Ron Hustvedt

Ron Hustvedt is an outdoors writer and photographer who covers a broad array of experiences, individuals and events centered on hunting and fishing. He is also a professional educator. Please visit his website at

Memorial Day crowds too much to handle? Try night fishing!

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt under Recreation, Fishing Updated: May 21, 2014 - 4:13 PM

            One of the best times to be out on the water, is that time period after most boats have gone in for the evening. Nighttime is a great time to be on the water, especially if you were stuck in the office rather than the boat on that sacred fishing opener weekend. 

            Fishing at night in May and early June is an under-fished time period that can reap large benefits for anglers who try it. Night fishing is a ton of fun and best of all you don’t have to compete for the best locations..

            With all the crowds on the lake during the walleye opener and Memorial Day weekend, walleye can be pressured from their traditional haunts during the day. Move into those places near dark and most of the boats are gone.

            A note of caution: night fishing is not recommended for the ill-prepared. Anglers who fumble around during the daytime are likely to have a disaster at night. Also, be sure that your lake is open for night time fishing. Mille Lacs has a night fishing ban right now and a few metro lakes have some special regulations regarding fishing at night.

Night fishing requires a boat without too much clutter, lighting that is hands-free, and a life jacket should be worn at all times. If you’ve never fished the lake before, be sure to have a good map and don’t just rely on your GPS. Mapping software is another great tool, but there are hidden rocks even on lakes with detailed mapping technology.

            Some anglers like to tape a flashlight to their landing net but most prefer to wear a headlamp. A good headlamp runs around $20 and must be easily turned on and off.

            Getting on the water before the sun sets is best if you can do it because you can get set up while there’s still daylight. Not only that, but the night bite begins before the sun sets so consider it getting out there early.


            Walleye like to move from the depths up to the shallows at night, especially during this time of the year. A large flat with emerging weeds is a great location, especially if it’s adjacent to an area with current such as a channel or narrows. Try trolling the seven to 12 foot depth range with a shallow-running Rapala just ticking the tips of those fresh-growing weeds.

            Inside turns of underwater structure can be especially good in depths ranging from a few inches deep on down to 12 feet of water. If you arrive before dusk, start at the deeper locations but once night settles in go shallow.



            Livebait rigs with or without spinners are great for fishing the lowlight period as the sun is setting. A leech, minnow or crawler will each work but it’s always best to have each along with so you can key in on the most productive lure. Nortland Fireball jigs tipped with livebait are also quite effective.

            A jig tipped with a Northland Impulse artificial bait is also very effective and can be easier at night when checking the condition of your bait is not as easy. The scent given off by the Impulse baits attract walleye that more drawn to scent during low-light periods.

            Crankbaits are not to be overlooked, especially once the sun has set. A shallow-running or countdown Rapala minnow is effective when long-cast over shallow flats at night. Clackin’ minnows, raps and X-Raps are also great options. Longlining these same lures while using the electric trolling motor or a controlled drift with a driftsock are also quite effective.

No boat? No problem!

            Another great thing about nighttime fishing in the spring is that you don’t need a boat to get to the walleye, you just walk out there and they’ll come to you. Many anglers in boats find themselves in depths of two to three feet of water, which anybody with waders will tell you is an accessible range of water.

            It’s a lot of fun to be out there in your waders and I’d say it’s a more rugged experience than fishing from the boat. I’ve gone wading numerous times and had tremendous success. I still prefer to be in my boat but wading out to a shallow flat at night is a surreal experience. You have the stringer tied to your waders and your minnow bucket is tied to you as well—if you get a good bite then back up and get ready for a real in-the-water battle.

            My favorite method is to pitch a Fireball jig tipped with a shiner up into a shallow point or flat that is adjacent to deeper water. Some of my favorite locations on Lake Bemidji are Diamond Point and the fishing pier by Lake Irvine. On Cass, I like the area around the channel that flows into Pike Bay.

            In the metro area, Lake Nokomis has some great night fishing spots around the lake. Some of the best fishing is the southeast side of the lake and just north of the big swimming beach on the west side. Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet have good night fishing locations all around the lake. Areas adjacent to public beaches on any lake are good at night because nobody is swimming and all that sand makes for a good walleye cruising ground.

