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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - Apr 09

Wildersmith Sign Only
Wildersmith Sign Only

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
April 9, 2021    

Skies have been sparkling along the Gunflint Trail on the first weekend of month four. Temps have been warming steadily after the minus two experienced at Wildersmith on April “fools” day morning. Since then, spring has swallowed a big gulp of winter since our last gathering on WTIP.                                                                                                                                              

Border country landscape still has patches of winter memories, but is now in various shades of brown. A good deal of windrowed snow remains along back country roads where the sun is shadowed by coniferous shade. It’s a good bet this too could be gone in a week or so with the rather unusual April heat.                                                                                                             

There is increasing talk of ice out on area lakes. As I keyed this weeks’ scoop last Sunday evening however, the big ice cube on Gunflint looks to be pretty tight along the shore at Wildersmith.                                                                                                                                

Remembering the last two years, Gunflint Lake ice was going out during the day of the Walleye opener on the second Saturday of May. It’s a good bet the hard water will easily be gone before months’ end at the rate things are going.                                                             

Other signs we have turned the corner are noted with pussy willow buds popping like corn in a hot pan, a couple reports of rhubarb and daffodil sprouts have been reported peeking out of the warming earth and needles of the coniferous forest are suddenly, brighter green.                   

On a cautious note, the territory went yet another week with no precipitation. And our first thunder of the spring echoed down the lake earlier in the week, but boasted more “bark than bite,” dropping a mere quarter inch of rain. We are thankful for the dampening and hopeful of more by the time this report hits the air.                                                                                          

Several days have been quite breezy and coupled with the now dry forest duff and brush, wildfire danger has many of us on edge. An example was noted in a fire that could well have been disastrous last Saturday in the southern part of the county along highway 61.                    

With ice still on, getting wildfire sprinkler systems set to go is complicated at best, so ice out soon is critical. In the meantime, since about 98% of Minnesota wildfires are ignited by careless humans, Gunflinter’s encourage any and all throughout the County to self-impose their own burning ban. We should do this in the absence of a governmental decree. There’s no need for campfires or any refuse ignition until we get wet.                                                                                   

Speaking of breezy days, a couple area fishermen had a couple get away not long ago as the trout season wound down. While it is not unusual for finnies to get away under this ice, this angling expedition is one for the books.                                                                                          

It was during the last days of March when the two ventured out on a gusty day to set-up and drill for a little jigging. They had no sooner set-up their ice houses than a gust of wind caught the units and sent them sailing off across and down the Gunflint ice. Tethering to their four wheelers was not enough as connections gave way to “Mother Nature’s ire. Luckily the shanties were not occupied.                                                                                                           

Thoughts of angling suddenly turned to search and rescue. Not knowing where the shacks would end up in the blizzard like conditions, one could only imagine where the units might be found along miles of shoreline.                                                                                                           

So the four wheeler quest began. Eventually one unit was re-possessed in a small bay about a mile across the lake. At this time it is unknown if the other shack was ever found. It will likely be retrieved at some point in time, but perhaps in the trees somewhere along the shore.                    

An interesting tidbit related the temporary fishing hut was found to be good condition after the wild ride. Propane heater/tank, tackle and bait containers and all other gear was intact.                                                                                                                                                     
So once again the fishing intent was great, and even one (fish shack) was caught, but in the end, another (shack) got away. It seems hard to escape that at least something always gets away or lost in every deep water excursion. Another fishing story for the ages!                                                

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, along the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, as life picks-up anew in the wild land forest.