HJ-ED-DHJ

Jan. 15, 2007

Open water on HL will not put a damper on the derby

By Jennifer Gallus
Staff Writer

Open water on Howard Lake as recently as last week has prompted much local conversation about the subject.

“We’ve lived here on the lake for 40 years, and it has never been open at this time of the year,” said lake resident Gordy Gruenhagen.

Gruenhagen would know, he has his own freeze-up and ice-out records for each year, dating back to 1967.

Not only has Gruenhagen kept his own records for the last 40 years, he acquired lake records that date back to the 1940s.

“I bought a big bundle of the old security bank calendars from my neighbor, Al Wilding’s auction, for 25 cents. The annual ice records were recorded on those calendars. Some of the years aren’t there, but I have a lot of them,” Gruenhagen said.

“This year, I wrote that the lake froze up Dec. 5, but then it opened up again. It’s really a different situation,” he added.

Fishing derby

As for the Howard Lake Sportmen’s Club 61st annual fishing derby scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 10 from 2 to 4 p.m., “It’s a go for sure,” said Sportmen’s Club President Denny Decker.

“Thin ice is definitely a concern. We always say ‘fish at your own risk,’” Joe Drusch, owner of Joe’s Sport Shop, said.

“There’s still real fishable ice out there. I’m sure people with portables and four-wheelers will be out there. We haven’t cancelled one (derby) yet,” Decker said.

“If the weather is mild, we’ll have the event in the Lions Park parking lot. When there’s good ice and it’s safe, we plow roads (on the lake), and conduct the event on the lake,” Decker added.

During the fishing derby, there will be a fish fry at The Country Store. Interested persons need only buy a $2 fishing derby raffle ticket, and present it at the fish fry in order to fill up on a fish dinner.

Raffle tickets are available at Joe’s Sport Shop or The Country Store. A fish house on wheels, along with about 100 prizes, will be raffled off at the derby.

Four-wheeler through ice

On Christmas day, a four-wheeler and its two occupants entered open water on Howard Lake, but luckily no one was injured.

Several teenagers were out for a ride on two four-wheelers. The lead ATV spotted the open water, circled back to tell the other, and ended up in the lake upon taking the lead once again, according to Howard Lake Police Chief Dan Lang.

The two who entered the icy water were identified as Erickson Wuollet, 17, of Cokato and Travis Bergstrom, 19, of Howard Lake, according to Howard Lake Police Officer Matt Ebert.

“The four-wheeler was apparently floating above water because of its large tires,” Ebert said.

The next day, the ATV was successfully fished out of the lake with the help of a duck boat.


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