            Safety is extremely important with this scenario, however. I always wears a lifejacket while night fishing with waders and take along a powerful flashlight. You will have boats out there with you and if somebody wants to cruise over the shallows at a higher speed you need to be able to signal to them that you are out there just as you would if you were in a canoe or kayak. 

Game Fair ready for a second big weekend

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt under Family, Weather, Family activities, Family, Dogs, Recreation, People, People: Comings and goings, People and neighborhoods, Family Fun, Armstrong Updated: August 13, 2013 - 10:39 PM
The competitions are heating up at Game Fair for dogs, archers, and callers--not to mention for exhibitors looking to give people the best deals on outdoor equipment. 
This upcoming weekend at Game Fair is the second annual $10,000 Duck and Goose Calling contest. The duck calling contest is on Saturday, August 17 and the goose calling contest is Sunday, August 18.
There are three divisions for each duck and goose calling, including: youth, open and two-person. A portion of all entry fees will be donated to Minnesota Ducks Unlimited and sponsors of the event include: Game Fair, Ducks Unlimited, Federal Ammunition, Cabelas, Hardcore Brands, Flyway Customs, Big Sean’s Championship Calls, Beavertail, Luck Duck Premium Decoys, Visual Web Group, Eaglehead Outdoors,, Top Gun Guide Service, Foiles Migrators, Dakota Decoy Company, Flagman Products, First Flight Finishers, and Kruger Farms. 
 Everybody got into the calling contest mood during the first weekend of Game Fair, with a turkey calling contest on Sunday.
 New to Game Fair this year, and expected to return, was a turkey calling contest hosted by Shane Simpson of A total of 15 different callers and 24 entries turned out for the premiere, much to the delight of Simpson.
“This was a very good turnout for a contest and most were new faces,” he said. The contest was more for fun, rather than a sanctioned event, but there were still plaques for the winners along with prizes. “Had this been a sanctioned contest, there would have been even bigger prizes and more callers making it one of the larger contests in the Midwest,” Simpson said.

In the open division: first place went to Kevin Croteau of Ramsey; second place was Curtis Goettsch of Cresco, Iowa; and Connor Wall of Clearwater came in third. In the amateur division, Wall took first place and Croteau came in second, while Thayne Jensen of Otsego came in third.          

  Contest emcee Kara Wattunen, an avid turkey hunter, was especially happy with the fact that in the youth division, the top three winners were all girls: Adrianna Rice of Minneapolis won the event; Clara Wall of Clearwater came in second; and, Kelby Moore of Rice finished third in the standings.


Check out the photographs from each of the three divisions as well as the emcee and judges making their final announcements at the end of the contest. Sponsors of the contest included: Game Fair, Hunter's Specialties, Hook's Custom Calls, Federal Premium Cartridge, Weaver, and




As if that wasn’t enough.
The second weekend of the North American Shed Hunting Dog Association international qualifier and junior dog hunt test takes place Saturday throughout the day at Game Fair. To qualify for the international contest, dogs must already be registered, but the event is open to all who are interested in seeing how well their dog retrieves antlers.
There will also be finals on Sunday for all the dog events at Game Fair. Winners from each day of both weekends will return for a final championship round. If you are interested in having your dog participate, bring them to Game Fair (leashed) Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Dogs are admitted to the fair for free but dog events cost $1 to participate in.

The Game Fair Archery World $1,000, 100-yard Archery Challenge is also going on throughout the second weekend.


            Kurt Baumgartner is running the event and reported that 20 archers have qualified so far and only three are repeats from last year. One of the archers is a 15 year old girl and she probably won’t be the only one by the time the final shoot-off takes place on Sunday.
Additional qualifying shoots take place Friday and Saturday from 10 to 11 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. There’s one last chance Sunday morning from 10 to 11 before the final shots are fired Sunday afternoon.
More details?
            Details on any of these contests, and all the other details at Game Fair, including the $10,000 Duck and Goose Calling Contest, can be found at Don’t forget to print your $2 off coupon for admission and that Friday is Family Day meaning that kid’s get in free with a paid adult.
Beautiful weather kept the crowds happy during Game Fair's first weekend. Exhibitors and organizers are hoping for a repeat performance from Mother Nature the final weekend of the event August 16, 17 and 18.

