mention of its herring roe, called Superior Gold Caviar, “that burst with a mild, briny tang.”

UMD’s big lure

John Simenson made it out of steel frame and cloth and spent $12 of his own money to buy an authentic Dardevle lure to copy. (Photo courtesy of UMD)

The crew of the Blue Heron, the University of Minnesota Duluth’s large-lake research boat, went out on their maiden voyage of 2013 hoping to catch some giant non-native fish in the world’s largest freshwater lake. If you saw the Blue Heron leave port Monday morning, you might have noticed the boat was sporting a giant Dardevle fishing lure made by first mate John Simenson.

OK, we’re kidding about the fishing part, but the lure was real. Simenson made it out of steel frame and cloth and spent $12 of his own money to buy an authentic Dardevle lure to copy. But the lure never actually cast into the lake. The crew didn’t have a large enough fishing rod. The lure is 14 feet long, and the hooks stretch another 8 feet.

Simenson said he made it for fun but also to draw attention to the oversized problem of invasive species in the lake and the Blue Heron’s role in invasive species research. Seeing it was April Fools’ Day, the timing seemed right to show it off. The lure now will go on display at UMD’s Large Lakes Observatory office.

Monday was the Blue Heron’s first run of the season. The first day trip was used to check out the boat’s operational capabilities ahead of upcoming voyages to conduct aquatic research.

Ice fish Fish Lake ice

Looking for another chance to ice fish this winter?

The Kiwanis Club of Cloquet hosts the 11th annual Last Chance ice fishing contest from noon to 3 p.m. today at Hi-Banks Resort on Fish Lake.

No luck catching fish? No problem. There’ll be a raffle and a chance to win prizes, too.

All proceeds go to the Salvation Army, area food shelves and the Special Olympics.

Call (218) 390-7556 for more information.

Catch and assist

Doug Pihlaja may have cost himself the chance to exaggerate this fish tale in the future, but it was worth it.

The Duluth fisherman caught a 20-pound northern on Whiteface Lake, north of Duluth, on Oct. 7. He wanted to preserve the moment with a photo before releasing the fish back into the water, but there were two problems: The fish wouldn’t fit in the net and Doug didn’t have a camera.

That’s when Mike and Anita Wiskow of Virginia came to the rescue.

The couple were on the shore in front of their cabin, sitting by a fire when Doug — a stranger at the time — pulled up on his boat and asked the pair if they had a camera.

“I caught the fish, and they hurried up and ran over to their camera,” said Doug, who might be the last living person without a camera phone. “They took pictures and watched me let it go.”

Mike and Anita asked for Doug’s name and address and told him they’d send the pictures in the mail. About a week later, the pictures of Doug’s big catch arrived at his home.

“It was a really nice thing they did,” Doug said.

Salmon fisherman to talk about mining in Alaska

Dave Rogotzke, a commercial salmon fisherman from Bristol Bay, Alaska, is the guest speaker at tonight’s Izaak Walton League Meeting in Duluth. Rogotzke will talk about the effects of mining on salmon fishing there.

The proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska would be a large copper, gold, and molybdenum mining operation. Supporters say it will create jobs, provide tax revenue to the state of Alaska and reduce American dependence on foreign sources of raw materials. Opponents argue the mine would adversely affect the entire Bristol Bay watershed.

Sound familiar?

The talk is set for 7 p.m. at Hartley Nature Center, 3001 Woodland Ave. It’s free and open to the public. Call (218) 525-3754.

Kids’ fishing clinics in Cloquet

We can’t guarantee they’ll catch any fish, but kids can get free tackle boxes and learn about fishing at upcoming MinnAqua fishing clinics at the Cloquet Public Library. Join MinnAqua intern Ethan Cooper on Aug. 10 to explore Minnesota’s aquatic resources in these back-to-back sessions.

Kindergartners through second-graders are welcome from 1-2:30 p.m., and third- through sixth-graders are welcome from 3-4:30 p.m. Each student will receive a MinnAqua starter tackle box with four compartments, a hook, bobber, sinker and rubber-bodied jig to help in the pursuit of fish.

The events are free. For more information, call the library at (218) 879-1531.