Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz

Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake Herald, Minn.

October 5, 1998

Hybrid muskie caught locally

A photo that came into my office shows Josh Schultz of Silver Lake holding a small hybrid muskie while on a lake seated in a fishing boat.

In the background of the photo is the Fiecke Farm located on the northeast corner of Winsted Lake. Josh caught the fish while trolling a Rapala for northern pike one day this summer.

The gentlemen who brought in the photo is an avid muskie angler and stated that he was going to spend some time in October casting for muskie on Winsted Lake. Where there's one, there has to be more.

At this time, I have absolutely no confirmed reports of how a muskie or muskies could have gotten into Winsted Lake.

A muskie may have come up through the creek, or been accidentally or intentionally released into the lake and then bred with a northern pike to come up with the markings that indicate a hybrid muskie.

Realistically, there could be a small population of hybrid muskie in the lake. For the average angler, northerns and muskie can be difficult to tell apart, and many of the kids who fish Winsted Lake may have caught a few and just never realized it.

Currently, I am waiting for a call from the DNR on its explanation, and if muskies have ever been stocked in Winsted Lake.

Pheasant forecast

Following a good bird dog through thick cover in hot pursuit of a wily rooster is something myself and many others have a passion for.

That passion will be met by races across CRP fields, zig zags in corn stubble, and methodical marches through cattail swamps in much of Minnesota and across the pheasant range this fall.

The pheasant hunting season in Minnesota opens at 9 a.m Saturday, Oct. 10, and hunters in our state will be greeted by an early crop harvest and definitely more birds in the fields than last year.

Numbers of birds are way up in the southern counties near the Iowa border, have increased locally, and are on a slow rebound in western Minnesota.

Traditionally, I have always spent the opening weekend of the Minnesota season hunting in Big Stone County near the South Dakota border. There are miles of public hunting land in the area and until the winters of '96 and '97, bird numbers were good - typically the best in the state.

This season, however, I'll be heading south, hunting from Fairmont to Worthington. Hunting was good in that area last season and DNR survey numbers this year indicate a fair number of birds, far more than in west-central and far western Minnesota.

Survey numbers also indicate good bird numbers in areas near Le Sueur and much of southeastern Minnesota.

Locally, I can honestly say I have seen more birds this summer than I have in quite a few years. With bird numbers up, area crops coming off early, and a few good private locations to work through, local hunters should bag a few birds.

Across the pheasant range in Minnesota, the early crop harvest will be a boom for some hunters and a bust for others. Opening day and early season hunters will benefit from the early harvest.

But, those of us who enjoy and prefer late season hunting away from the crowds will have a much harder time finding birds. Either way, a bonanza on opening day or good late season hunting, those of us who have a passion for following a dog and rousting roosters will be happy.

To feed your pheasant frenzy, here are a few hunting tips and pheasant facts.

  • Remember, when you're in the field, you are hunting with dog; the dog isn't hunting with you.
  • Don't race through cover. Work slow and hit all the corners and edges.
  • The hour before sunset, when birds move from feeding areas back to heavy roosting cover is the best time of the day to hunt. Many hunters say pheasants aren't predictable. In this case, they are.
  • Take care of your dog. Keep it well-rested, fed, and watered. If it's hot outside, don't overwork a dog.
  • Don't kill yourself by busting through thick cover all day. You and your dog will benefit by taking several breaks during a day of hunting.
  • Look for areas of heavy cover within light cover. A small thick cattail slough in the center of a CRP field will often hold birds.
  • Lastly, trust your dog, and if you run into a lot competition from other hunters, be patient and don't shy away from walking a field that may have just been hunted. The second or third pass through a field is often more successful than the first one.

Pheasant facts

  • Pheasants have a short life span. Only 30-35 percent of adult birds survive from one year to the next, regardless if they are hunted or not.
  • On flat ground, a racing ringneck can reach speeds of eight to 10 miles per hour. Pheasants can fly at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour.
  • The first pheasant came to Minnesota in 1905, when 70 pairs were released.
  • Minnesotans harvested a record 1,790,000 pheasants in 1941. This year the DNR expects Minnesota hunters to harvest about 450,000 pheasants (roosters only).

Outdoor notes

  • This November, vote yes on Amendment 2, to preserve our hunting, fishing, and outdoor heritage.
  • Look for a report on the waterfowl opener in next week's column.
  • Be cautious and courteous, not competitive, while hunting this fall.
  • Beautiful fall colors are starting to appear; enjoy them while they last.
  • Although fishing is not at the forefront and many anglers tend to forget about it as fall arrives, the local fishing has been good. Anglers are still reporting excellent catches of panfish on Big and Little Waverly Lakes. The fall walleye bite is off and rolling on lakes like Waconia and Washington.
  • The best pheasant and duck hunting of the year often comes after opening day, when hunting pressure is much lighter.
  • The days are still getting shorter. The sun will set today at 6:47 p.m. On November 5, the sun will set at 4:56 p.m.

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