Beautiful weather kept the crowds happy during Game Fair's first weekend. Exhibitors and organizers are hoping for a repeat performance from Mother Nature the final weekend of the event August 16, 17 and 18.


Gould Brothers Exhibition Shooting filling big shoes at 2013 Game Fair

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt under Recreation, Minnesota newsmakers Updated: August 5, 2013 - 11:57 PM




Visitors to this year’s Game Fair will be treated to a fine show of shotgun shooting skills put on by Steve and Aaron Gould of Alexandria, Minnesota. They did one show at last year’s event, located at the Armstrong Ranch Kennels in Ramsey, MN, but this year they are shooting two times a day for all six days of the fair.

            For those who don’t know, Game Fair is the nation’s largest outdoors pre-hunting event and it takes place over two weekends in the northwest metro off Highway 10 and Armstrong Boulevard.These guys are very talented shooters who have managed to amass a lot of notoriety in a very short period of time. 
            That’s a testament to both their marksmanship and showmanship because in the exhibition shooting world you have to be able to consistently hit a lot of targets while also making crowds laugh, smile, ooh and aah.
            What I found most interesting is that neither had ever heard of exhibition shooting until about a decade ago. The older brother, Aaron, grew up hunting with an uncle, so he has been around shooting and firearms most of his life. The younger brother Steve, only really started shooting when he was in college.
            That was less than 10 years ago and now the two are being flown all over the country to put on shows and talk about their number one sponsor Winchester. They selected Winchester as much as the company selected them and they are more than willing to show off the attributes of their Super X3 and Super X Pump shotguns.
            Crowds at Game Fair over the past six years saw Tom Knapp put on the exhibition shooting shows and for the first 25 years of Game Fair the exhibition shooter was John Satterwhite. 
            Retirement ended Satterwhite’s run while Knapp retired from exhibition shooting earlier this spring, only three weeks before his death in late April. His passing was a very sad moment for everybody at Game Fair as well as for the Gould Brothers who idolized Knapp and saw him as their mentor.
            Knapp accepted that mentorship role and did a lot to pass on many of his shows to them, including Game Fair. But it’s not like Chuck Delaney, owner of Game Fair, and other folks had to just accept the Gould Brothers. The pair earned their shooting gigs because of their skills and talent. A nod from Tom Knapp doesn’t hurt either, but it’s a tough world out there.
            I had a very good conversation with Steve Gould on the phone Sunday night and he’s excited for Game Fair. He has a lot of different ideas for what the two of them will do in their twice-daily shows and visitors can expect to see their finest tricks on display.
            Their first shooting exhibition is at 11:30 each day of Game Fair (August 9, 10, 11 and 16, 17, 18) in the Game Fair bleachers near the front entrance. Their second show of the day is at 5:00 on Friday and Saturday and 4:30 on Sundays.
            For more details on the Gould Brothers exhibition and the entire Game Fair rundown be sure to visit 

Game Fair 2013 promises to be bigger and better than ever

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt under Bird conservation, Bird migration, Bird personalities, Environment, Family activities, Family, Dogs, Recreation, Birding, Fishing, Family Fun, Anoka, Armstrong Updated: August 3, 2013 - 11:58 PM

Folks line up as gates open up 9 a.m. daily August 9, 10, 11 and 16, 17, 18

Folks line up as gates open up 9 a.m. daily August 9, 10, 11 and 16, 17, 18

 The Armstrong Ranch Kennels in Ramsey are set for the 32nd annual Game Fair, with tons of events, activities and attractions for the entire family . The six-day event takes place over two weekends in August beginning August 9, 10 and 11 and continuing August 16, 17 and 18. Fall hunting seasons are coming soon and Game Fair is the best place to see and try the latest gear while learning from the nation’s leading experts.

