Stepping Outdoors With Craig Blog Stepping Outdoors With Craig

  • Getting to the Lake

    Posted by Craig Holgate

    In this case, I'm not referencing to jumping in the car and driving, but rather getting down to the shore of the lake. Summer storms did some heavy damage to our aging stairs that got you down to the water, so it was time for improvement. We don't remember exactly how many years ago Dad built these, but it had been quite awhile. And when a large tree hit them this year, new ones moved to the top of the list.

    So with a stack of new lumber and very little skills, the four(my sister and our spouses) of us set out to build a new set of stairs down to the lake. The end result is really not too bad, since we have very limited construction skills. In fact I ended up being foreman on the job, and I wouldn't have tackled this project by myself.

    The end result is a very sturdy and safe path down to the lake, which leads you to the old and shaky dock.... 

  • Late Season Fishing

    Posted by Craig Holgate

    I was reminded this past weekend of how much fun fishing this time of year can be. A lot of anglers have moved on to other activities and are looking forward to more of the fall hunting seasons to begin. But there still is some great action to be had as the overnight temperatures drop and the fish start moving into their fall feeding patterns. I can honestly say I didn't see near the number of fish I was catching back in June, but the quality was better. The largemouth bass I was catching were more likely to around 3 pounds than 1.5 pounds, and I had one the was pushing 4 pounds. Big baits, in this case jig and pigs, in the reed beds were producing the fish. Then begins the challenge of getting them out of the reeds!

  • Lake Wobegon Bike Trail

    Posted by Craig Holgate

    Well this week I added another bike trail to the list of those ridden. Or at least I can add part of the trail to that list. The Lake Wobegon bike trail is a 46 mile trail in central Minnesota between the towns of St. Joesph and Osakis. I started in St. Joesph and biked to the edge of Freeport before turning around and riding it back.

    Lake Wobegon Bike Trail

    The stretch from St. Joesph to Avon appeared to have been recently resurfaced, at least in the last couple of years, and was exceptionally smooth. I found the trail the rest of the way to be in good condition, just not as new as the first 8 miles I biked. Those first 8 miles were the most peaceful as well with no traffic noise as the trail wound it's way through the woods and along farm fields. After the town of Albany the trail begins to run along I-94 so you can see and hear the 4 lane traffic. I did see plenty of birds on my 40 mile trip, including wild turkeys, (see upper right photo), cranes, ducks, geese, and a hawk. When I finished my ride I talked with a trail monitor who was taking notes on trail usuage. They are trying to get funding to extend the trail seven miles into downtown St. Cloud. I would hope they get this funding, because the trail is being used. On a Monday morning ride I saw no less than 30 other bikers. Read more about the extension project and the trail itself here.  

  • Tour De Pines Bike Ride

    Posted by Craig Holgate

    Starting and ending in Itasca State Park, the Tour De Pines bike ride is just in it's fourth year. Sister ride to the Minnesota Ironman Bike Ride, it seems to draw a lot of riders from the Twin Cities and not too many local riders from the area. Although we did meet some riders who made the trip over from North Dakota. Saturday brought perfect weather for the ride and that made it more enjoyable. However, of the three bike tours I've riden this year, this one was the most challenging. The hilly terrain started right away in the park and continued over the next 78 miles. While we still enjoyed ourselves I made a mental note to be in better biking condition before riding it next year!

    Tour De Pines Bike Tour

    From the upper Right, the headwaters of the Mississippi River; biking down Wilderness drive one of the most scenic parts of the ride; out on county roads for much of the ride; my "vintage" Schwinn on the right side of the law!

  • Great River Energy Ride

    Posted by Craig Holgate

    Another Great job to the organizers and those who worked to pull of this year's Great River Energy Ride on the Mesabi Trail. Over 750 riders were on their bikes on Saturday for a great ride that concluded in Olcott Park in Virginia. The volunteers working the course and rest stops did an excellent job and it was a pleasure to be out biking on such a nice day. The rain stayed away during the bike ride, as riders started out in Grand Rapids, Marble, Hibbing and Buhl. Make plans to be apart of the fun next year, if you were not one of us who enjoyed the ride on Saturday.

    Great River Energy Ride

    At the finish line after Jennifer rode the 50+ miles from Marble and I did the 65+ miles from Grand Rapids. Looking forward to next year....

  • I wouldn't click this....

    Posted by Craig Holgate

    Well at least I warned you. And it is not pretty, but it was for a good cause again. On the left is last year's look, and on the right today's latest fashions!

    Walk a Mile in Her Shoes

    Walk a Mile in her Shoes is a good reminder of how much sexual assualt and gender violence there is in this world, and in our own communities. A group of us about 40 strong, took to the streets in downtown Grand Rapids yesterday to raise awareness and money for Support within Reach, and Advocates for Family Peace. Next year let's hope we can have even more getting out for this great cause.

