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Field Notes: Mother-daughter duo double-up on huge pike

Jessica Berg-Collman, left, and her mom Julie Collman caught these nearly identical 45-inch northern pike within 90 minutes of each other while fishing on Saganaga Lake off the Gunflint Trail on July 23. Jessica's fish weighed 28 pounds and Julie's was 25 pounds. Photo courtesy Jessica Berg-Collman

We're used to seeing the weekly reports from Mike Berg's Seagull Creek Fishing Camp of massive walleyes from Saganaga Lake — 29 inches, 30 inches, even 31 and 32 inches long are common — but fewer people know about the giant pike lurking in the big border lake.

Leave it to Berg's daughter, Jessica Berg-Collman, and her mom, Julie Collman, to set the record straight.

The mother-daughter duo was fishing on the Ontario side of Saganaga on the evening of July 23 when they caught back-to-back northern pike that each measured 45 inches long — about an hour apart and within a quarter mile of each other. Jessica lives on the Gunflint Trail and Julie lives in Grand Marais.

"We usually fish together a lot but this was the first time our schedules aligned to get out together this summer,'' Julie told the News Tribune. The duo was using heavy musky tackle and Jake musky plugs (by MuskyMania) with three treble hooks each, targeting big pike in a favorite bay.

It was just after 5 p.m. when the first monster hit Julie's plug.

"It battled for maybe 20 or 30 seconds and then came in pretty easy.... The water temperature that night was really warm, 81 degrees on the surface, and by the time we got the fish to the boat you could tell it was already stressed,'' Jessica said.

After unhooking the big plug and a few photos in the boat, the women tried to revive the fish.

"It would float for a few seconds, then turn over. We tried for about 45 minutes to revive it,'' she said. "So we brought it back into the boat and mom's going to have it mounted. It's her biggest (pike) ever. Before that her biggest was 39 inches."

With one huge pike in the boat the ladies resumed fishing. Just minutes later, Jessica tagged into a monster. Like the first one, the battle was over quickly, but not until after the pike tail-danced on the water.

"We tried again (to revive the second fish) but it was really weak. It couldn't swim,'' she said. "We're going to use the meat and have them both mounted."

Jessica's fish weighed-in at 28 pounds, three pounds heavier than mom's fish of the same length.

"She can't quite deal with the fact my fish was bigger,'' Jessica said with a laugh.

United Northern youth day is Saturday

The 11th annual United Northern Sportsmen's Club Youth Outdoor Field Day is set for Saturday at the club's grounds on Island Lake north of Duluth.

The free event runs from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and includes lunch and prizes as well as multiple chances to shoot shotguns, rimfire rifles, deer rifles and muzzleloaders as well as archery shoots, trapping seminars and a tree stand safety seminar.

The event, co-sponsored by the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association. is limited to 80 kids. For more information or to register call Paul Pedersen at (218) 590-7716.

Mountain bike festival at Spirit Mountain

The fifth annual Kraus-Anderson Mountain Bike Duluth Festival is slated for Spirit Mountain Aug. 10-12 with a wide array of mountain bike events for beginners, kids, adults and hardcore off-road racers.

The family-oriented event will be headquartered at the Grand Avenue chalet and combines competition and fun with serious fundraising for Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores (COGGS) and the Gary New Duluth Development Alliance.

There's an expo village, endurance races, kids races, a downhill ride and many other events as well as food and entertainment. Each race has an entry fee. For more information or to register for an event go to bikeduluthfestival.com.

DNR wants input on expanded ATV trails

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is holding an informational meeting Sept. 26 in Cook to talk about ATV use on state forest trails in St. Louis County.

Draft recommendations include new ATV and off-highway motorcycle trails, allowing ATV/OHM use on portions of existing snowmobile trails, designating portions of the Taconite State Trail to allow ATV/OHM use, and designating existing hunter-walking trails.

The meeting will be from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Cook Community Center, 799 Third Ave. SE. Attendees can review maps of existing and proposed trails, discuss the DNR proposals, submit comments and suggest changes to the recommendations. The DNR will also accept written comments through Oct. 11. A final staff recommendation is expected after that, with the DNR commissioner making the final decision.

Email comments to to foresttrailplanning.dnrJoe Unger, Parks and Trails Division, DNR, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4039. For more information call the DNR's Parks and Trails Tower area office at (218) 300-7842.

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