Your hosts for all 32 years of Game Fair are Chuck and Loral I Delaney. After a visit to England’s Game Fair in 1980, the Delaney’s decided this type of event might be a hit among the outdoorsmen and women of the Midwest. That first Game Fair held in 1982, on the same grounds as it is today, was just barely a success—but it was the start of something that’s only grown bigger and better each year, attracting millions. Game Fair has also been the launching point for many new products, talents, and experts—it’s truly the place to be for outdoors lovers of all ages.
Plenty of things to see and experience at Game Fair

Plenty of things to see and experience at Game Fair

Game Fair is a full participation event and visitors are encouraged to bring their shotgun (cased), their bow (cased), and their dog (leashed). Many visitors just prefer to watch others in action with a twice daily shooting exhibition, dog events, archery, birds of prey, and dozens of daily seminars from national outdoors experts. Game Fair is home to over 250 exhibitors including top dog trainers, hunting guides and retailers from across North America. With dozens of Dog Clubs and Sportsman’s Clubs, Game Fair is the nation’s largest gathering of outdoor organizations.
Game Fair is the only place where you can do it all. Some of the highlights of 2013 include:
·      Twice daily Exhibition Shooting Shows brought to you by the Gould Brothers
·      Firearms Trainer Wendy Brown with Ladies and Youth shooting instruction
·      Fan favorite “Mr. Sound Effects” returns to perform his phenomenal vocal skills
·      Meet Rusty the Horse, otherwise known as the world’s largest golden retriever
·      Big prize contests open to all including a $1,000 Archery Shooting Challenge, a $10,000 Duck and Goose Calling Contest, and a Turkey Calling Contest.
Visit with Ron and Laura Schara, talk waterfowl with champion callers, hear dog training advice from nationally renowned trainers, watch the fabulous birds of prey with Frank Taylor, or just walk along the lake taking in the sights throughout the picturesque grounds.
Quench your thirst or curb your hunger at the many concession stands. Be sure to try your luck at numerous raffles and drawings for big prizes throughout the Game Fair.
The spacious woods and water of Game Fair are open rain or shine from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. August 9 to 11 and August 16 to 18 (closing is 5 p.m. on Sundays). Game Fair is located in Ramsey at the Armstrong Ranch Kennels. Complete details on the 32nd annual Game Fair can be found online at or by calling 763-427-0944. Follow Game Fair on and on Twitter @GameFairUSA. See you at Game Fair!

A truly unique fishing opener "on" the ice

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt under Fishing Updated: May 11, 2013 - 3:45 PM




PIKE BAY LAKE, CASS LAKE, MN--The shoreline ice around most northern Minnesota lakes has deteriorated beyond the bounds of being walkable but a shallow sandbar provided myself and two fellow anglers the opportunity to have some cautiously safe fun this fishing opener. 

Bryan "Beef" Sathre of Fathead Guide Service hams it up on the ice in shallow water on Pike Bay Lake

Bryan "Beef" Sathre of Fathead Guide Service hams it up on the ice in shallow water on Pike Bay Lake



In 30-plus years of fishing the mythical Minnesota walleye opener, I can safely say I've never seen ice on my favorite lakes this late in the season. It's been close a few years but never like this and, according to the record books, only a time or two like this in the last century. "I can remember there being ice up here in 1996 but that's about it," said Bryan "Beef" Sathre of Fathead Guide Service in Bemidji and Cass Lake. "The old-timers up here tell me that the last time it was like this was back in 1950, so this is probably a once in a lifetime sort of experience," he added. 



Armed with tow ropes, extra floatation and wearing life jackets, Sathre, another friend and I ventured out onto a shallow sand bar along the shore of Pike Bay Lake near Cass Lake Minnesota. The edge of the ice was 8-inches thick and we found ice as thick as 14-inches. The depth of the water we were over never exceeded 5 feet deep and we were well dressed in case something dramatic took place. 

We had to drill holes using an ice auger when we weren't along the edge of the ice. There were plenty of small to medium sized perch all over the shelf where we were fishing and the edge of the ice was quite stable, once you broke off a few feet of "honey-combed" ice. How did we get on the ice? The water was so shallow that we just stepped up onto it. 

