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Field reports: North Shore gravel bars, created by flooding, could cause problems for fish

Last summer's flooding has created large gravel bars that are blocking the mouths of several North Shore streams, say fisheries officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Don Schreiner, DNR Lake Superior area fisheries supervisor, inspected several streams between Duluth and Silver Bay this past week.

"We've seen this before, and it has happened especially when we've seen low lake levels," Schreiner said. "It creates a larger beach area. When the waves from Lake Superior come in, it has more potential to pile up rock and rubble."

Lake Superior's level always drops during winter. It has dropped 10 inches since last July, according to the International Lake Superior Board of Control.

"We had the flood. Now we have the waves pushing in," Schreiner said. "We have some pretty good bars at the mouths of some of the rivers."

DNR officials are hoping that spring rains and subsequent runoff will open channels in those gravel bars, allowing trout to ascend streams for spawning.

"It's not unusual that a few streams would get this way, but not to the extent we've seen it with the flood event," Schreiner said. And we haven't had any runoff to open those streams up a little bit. It might be a year when we don't get fish up some of these streams."

The DNR has used a backhoe to open a channel on the French River in the past. Access is easy there, Schreiner said, and the DNR counts on capturing Kamloops rainbow trout there for the following year's stocking efforts. But it would be difficult to get heavy equipment near most stream mouths to open up the gravel bars, he said.

The gravel bars are more pronounced at streams from Duluth to Two Harbors, Schreiner said, than from Two Harbors on up the shore.

Wisconsin DNR reduces number of bear permits

Wisconsin's Natural Resources Board on Wednesday approved the Department of Natural Resources' recommendation to offer 8,560 bear harvest permits for the 2013 Wisconsin black bear season, down from 9,015 permits last year. The agency is hoping to reduce the bear harvest from about 4,600 last year to about 4,000 this year, said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist.

Four years of increased permit levels were successful in reducing bear numbers in the north, but populations remain high in other parts of the state. A study started in 2011 estimates Wisconsin's bear population to be about 18,500.

The DNR received more than 106,000 applications for the 2013 season. About 22,600 hunters applied to draw a permit while an additional 83,942 hunters applied for a preference point only.

The annual drawing for black bear harvest permits will take place in February and successful permit applicants will receive notification by mail by March 1. The 2013 bear hunting season runs Sept. 4 through Oct. 8.

Mentored turkey hunts set

Young people and women who haven't hunted turkeys before are urged to apply for mentored turkey hunts sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources this spring. The mentored youth hunts, open to 12- to 17-year-olds who have completed firearms safety by April 19, will be April 20-21. The women's mentored hunts will be May 18-19. The women's hunts are open to women older than 18 who have completed firearms safety by May 17. Deadline to apply for both hunts is Feb. 19. Go to for more information. The National Wild Turkey Federation cooperates with the DNR in offering the mentored hunts.

New ice-fishing show coming to Duluth

Shamrock Productions, the company that brings the Duluth Boat, Sports, Travel and RV Show to Duluth, as well as the Arrowhead Home and Builder Show, is bringing a new ice-fishing show to Duluth this December. It's called the Arrowhead Ice Fishing and Winter Show, and it will run at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Show on Dec. 13, 14 and 15, said Ron Murphy, president of Shamrock Productions based in Apple Valley, Minn.

The event will showcase ice fishing and ice-fishing gear, including fishing electronics, clothing, ATVs and snowmobiles.