  • The Color Run

    Posted by Craig Holgate

    They claim it to the "Happiest 5k on the planet." Since I don't run I was not running but it did appear to make people very happy. And it was a blast to watch. The Color Run is a nationwide event that stops in several cities across the country and sells out very quickly. 19,000 runners did the event in St. Paul yesterday the the State Fair Grounds.

    The Color Run

  • Wolf Season Details

    Posted by Craig Holgate

    The Minnesota Department of Natural Resource (DNR) has finalized rules for Minnesota’s first regulated wolf hunting and trapping season this fall and winter. There are several changes to what the DNR originally proposed in May as a result of input received since the proposal was announced.

    Grey Wolf

    “We changed the closing date for the late season from Jan. 6, 2013, to Jan. 31,” said Steve Merchant, DNR wildlife program manager. “We also tightened the wolf harvest registration requirement so we can more quickly close a zone based on harvest results.”

    Another notable change is that the wolf range will be divided into three zones for the purposes of harvest targets, registration and season closure. The northeast zone and the east-central zone closely parallel the 1854 and 1837 treaty ceded territory boundaries. These zones will allow the state to allocate and manage wolf harvest in consultation with Indian bands that have court-affirmed off-reservation hunting rights. The northwest zone will be the other area open to wolf hunting. Only that portion of Minnesota where rifles are legal for deer hunting will be open for taking wolves. When harvest targets are reached in any zone, that zone will be closed and hunters will be able to continue to hunt in any other open zone.

    The state’s first regulated wolf hunt will begin Saturday, Nov. 3. The target harvest is 400. The early wolf season will last up to nine days in the 200-series deer permit areas and up to 16 days in the 100-series deer permit areas. The late season, which also allows trapping for those with a wolf trapping license, will begin Nov. 24 statewide. Target harvests are 265 in the northwest zone, 117 in the northeast zone and 18 in the east-central zone.

    The state’s inaugural wolf season will be conducted under a conservative approach that is consistent with the goal of ensuring the long-term survival of wolves, and addressing wolf and human conflicts. The state’s wolf population is estimated at 3,000. This year’s wolf season follows the transition of wolves from federal protection under the Endangered Species Act to state management this past January. The 2012 Legislature also passed and Gov. Dayton signed a bill providing additional direction and authorities for conducting a wolf season.

    Merchant said the public comment period that ended June 20 was helpful, providing additional insights that helped determine the final decisions. The DNR received 7,351 online survey responses. The survey was designed to solicit input on specific management options for the hunting and trapping season.

    “Of those who approved of the season, 82 percent of survey respondents said they supported the DNR’s proposed season structure and implementation of a limited fall hunt,” said Merchant. “That suggested our proposal was generally in line with hunter and trapper expectations.”

    Other survey results included strong backing (75 percent) from those who supported wolf hunting for having both early and late wolf hunts. The DNR also asked hunters and trappers for their preference on notification and closure for ending the hunt when the target harvest quota is reached. Respondents overwhelmingly preferred that notification of closure be published by early morning, and that hunters and trappers be allowed to finish out the day’s hunt. The season will close at the end of the first full day for which closure notification is posted and sent to license holders.

    Additional information about wolf management and the upcoming season is available online.

    Details of the season
    Consistent with state law, the state’s first regulated wolf season will start with the beginning of firearms deer hunting on Saturday, Nov. 3.

    The season will be split into two parts: an early wolf hunting season coinciding with firearms deer hunting; and a late wolf hunting and trapping season after the firearms deer season for those with a specific interest in wolf hunting and trapping.

    A total of 6,000 licenses will be offered, with 3,600 available in the early season and 2,400 in the late season. Late season licenses will be further split between hunting and trapping, with a minimum of 600 reserved for trappers. The target harvest will be 400 wolves for both seasons combined, and will initially be allocated equally between the early and the late seasons.

    The early hunting only season will be open only in the northern portions of Minnesota where rifles are allowed for deer hunting. It will start on Saturday, Nov. 3, the opening day of firearms deer hunting. It will close either at the end of the respective firearms seasons in the two northern deer zones (Nov. 18 in Series 100 deer permit areas or Nov. 11 in Series 200 deer permit areas), or when a registered target harvest by zone is reached.

    The late hunting and trapping season will begin Saturday, Nov. 24. It will close Jan. 31, 2013, or when a registered total target harvest by zone or total harvest of 400 in both seasons combined is reached, whichever comes sooner. The late season will be open only where rifles are allowed for deer hunting. The use of bait and electronic calls will be allowed.

    Wolf hunting licenses will be $30 for residents and $250 for nonresidents. Nonresidents will be limited to 5 percent of total hunting licenses. Wolf trapping licenses will be $30 (limited to residents only). A lottery will be held to select license recipients. Proof of a current or previous hunting license will be required to apply for a wolf license. The application fee will be $4. A wolf season regulation booklet is being developed.