A photograph I posted on Facebook went viral around mid-day Saturday with plenty of comments from people both on the positive and negative aspects of our journey. For one thing, all three of us are very cautious individuals who are otherwise very responsible members of society. We didn't venture into anything where we didn't have extra safety measures in place. There were plenty of opportunities for being stupid but we stayed over water shallower than our height and we didn't venture past a small presure ridge that prevented us from the spot we had selected to fish.



Point being, if we were out there with the primary purpose to fish, we would not have been able to access the locations we wanted to. Just being able to say we fished through the ice on fishing opener was the experience onto itself. I'm fairly certain that whitewater rafters and kayakers take a greater risk than we were that day. 



Most comments on Facebook said this was the quintessential Minnesota fishing experience and that's exactly what we were going for when we set out. Those who said it was stupid or irresponsible have every right to say that, but I respectully disagree with them. think it's irresponsible to go in a boat without a life jacket on and check out all the photos of people from this weekend who are without one. Cold water is dangerous whether you are walking through it with insulated waders or in a boat. 

None of what we did out there was staged or fake. We weren't sitting on a dock either. That was a solid sheet of ice. It looks crazy but really it was quite tame. The photographs of the two guys with their feet dangling in the water were taken by me, standing about six feet away, on the sandy bottom with waders and a life jacket on. 



Ice conditions are rapidly deteriorating and we are fairly certain that the ice we were on early this morning will not be accessible within the next day or two. If you decide to do the same, be sure to take the utmost caution. I have a five-year-old and a three-year-old child and both guys who were with me also have young kids. We left them at home for a good reason. If you decide to do the same as we did, leave the kids at home and remember that you are probably at a greater risk of something happening during your drive to the lake than when you are out there. 

Good luck fishing and happy fishing opener 2013!


Text and photos by Ron Hustvedt of

Text and photos by Ron Hustvedt of



In search of giant pike, across the border, in winter's final trophy hunt

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt under Adventure travel, Fishing, Road trips, Travel, Sports, Fishing Techniques, Golf, Lake of the Woods Updated: March 31, 2013 - 12:11 AM

Some anglers go ice fishing—we were out on a trophy hunt. 

Not your typical trophy hunt, however. There would be no killing, at least none intentionally. Trophies would be released, a little tired, but no worse for wear. 

Whatever the quarry, it’s true that trophies tend to live in special places that require a little extra work to get to. A specific bay on Lake of the Woods was our destination for this trophy hunt and big pike were our quarry.

The mythical number for pike anglers is the 40-inch mark which roughly works out to being a 20-pound fish. It takes a special body of water and the right tactics to land a pike of that size. 

Lake of the Woods is loaded with big fish including probably the highest population of pike over 40-inches in the 48 contiguous states. Although there are plenty of excellent big pike entry points on the American side, our trophy hunting crew decided to cross the border into Canada—Manitoba to be specific. 

Only a small portion of massive Lake of the Woods is in Manitoba, most of the lake is in Ontario. The segment in Manitoba is known as Buffalo Bay and we stayed at the beautiful Buffalo Point Resort located right on the lake complete with a marina—a great access point for four-wheelers and snowmobiles. 

The group leader for my trip was Bryan “Beef” Sathre of Fathead Guide Service. A national pro-staffer with companies like IceForce, StrikeMaster, MarCum Electronics, Rapala and Otter Outdoors, he has fished Lake of the Woods a ton but usually from the American side. 

“Late ice is big pike time all over the lake but it seems like Buffalo Bay just has a higher percentage of pike in that 40-inch range,” Sathre said. Anglers practicing catch and release is one of the chief reasons for that. “Trophies like this have been around a long time but have a lot more life to live so we let them go to keep making more pike to catch in years to come,” Sathre emphasized.

Also along with the group was seasoned big pike angler Sabin Rasmus who has iced numerous big pike and is equally adamant about releasing every pike as quickly as possible into the waters. “Celebrate the catch with a few photos and then let it go again—there’s nothing cooler than that big tail disappearing back in the hole and the gush of water as it swims off to be caught again someday,” Rasmus said. 



Trophy pike can be caught in a variety of ways but it’s tough to beat a solid spread of tip-ups over the selected area. Pike roam the lake in search of easy food, often in the form of dead fish floating just underneath the ice. These pike will kill anything they come across as well but an easy meal is tough for any predator to turn down. 

