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LAKE WINNIBIGOSHISH — Forgive Gerry Albert if he gets a little excited when he catches walleyes here. "Here's another one!'' Albert shouted as he set the hook on a walleye, working to keep a tight line and run his outboard in whitecaps. "Ohhh, and I think it's a keeper!" Big Winnie is Albert's lake, so to speak. He's the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' large lakes fisheries specialist for the huge reservoir — 67,000 acres, 88 square miles — northwest of Deer River.
COTTON, Minn. — Bob Reed has a little breathing problem that requires oxygen, had a heart stent put in last winter and can't walk very far because of arthritis. But get him on his Polaris four-wheeler ATV and Reed looks like a 15-year-old kid ready to cut loose. You can find Reed every Tuesday morning from late April through October riding ATV trails across the region with a dozen or more of his closest Cotton friends. They don't have a name for their group, but others have come up with something that seems appropriate.
WASHINGTON—A proposed amendment to a U.S. Senate bill funding military spending would bypass ongoing court cases and approve the land swap proposed between PolyMet Mining Co. and the U.S. Forest Service. Senate Amendment 2523 to the National Defense Authorization Act, apparently proposed by Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., would mandate the Forest Service move ahead with the trade of 6,650 acres of Superior National Forest land at the spot where PolyMet wants to dig Minnesota's first ever copper-nickel mine.
JAY COOKE STATE PARK — As his stubby, plastic kayak dipped under the wave of a rapids, between two boulders and then out of sight, Jon Schmidt let out a primal scream audible even over the roar of the river. There was nothing wrong, mind you, just a sign from Schmidt that he was shredding it. Schmidt, of Proctor, Minn., is a self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie. In winter, he gets his kicks snowboarding. But when the snow melts and fills Northland rivers with water, Schmidt grabs his kayak and hits the rapids.
DULUTH — For his day job, Lorin LeMire drives a massive iron ore haul truck at Hibbing Taconite, a two-story behemoth that can carry 240 tons of rock. But that's his easy job, Lemier says. It's this side gig on Lake Superior that causes him concern. "This is my stressful job, the one i do on my days off,'' LeMire said as he piloted his 28-foot Grady White boat out of Duluth's harbor and onto Lake Superior. "It can be a little nerve-wracking when people pay you to catch fish."
DULUTH — When Troy Skorich of Hermantown, Minn., and Tim MacDougall of Duluth won last weekend's 2018 Berg Construction Walleye Cup on the St. Louis River, they pulled up to the dock with no fish to weigh. In fact, none of the 60 tournament boats kept any fish to weigh. Instead, the winners of the tournament were determined not by weight of the fish measured at the dock, but on length, as measured by each two-person team in their own boat. The team with most total inches of fish — up to eight fish could be entered — were the winners.
OULU, Wis. — David Lindelof stopped his Buick along Highway B in Bayfield County and watched a bluebird perched on top of a wooden nesting house, just as a ray of sunshine poked through the clouds. "It's a bluebird morning for sure now,'' Lindelof said as he watched the scene through binoculars.
DULUTH — John Hanna started messing with 12-volt electronics when he was in high school, installing stereo equipment in his car. Pretty soon, his friends were asking them to rig their rides as well. "Eventually I started on my boat ... And then I had friends wanting me to do their boats. It was sort of a hobby that's expanded,'' Hanna said. That hobby grew into Psycho Billy Marine Service — we'll explain the name later — a part-time job for Hanna, a Duluth resident and supervising carpenter for Johnson Wilson Constructors during the day.
DULUTH — If you're hoping for a campsite at Gooseberry Falls State Park over Memorial Day weekend, you're probably out of luck. Same for Jay Cooke, Split Rock, Tettegouche and most of the region's other most popular state park campgrounds — they're 100 percent booked for the three-day, unofficial opening of the summer camping season. But if you're willing to drive a little and maybe try some new locations, there are still available campsites in the state park system for the upcoming long weekend.
DULUTH—The Center for Biological Diversity on Monday announced it has petitioned the federal government to protect lake sturgeon under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. environmental group says the big, long-lived fish needs more help to bolster recovery efforts that have been slow to succeed.