    Season structure

    • The early wolf hunting season (legal firearms or archery) will be concurrent with the deer season and open only in that portion of the state where rifles can be used to hunt deer.
    • The early season dates are Nov. 3-18 in 100 Series deer permit areas (northeastern and east-central Minnesota) and Nov. 3-11 in the rifle zone portion of 200 Series deer permit areas (central and northwestern Minnesota). The early season will close before those dates if the target harvest by wolf zone is reached sooner.
    • No trapping will be allowed in the early season.
    • The late hunting and trapping season will open Nov. 24 statewide. It will close Jan. 31 or when the total target harvest by wolf zone is reached, whichever is sooner.
    • Licensed wolf hunters will be responsible for checking each day to assure that the season is still open.
    • Landowners and tribal authorities may close land under their control to wolf harvest at their discretion.
    • The bag limit is one wolf per licensee.


    • A person cannot purchase both a wolf hunting and a wolf trapping license. A person with a hunting license may take a wolf only by firearms or archery; a person with a trapping license may take a wolf only by trap or snare.
    • 3,600 licenses will be available for the early season and are only valid for the early season.
    • 2,400 licenses will be available for the late season (at least 600 trapping) and are only valid for the late season.
    • The number of hunting licenses offered to nonresidents will be capped at 5 percent for both the early and late seasons.
    • Licenses must be purchased prior to the opening day of the respective seasons.

    Application process

    • Application materials will be available online in mid-August with a $4 application fee.
    • A person must have proof of a current or previous hunting license to apply.
    • Trappers born after Dec. 31, 1989, need a trapper education certificate or proof of a previous trapping license to purchase a wolf trapping license.
    • The application deadline will be Sept. 6; online winner notification will be no later than Oct. 14.
    • Licenses will be available for purchase no later than Oct. 15.
    • Groups of up to four individuals many apply as a single group and may assist another licensed wolf hunter, but may not shoot or tag for each other.
    • Applicants can apply for only one of three license types: early wolf hunting, late wolf hunting, or late wolf trapping.


    • All animals must be registered by 10 p.m. of the day of harvest (can be done electronically at ELS agent, online or by phone).
    • Harvest registration information/reporting will be available online and via a toll-free phone number.
    • Harvest registration must identify the zone in which the wolf was taken.
    • Carcasses must be presented for collection of biological data.

    Season closure and notification

    • The season for each wolf zone will close at the end of legal shooting hours on the day for which hunters and trappers are notified that the closure will occur.
    • Notification will be available via a toll-free phone number and DNR web site indicating whether the season is open or closed in each wolf zone.


  • 3lbs of Fun!

    Posted by Craig Holgate

    It always amazes me how much fun catching a decent sized fish provides. Sure it only usually takes less than a minute to get the fish into the boat, but what fun it is! This solid 3 pound largemouth bass gave me quite the thrill as it first tried to race back under the pontoon boat I found him under. Then took off for some nearby weeds before taking me back under my boat. A quick photo and this one was back in the lake for another day.

    3 pound largemouth bass

  • Did you cut Trees for the 4th too?

    Posted by Craig Holgate

    Not the fourth of July many of us had planned after strong storms moved through the area on Monday night. I happened to be at the lake that day and was inside the cabin when the trees started to come down that night. In all 12-15 trees came down on my property, which is not overly large, and I think they all came down within 5 minutes of each other. There are four of the downed trees in this picture. One in the foreground, one on the stairs and two on the roof.

    Thanks to the help of friends by Tuesday early evening we had things looking a little better.

    Only minimal damage done to the cabin, but still lots of clean up to be done, and brush to be burned. Hope you survived the storms alright.

  • Crane Lake...Another Great Place!

    Posted by Craig Holgate

    Had the opportunity to spend another weekend up on Crane Lake, and the weather was perfect.

    Crane Lake Collage

    Clockwise from upper left; Fishing for walleyes off a small island and we caught a few! Biking to Buyck on a sunny morning, mainly so I could say I have biked to Buyck and back. At the Vermilion Gorge with a bald eagle doing better fishing than us. And finally while you see a lot of sea planes on Crane Lake, not too many this size. Wow was it something to see this one take off again.

  • Bike Madeline Island

    Posted by Craig Holgate

    After we did the Superior Vista Bike Tour, we headed out the next day to do some biking on Madeline Island. Madeline is the largest and the southern most island of the Apostle Islands. This was a popular place to head for many of the riders who have traveled up for the weekend, especially those from the Twin Cities Bike Club. The ferry in nearby Bayfield takes you out to the island for 20 dollars (including your bike, 13 without a bike) We headed out of the town of La Pointe and made the short 6 mile ride to Big Bay State Park. The road of course takes you very near Lake Superior in a couple of areas for some great views while your pedaling. And the park is very much worth the trip as there are some great sights to be seen out there. The beach at the park is nearly never ending and I think everyone like to play on the rocks of Lake Superior. I get the feeling is a very popular State Park, so if you do want to camp there I would recommend early reservations.

    Big Bay State Park, Madeline Island WI