Dennis Anderson

Dennis Anderson has been a Star Tribune outdoors columnist since 1993, before which, for 13 years, he held the same position at the Pioneer Press. He enjoys casting and shooting. Dogs, too, and horses. Also kids and, occasionally, crusading in his column for improved conservation.

Posts about Fishing

Underwater photography now easy with iPhones

Posted by: Dennis Anderson Updated: August 8, 2012 - 7:39 AM


If you own an iPhone and want to take better and more interesting fish-release photos, now there's a way.

LifeProof makes a waterproof case for these phones that is good down to about 6 feet — plenty to capture photos, say, of a trophy muskie being set free.

Until now, most images of fish being released were taken by a fishing partner from above and behind the angler releasing the fish. Now you can hold your iPhone under water to snap a shot of a fish being prepared for release, or to take a photo of the fish swimming away.

The image of the trout shown here was taken by my son, Trevor, who is a fly fishing guide in western Montana. A student at the University of Montana, he guides for Two Dog Outfitters out of Hamilton, Montana.

Here's a link to a blog of Trevor's in which other underwater shots are featured.

Of course it helps if the water is clear and clean, as mountain streams typically are. But similar photos are possible in many Minnesota waters.

High temperatures prompt Yellowstone fishing closures

Posted by: Dennis Anderson Updated: August 1, 2012 - 11:40 AM


Effective today, Aug. 1, Yellowstone National Park has closed some rivers to trout fishing because water temperatures have risen, stressing the fish.

The following rivers are closed to all fishing:

• Gibbon River below Gibbon Falls
• Firehole River below Keppler Cascades
• Madison River

A park news release cited high air temperatures, limited rainfall, runoff from thermal features, and below average stream flows as reasons prompting the closures.

Example:  Gibbon River temps have been above 73 degrees most of the past two weeks, with water temperatures in the Firehole River above 78.

Other park streams are being monitored.

Park staff say the extended forecast is for hot and dry conditions, and that additional fishing restrictions could follow.

Updates at

Alaska frets over king salmon decline

Posted by: Dennis Anderson Updated: July 24, 2012 - 1:55 PM


In a disastrous follow-up to last year's poor run of king salmon in Alaska, that state's most famous river for the big fish — the Kenai — has been closed to king fishing due to what officials believe is the poorest run of these fish since the 1980s.
Experts are at a loss to explain what has happened to the disappearing kings, which are in their fourth year of decline. But the effects of their absence are being felt around the state, particularly in native villages along the Yukon and other rivers.
"It is pretty scary,"  Timothy Andrew, director of natural resources with the Association of Village Council Presidents in Bethel, Alaska, told the AP. "Chinook salmon is probably the biggest species that people depend on for drying, salting and putting away in the freezer to feed the family throughout the winter."
Similarly, the massive Kenai River by mid-July is usually a veritable carnival of king salmon fishing. The closure's effect on the economy up and down the Kenai Peninsula will be widespread.
The July run is the summer's second, with the first occurring in June. But that run was also poor.
Fisheries biologists and managers are unsure what's happened to the highly prized fish. But some suspect that changes in the ocean environment, where the fish live for years before returning to their birth rivers, might be responsible.
It's also possible that changing ocean currents play a role.
Alaska's sockeye salmon run, by contrast, appears strong this summer. But guides don't have near the clients for sockeyes they do for kings.
"A lot of people have canceled,"  Dave Goggia of Hooky Charters and the president of the Kenai River Professional Guide Association, told the Alaska Daily News.

"The people that got shut down last year, that went no bait, they got a sour taste in their mouth. The people that got shut down in June, they got a sour tasked in their mouth. Now this? Even more people. Word's going to get out soon that, 'Hey, you can't count on Alaska anymore,' and it's going to be devastating," Goggia said.



With extreme heat come fish die-offs

Posted by: Dennis Anderson Updated: July 11, 2012 - 11:22 AM




More fish die in warm water than cold, because warm water holds too little dissolved oxygen, imperiling fish. Reports nationwide say heat has killed fish in Delaware, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, South Dakota and here in Minnesota, where hundreds have died in Albert Lea’s Fountain Lake and Austin’s East Side Lake, among other lakes. How to help? Muskie anglers (as above) in southern Minnesota should consider stowing their big sticks until water temperatures drop. Better yet, head north. And walleye anglers on “hot’’ lakes should consider methods other than “rigging’’ with live bait and sliding sinkers on long leaders. Fish take these baits deep, and die disproportionately after release in warm water. Jigs, crankbaits, even slip bobbers are better in these circumstances

Other conditions generally related to heat and/or summer weather also can contribute to fish die-offs, the DNR said in a news release issued Wednesday, a portion of which follows:

Heavy rains earlier in the summer caused unusually high runoff from fertilized lawns, athletic fields, golf courses and farm fields, starting a chain reaction of high nutrient loads in some lakes. 

The runoff carries nutrients into the lakes, which combined with hot weather, can accelerate the growth of algae. Hot, dry, sunny and calm weather can cause algae growths to suddenly explode, according to Craig Soupir, DNR fisheries habitat specialist.

“Aquatic plants remain relatively stable over time, but algae have the ability to rapidly increase or decrease under various conditions,” Soupir said.

Algae produces oxygen during the daylight hours, but it uses oxygen at night. This can create drastic daily changes in lake oxygen levels. These daily changes can result in complete saturation of oxygen during peak sunlight and a near complete loss of oxygen during the night. “All of this can add up to stressful conditions for fish,” Soupir said, “and even summer kill events.” Fish don’t seem to sense when oxygen depletion occurs and may suffocate in isolated bays, even when another area of the lake contains higher levels of oxygen.

Disease may also be a contributing factor to some fish kills. Schultz explained that when lake temperatures rapidly change, fish can become more susceptible to bacteria and viruses that naturally occur in the water. Columnaris is one of the most common diseases.

The bacterium is always present in fish populations but seems to affect fish when water temperatures are warming rapidly and fish are undergoing some stress due to spawning. Fish may die or be seen weakly swimming along shores. Species affected are usually sunfish, crappies and bullheads and occasionally, largemouth bass and northern pike.

“It is difficult to pin a summer kill on just one cause,” Schultz said, “and although it is a natural occurrence, it can be disturbing.”

Fish kills are usually not serious in the long run. Most lakes contain thousands of fish per acre and the fish kills represents a very small percent of that total.

Some positive effects from partial fish kills is that it creates an open niche in the fish population, allowing the remaining fish species to grow faster with less competition. 

Minnesota lakes are resilient. The DNR has documented these conditions many times over and lake conditions and fish populations do return to managed expectations, either naturally or with the help of stocking if necessary.

If strange behavior is seen in fish, contact the local DNR fisheries office immediately. “If we can sample fish before they die, we may be able to learn what’s going on in the lake,” Schultz said.  “Once the fish are dead it can be difficult to determine what happened.”



Mask helps keep sun off the face for anglers

Posted by: Dennis Anderson Updated: June 12, 2012 - 3:10 PM


Skin cancer incidence is on the rise in America, and people who fish regularly are among those at risk.

Various lotions can help minimize damage from regular exposure to the sun. But clothing works best to protect skin.

Example: Guides in the Florida Keys and Bahamas know well that long-sleeved shirts, specialty gloves and hats with "skirts'' that extend over the neck and ears offer optimal sun protection.

"Masks'' of the type now offered by many different suppliers also were first popularized in the Caribbean. Now you see anglers and particularly guides wearing these lightweight, "barely there'' masks regularly in Montana and throughout the West.

Sun masks for anglers are offered by various suppliers, including Simms and Patagonia.

Price is about $25.




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