While there’s still open water on the south end of Upper Red Lake, 4 to 7 inches of ice in other areas have tempted some anglers to venture out on four-wheelers.

Barb Woltjer, owner of Upper Red’s West Wind Resort in Waskish, said it’s likely she’ll open the resort’s access road this week. Initially, the access will be limited to foot traffic and portable shelters, she said. Those restrictions could be liberalized this weekend if the ice thickens.

On the east side of Upper Red where the resort is located, there’s no open water, Woltjer said.

“Everyone is so anxious to get out there,” she said, “but we are still dealing with early ice.”

Woltjer said the fishing reports have been strong and the lake could draw bigger crowds of walleye anglers this year to take advantage of relaxed regulations. Last winter, the lake’s walleye possession limit was set at two fish, none between 17 and 26 inches long. This winter, ice anglers on Upper Red can have three walleyes in possession, including one over 17 inches.

“For those who can get out, they are having really good luck,” she said.

 

Turkey hunt extended

Minnesota’s spring turkey hunting opportunities in 2016 are now expanded under a game management change by the Department of Natural Resources.

The bag limit will remain one bearded turkey, but public sentiment favored a shift to longer hunting periods, according to surveys by the agency and public comments.

Hunters will now be able to choose between five one-week time periods and one longer time period that will end the season on May 31. Unlike last year when there were eight time periods to opt between, all of the new periods include weekends.

Hunters who don’t bag a turkey during their first chosen time period will be given another chance during the last time period, even while using their original license, said Steve Merchant DNR wildlife populations program manager.

“This will make the experience more relaxing, as snow or rainstorms that could ruin an entire hunt will not be as much of a problem,” Merchant said.

Some hunters have indicated to the DNR that the change could damage the quality of the turkey hunt by overcrowding it. “For that reason,” Merchant said, “we remain committed to measuring hunter satisfaction and hunt quality so adjustments can be made in the future if necessary.”