Our bait for the day was a dead minnow right around a foot long that was hooked with two trebles on a quick-strike rig. This “Slew-Dog” rig is a special set-up and the rig of choice for big pike anglers. Northland Tackle also makes a quick-strike rig called the Predator Rig and we used a few of them as well. 

Anglers can make their own rig as well so long as the treble hooks are big enough to fit the bait. In our case, foot-long frozen herring with one treble through the head and the other between the dorsal and tail. Large baits tend to deter smaller pike. Once a pike is on the line, it’s important to set the hook during the initial run to ensure a hookset in the mouth rather than deeper in the throat. A mouth hook is what makes a successful release possible.

Connecting the Slew-Dog rig to the tip-up was mason line. The thick white line performs very well in these conditions and doesn’t slice and dice your hand as a big pike burns the line on your fingers as you let it run. 

The snow was still thick on the ice so after drilling holes with the StrikeMaster equipped with extensions, we shoveled out an area to serve as a windbreak and then shoveled a viewing point so that the flag could be seen from our main base. 

Main base was at the midpoint of a J-shape resembling a decoy spread complete with 12 tip-ups set at various depths below the ice. None of the tip-ups was further than 200 feet away but only the end of the “J” was within 50 feet of home base. It makes for some high-stepping sprints when a flag pops, not to mention plenty of falls when your boot busts through the layer of slush and your other leg takes too big of a step. 

On the snow, near each hole, we placed a small black bucket to provide for an easy visual reference. Monitoring a dozen or so tip-ups from sunrise to sunset can be quite exhausting without visual references. 



Over two days of hardcore fishing, in cold and blustery conditions, our group found its fair share of trophies. Five of the seven anglers in our group caught the biggest pike of their lifetime and seven pike over 40-inches were caught along with many others just shy of that mark. 

When you fish this way, the only fair way to do it is to take turns. We decided who would be first before the first flag ever popped but it’s funny how multiple flags tend to pop all at once, knocking that system out of order. No complaints, however. When two or three flags go in succession and you are running from one hole to the next, it’s the peak of excitement and anticipation. It’s also a great way to warm up! This is cross-training at its finest. 

Even though he’s put numerous anglers on 40-inch fish both as a guide and a friend, Sathre had yet to bust the mark himself. All that changed on our last day of angling, however, when he pulled a chunky 42-inch pike through the ice. “I love putting other people on fish but I’m not going to lie, that was a lot of fun to catch and it’s amazing how much power a fish that size has,” Sathre said. 

Adding to the thrill was the sheer girth of Sathre’s pike. “It was a very thick fish that just rolled over my hands as I held it—definitely the biggest I’ve ever caught. Best of all, it’s still swimming,” he said. 

All the pike our group caught were successfully released, often without time to take photographs. Normally a March trip features warm weather and plenty of opportunities for successful releases and photographs. Not this year with below zero wind chills and temperatures in the teens at best. 



Crossing into Canada at the point of entry just north of Warroad was relatively easy and a passport card or book was all it took. Just a few hundred yards past the international border is the turn-off for Buffalo Point Resort. The resort has a wide variety of accommodations for visitors year-round including cabins for sale right on the lake. Check for details or visit for general information on fishing and accommodations on the American side. 

Buffalo Point Resort has a full marina that offers access in the winter and a landing in the summer. When not covered in snow, there is a lush 18-hole golf course with the perfect blend of lakeshore and woods. 

With a restaurant, store and bar on the premises there was little need to venture out into other parts of Canada. Our group is not much for boozing while fishing so we had no problem with the law in Canada restricting drinking on the ice. 

That said, Canada is under strict price controls on adult beverages so if that’s part of the after-fishing plans, make sure to come fully prepared. Just not over prepared—customs has strict restrictions on how much adult beverage can be brought into the country. 

Positioned on a point, Buffalo Point provides visitors with beautiful views of both sunrise and sunset. Being so far north, and relatively away from metropolitan areas, the stars shine brighter and the northern lights glow more colorful. 





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