By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, MN Those looking to help improve the quality of area lakes, while having some fun trying to catch a big fish, need look no further than the third annual Dutch Lake ice fishing contest.
The Dutch and Mallard Pass Lake Association will be hosting the event, which takes place Saturday, Jan. 28 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Registration is $10 per entrant and will take place at the Dutch Lake boat landing on 72nd Street south of Howard Lake.
There is a $100 prize for the biggest fish caught, and the first 15 entrants are also entered into a cash drawing.
“The past two years, the winner of ‘biggest fish’ won with an 11-pound, 11-ounce northern,” said lake association member Christie Wood.
“(Maybe it was the) same fish?” Wood jokingly speculated. “The guys did put it back in the water.”
Proceeds from the contest are used to plan the next year’s contest, as well as making improvements to both Mallard Pass and Dutch lakes.
“All the money is put back into the betterment of the lake,” said association president Pat Wilson.
Since its inception five years ago, the association has worked on the following goals:
• creating a clean shoreline and lake;
• recruiting more members and involvement in the association from people in the community;
• removing of rough fish from the lake;
• five feet of clarity in the lake with a Sechi disk;
• increasing the lake’s walleye population;
• installing an aeration system; and
• finding grants that might be available for lake improvements.
During its annual spring cleanup, the association has found all sorts of things people dump into the lake, such as tires, matresses, TVs, and other appliances, Wilson said.
This led the association to place a sign at the public access to Dutch Lake, reading, “Please help keep our lakes clean.” The sign includes a map of Mallard Pass and Dutch lakes.
A solar light was also placed at the landing to discourage people from dumping trash at night, Wilson said.
Last spring, the association removed a large amount of buckthorn from the landing and the shoreline.
In efforts to be environmentally-friendly, the association applied barley straw to the lake to lower the algae content, Wilson said.
The barley straw also reduces the amount of silt on the lake bottom, which in turn helps reduce the amount of phosphorus in the water, improving its overall quality, he added.
In 2007, working with a local fisherman, the association had 13,000 pounds of carp removed from the lake, Wilson said.
In cooperation with the Wright Soil and Water Conservation District, the association conducted water testing.
“As a result of the data collected, Dutch Lake was able to be placed on the impaired waters list, opening the door to state and federal funding for further betterment of the lake,” Wilson said.