Americans who complain about hassles that might occur while crossing into Canada to fish (the photo above is from the Canadian side of Lake of the Woods) or vacation should know that Canadians face challenges of their own when coming to the U.S.
That said, the subject here is crossing into Canada.
Here are a few ways to make the experience pass as smoothly as possible.
• Be prepared. Have your passport (or NEXUS card) ready, and those of any passengers you have in your vehicle.
• Roll the vehicle windows down in advance of pulling up to the Customs booth. Remove your sunglasses. Put your vehicle in "Park'' when you stop.
• Know what you can bring into Canada. Specifically, you likely will be asked about tobacco or alcohol and firearms. Ammunition is likely to come up as well, particularly if you are going to Canada to hunt.
• Fundamental is telling the truth. If you have more alcohol than you're allowed to bring into Canada duty-free, say so. The duty isn't that much. And lying — if you get caught — can cost you a lot of precious travel time, and perhaps more.
• If you're bringing children with you who aren't yours, it's important to have letters from their parents (both should sign, or send separate letters) stating it's OK for the kids to travel.
• Similarly, if you're traveling with your kids, but without their other parent, you'll likely need a note from the missing parent stating it's OK for the kids to travel with you.
• Forget about live bait.
• If you're accompanied by a dog, make sure you've got documentation of vaccination against rabies and a valid health certificate from your veterinarian.
• If you've got a DWI on your record you might be allowed entry at least once, dependent on the specific circumstances of the offense and the discretion of the agent. Other methods of ensuring passage require advance paperwork to be filed.
• Key questions an agent might ask (in some cases already knowing the answer) at the border include, "Have you ever been denied entry to Canada?'' Or, "Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offense?'' Rolling the dice — lying — might possibly get you into the country. More likely is more trouble than you want.
• Upshot: Smile, be polite, don't offer anything that isn't a direct response to a question. The agent might appear to be cold, even rude. But he/she doesn't have an easy job. Like his American counterparts, he's looking for bad guys. And bad guys generally don't raise their hands to identify themselves.
Drinking alcohol while operating a boat is one way to find trouble in Minnesota, particularly beginning Friday, when local, state and federal enforcement agencies team up for a coordinated effort to highlight the problem. Dubbed Operation Dry Water, the effort will continue through Sunday, in a run-up to July 4th, a holiday, statistics show, when boating accidents involving alcohol often spike. Since 2009, the percentage of boating fatalities involving alcohol has fallen from 19 percent to 17 percent. Still, boating while intoxicated can be deadly: In 2011, alcohol was a contributing factor in 8 percent of boating accidents overall, but figured in 17 percent of watercraft fatalities.
Minnesota fishing license sales remain significantly down from recent years, due, most likely, to the inclement weather this spring and early summer.
Sales numbers tallied recently by the Department of Natural Resources show 591,864 licenses purchased this year, compared to 713,744 last year and 679,276 in 2011.
The decline from a year ago is about 17 percent — representing a loss to date of about $2.7 million in revenue to the DNR.
Sales this summer are off 13 percent from 2011.
It’s possible license sales will pick up as the summer progresses, depending on weather.
Still, it remains true that many Minnesotans only fish on opening weekend.
Ken Soring has been named the DNR's top conservation officer, and as division director will lead a staff of 250 with a budget of $38 million, the agency has announced.
“Ken Soring has a deep and lifelong commitment to Minnesota resources and more than three decades of experience in the Division of Enforcement,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “He has great standing amongst field officers and our stakeholders, which will be very helpful as the Enforcement Division embarks on its strategic planning and workforce initiatives in the coming years.”
Soring began his DNR career as a wildlife laborer before becoming a conservation officer in 1984. He has served eight years as a conservation officer, 12 years as a district supervisor and the past nine years as a regional enforcement manager in Grand Rapids.
Soring also was acting enforcement director for six months in 2008-2009.
“I really see three immediate priorities for the division,” said Soring. “As a division we need to provide excellent service to Minnesota citizens; work to increase compliance rates with natural resources laws through education and enforcement; and strive to continuously improve the ways we conduct our work.”
Soring assumes his new position June 19.
Smallmouth bass fishing is improving quickly in the metro area, particularly on the St. Croix
River, despite high water levels.
Meanwhile, excellent walleye fishing continues across much of northern Minnesota, where water temperatures remain cool.
Smallmouth on the St. Croix can be taken on a variety of artificial baits and flies. Mepp's spinners cast close to rocky shorelines and retrieved at moderate speeds have produced hits, as have a variety of crankbaits.
Stick baits also are worth a try, as are surface poppers.
Skirted Jungle Jigs cast to rocks, or Ugly Bugs or similar lures, also will take fish and can be tipped with artificial or live bait.
Up north, walleye fishing has been good on Leech Lake, also Winnibigoshish, Cass and Bemidji, among other waters, as the cool, wet spring seems to have prolonged the season's best bite, keeping fish in fairly shallow water.
Crankbaits trolled "long line'' style at night are producing, as are jig and sliding-sinker style rigs.