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West End News May 12

Lake Trout
Lake Trout

Finalcut_WEN5_12_2011.mp310.48 MB

Some people have asked me about what happened with the mystery that I reported last week.  A car with a canoe on top was parked in the public parking lot here at Sawbill with no people around and no camping gear in it.  We were mystified as to where they had gone because the lake was too thick to paddle and too thin to walk on.  The good news is that the people returned a few days later and drove away.  The bad news is that they didn’t stop in to report where they had been, so the mystery will have to remain unsolved.

The official ice out date for Sawbill Lake this year was Sunday, May 8th.  Some of the larger lakes took another couple of days to go, but now everything is ice free just in time for the opening of fishing.  With the late break up date, walleye fishing will probably be slow this weekend, but the lake trout should be in shallow water and very hungry.

It takes a special breed to fish in the wilderness this early in the season.  Traditionally, the weather is terrible.  My dad used to joke that instead of going fishing on opening weekend, he would just put on his smelly old clothes, drink a six pack of beer, take a cold shower with his clothes on and then lay down and sleep in the shower.  In this way he would have the full experience without having to drive anywhere.  As with most jokes, there is a kernel of truth in it.  In my younger days, I spent every opening day on a secret wilderness lake trout lake with my dear friend, Hawk Jensen, from Silver Bay. We had a spot where we could fish from shore with minnows that we had great fun catching the day before.  We had comfortable camp chairs and good books to while away the hours.  Our tradition was to eat lake trout for breakfast, lunch and dinner on opening day. After that we couldn’t face eating more lake trout for at least a week.  We plan to resume our tradition once we retire, if that day ever comes.

Birch Grove Community School is hosting the “Gala for the Grove” fundraising event at the Lakeside Ballroom of Surfside on Lake Superior in Tofte on Saturday, May 21st.  Festivities include a champagne social hour with appetizers from 5 to 6 pm, followed by a gourmet dinner with wine from 6 to 7 and a very special auction and raffle from 7 to 8.  Auction items include, among other things, a roll of 20 Silver 1976 Proof Ike Dollars and a bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1966 wine.  From 8 until midnight there will be dancing with the Trail’s End Band.  Tickets are $50 a piece and are going fast. To get yours contact Diane or Lisa at 663-0170 or  Yours truly has been asked to be the auctioneer, but in spite of that you should still attend.

On Saturday, May 14 at 10 am Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center is hosting its annual "Plant a tree, get a tree (or two)" program.  Mike Reichenbach, Forestry Extension Educator, will discuss how and where to plant conifer seedlings and the options available for protecting seedlings from deer and rabbit damage.  He will also provide hints that make planting trees easier.  After planting a few trees, participants will receive native conifer seedlings to plant on their properties.  The trees are being donated by Loll Designs of Duluth who make outdoor furniture made of recycled materials.  Sugarloaf is dedicated to helping North Shore landowners restore their forests to healthy conifer forests for future generations to enjoy.  Sugarloaf Cove is located lakeside off Hwy 61 at mile 73.3.  For more information call 218-525-0001 or email

Three hot issues for the West End community have arisen recently.  The proposed community center in Grand Marais is drawing a lot of attention right now.  The proposed AT&T cell phone tower at the Tofte cemetery and more recently, a bill in the Minnesota legislature concerning water use by Lutsen Mountains Ski Area from the Poplar River have been in the news.  This is not the place for me to offer my personal opinion on any of these issues, but I do strongly urge West End residents to keep themselves informed, attend the public meetings and wait to hear all sides of the issues before settling on a position.  This is a small enough community, that if you have a question, you can call or email the people involved and get an answer straight from the horse’s mouth.  These are all important and complex issues that will affect our lives and need to be thoroughly thought through so we can do the best for our community and our children’s future.  Remember the wise words of an old rock song: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you can get what you need.”